Like Kids In A Candy Store
“Ooohhh, look at that one! Can you believe the colors? Wow!!”
Okay. I know this may come as a shock to some, but we are not actually “kids”. I mean, chronologically. Gini is a complete adult person but accuses me – hints – that I may not have fully matured emotionally. Also, we were not really in a candy store. But, oh my, what a delicious selection Mother Nature had for us on this gorgeous Florida morning!
Our local patch, Lake Parker Park, is less than ten minutes from the house. The lake frontage, a canal, large stands of hardwood trees, small wetland area, a pond – all contribute to providing an oasis for birds in an urban setting. The park provides walking paths, boat launch ramps, picnic areas, playground, tennis courts and soccer fields. Early morning on a weekday is perfect for observing nature.
The sun was just rising above the trees on the lake’s eastern shoreline. Reeds along the lake were alive with blackbirds, grackles, gallinules, herons and egrets. Cypress trees contained Anhinga nests, some with parents brooding eggs and others with hungry young birds screaming for breakfast. A Snail Kite dipped low in search of apple snails. An alligator reluctantly slid from his sunning spot, swam a short distance and turned to glare.
As the morning matured, bird activity intensified. Insects roused from their slumber as the dew dried from their bodies and they emerged from nighttime roosts to begin a day of feeding, mating and surviving their many predators. Human numbers increased as well. Walkers, joggers, bikers. All friendly. Happy to be out and enjoying the freedom which comes with sun, air, water and green surroundings.
So much to see! Birds feeding chicks, different hunting techniques, preening, singing, courting, avoiding danger, insect wings glittering in the sunlight.
What a wonderful way to spend any morning!
Juvenile Little Blue Herons are completely white, slowly acquiring gray plumage during their first year and usually by their second year attaining the familiar slate blue adult coloration. This mottled immature bird is likely less than a year old.
Greeting the sunrise from her perch in a cypress tree on the bank of the lake, a beautiful Tricolored Heron has her eye on the shallow waters which will soon provide her morning meal.
An adult Green Heron glances at her squabbling offspring, likely proud of the third sibling behaving himself in the background. Moments later the raucous duo share a branch calmly contemplating where a frog might be hiding.
White face, greenish eyes and yellow racing stripes. The male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is ready to dash after passing prey.
Purple Gallinules within the park have, unfortunately, been trained by well-meaning visitors and don’t hesitate to approach humans where they beg for food. This one, thankfully, prefers a little grass seed.
Hanging Spanish moss is a great place for bugs to hide. It’s also a great place for a hungry Red-bellied Woodpecker to locate brunch.
Although her wing spots are not as prominent as a male’s, the female Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida) is no less attractive.
During winter migration, our population of Pied-billed Grebes swells and seeing a dozen at the park is not unusual. Given the late date, this individual is likely a resident and we hope to see young grebes soon!
The large Great Egret is a patient and stealthy hunter. Like watching the hands on a clock, you know he’s moving but can’t actually see it.
An entirely powder-blue body, green face and blue-green eyes describe the male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). One of our most common dragonflies, this species doesn’t hesitate to attack prey larger than itself.
Handsome. A Black-bellied Whistling-Duck enjoying a morning walk along the canal.
Watching a Tricolored Heron hunt is always a treat! They run through the shallow water trying to herd small fish to an ambush point. Spreading their wings high provides shade which fish will be drawn toward. Not only entertaining, pretty nice to look at, too.
Mallards are often maligned in the birding world, but it’s difficult to deny they are beautiful animals.
The Glossy Ibis is busy feeding. The Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are alert for any potential danger. All clear to the left. All clear to the right. (Alligator: “Decisions, decisions.”)
We know how spoiled we are when it comes to finding a place to observe birds and wildlife. Whether we travel a few hours or a few minutes, we are also very thankful that we are so blessed. Hopefully, you, too, have favorite spots nearby from which you can enjoy our planet’s diverse nature.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
Hello, Hubby and I have enjoyed many walks at Lake Parker Park during our 5 month stay in Lakeland.
The birds seen there are wonderful, always something too see. Some of my favorites are the Little Blue, The Green Herons and the Whistling Ducks. Wonderful photos and post. Enjoy your day!
Thank you, Eileen! It’s nice to have a good birding spot so close to our house.
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All those birds! In just one day! Beautiful. I miss Florida. And the Dragonflies… and all your knowledge about them. Thank you for sharing that here as well as on my blog. I made the correction, added the link you provided and credited your much appreciated information. I’m still surprised that “my” common whitetail was hanging out on such dry land….there’s no natural water on the kids property. …. As always, your narrative was a pure joy to read !
Sallie (FullTime-Life) (tried posting under both my IDS… which makes me sound like somebody in a Witness Protection program)….just hope one of them goes through. And if both do, hope you can delete at least one. Thank you again for all.
Thank you so much, Sallie!
I was jealous of your Common Whitetail since they don’t live in Florida.
You can post here under as many aliases as you like. I promise not to divulge your witness protection locations of either along a canal in southwest Florida or in Oregon. They’ll never find you!
I’m very glad that “kid” Wally brought his camera and words to the nature candy store. Wonderful morning and wonderful post!
Thank you, Ed. It was good to be able stomp around a familiar patch. Nothing exotic, but Nature offers SO much beauty!
I really enjoyed that intro Wally. But don’t tell everyone that being in the great outdoors is better than a sweet shop or they will all want some of that we have for free.
I’m wondering if that is unique, young Little Blue Herons being completely white for so long? Probably not, but none here like that I’m sure. Herons are great value for anyone who carries a camera.
You spoil us with all those herons, but then if we had your vast expanse of waterways maybe we would have similar diversity. I rather like those whistling ducks. They look to be quite characterful as compared to boring old Mallards etc.
Our weather has changed to more like normal, normal. So has our existence but I’m thinking I might need to burn all my books, notebooks , bird books and delete all the files from my PC for the next wave of nonsense. Stay calm my friend. It will all pass.
Any chance of moving the comment link to the bottom?
Those scientist-types have in the past reported young Little Blue Herons are better fed when they blend in with groups of feeding Snowy Egrets, which they resemble at that stage. They can begin to get their “mottled” appearance within 3-4 months, then I reckon they have to find their own buffet.
Will try to figure out moving the comment link, but will likely have to change format.
Gini and I are usually calm and we definitely carry on – a lot.
You said it perfectly, I get excited with birds just like a kid in the candy store! Beautiful captures, Wally. It’s a special time with babies everywhere!
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Thank you, Donna. A great time to be out in nature.
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Yep, me too – in my case, kid at heart, with a body that takes issue with that condition!
A veritable smorgasbord of wildlife shown there, Wally, and all beautifully depicted too. I love your current banner header, and would love to know the outcome of that face-off.
My very best wishes to you and Gini – take good care – – – Richard
Good Evening Sir Richard and Lady Lindsay!
I can, sadly, relate all too well to a body which childhood abandoned long, long ago. 😦
Fortunately, my permanent immature inner self ignores everything except constant gratification!
The Glossy Ibis and the Alligator. I leaned against a tree and watched that drama unfold for about 15 minutes. Soon after taking this photo, the Ibis turned around and resumed feeding in the opposite direction.
All the best to you both!
I have no intention of ever growing up – and I am unanimous in that! Being a kid is just too much fun! As always, Wally, your pictures leave us all gobsmacked with their clarity and the range of wildlife you portray. This is a marvellous urban oasis, and to get there early in the morning is the thing to do. It is a time-honoured and oft-repeated cliché that first light is the best time of day, but repetition only reinforces the truth. Wonderful outing. Superb pictures. Great narrative. I am glad that you decided to share with us.
Well, this adds more evidence to my theory that birding is a refuge for the perpetual children of the world.
David, you are very generous and kind in your remarks and this old man appreciates it!
It is one thing to WANT to share our natural beauty, but quite another to do it well. My ego says “Merci”!
Great set of pictures. I think growing up is over rated!
Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne
Thanks, Stewart. Definitely over rated and I just refuse to do it!
What a totally magical morning.
My inner child is frequently the healthiest and happiest part of me, and she often gets free reign.
Thank you (so much) for sharing this colour, this beauty, this wonder…
It’s a pleasure to share our child-like wonder of the natural world any time, EC.
If we all had that attitude, imagine our world ….
Nothing wrong in acting like kids when you have a day as good as that, your images are a treat!
Happy 22nd to Gini on her next birthday
I’m not sure what a “BFF” is, but Gini just put your name on a list with that heading.
All the best, Brian.
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Always enjoy your posts! Make my day-this one was especially good! I share th
Thank you very much, Ralph!