An Abundance of Riches

Header Image: Roseate Spoonbill

We are so very fortunate in many aspects of our life here in central Florida. Beautiful beaches are within an hour of our house. Nearby lakes teem with fish begging to challenge the sportsman. Forests, swamps and fields offer incredible opportunities for birding. Of course, the crowning glory of interplanetary entertainment is a mere 30 minute drive from our front door. (Well, 90 minutes in “normal” traffic.) For a couple hundred dollars, Walt Disney World says we can visit and they will make our “fantasy a reality”.

Or –

Less than 30 miles east of the Magnificent Magic Kingdom of the Mouse is a park which is filled with many objects of our flights of fancy. No charge for admission.

Orlando Wetlands Park was formed from a project to reclaim waste water from the city of Orlando. Consisting of 1650 acres, the wetlands area became a magnet for all manner of birds and wildlife (e.g., deer, raccoons, otter, bobcat). Turns out a few humans who happen to like all manner of birds and wildlife are attracted to the area, too.

It had been a long time since our last visit and we received notice from a couple of extraordinary photographers which motivated us to make the trip last week. Many thanks to Jess ( and Ed ( !! Visit them if you enjoy quality photography.

Information they provided got our attention. In December, the park completed construction of a 2200 foot boardwalk into the wetlands. Part of the boardwalk passes within close proximity to a wading bird rookery area. It is breeding season for many of those birds.

Bad news.” Gini is not accustomed to hearing this and it’s usually followed by “thunderstorms predicted” or “nuclear holocaust scheduled for today”. I had to inform her we were not going to set the clock for 0-dark-thirty and could have a leisurely lunch before heading to the park. Naturally, this did not compute without further explanation. Thanks to a hint from Jess, we knew the afternoon sun would be behind us and would provide better light for viewing the rookery. Good move.

Less talk, more images.

(I tried. Honestly, I really tried. There are just so many things to share this will be yet another two part post. Not sorry. You’ll just have to scroll faster.)

A Glossy Ibis displays that delightful “mother-of-pearl” plumage.

Wood Stork series.

All occupied Wood Stork nests.
Gathering nesting material.

Black Vulture. Her mother would be proud of her beautiful daughter. The rest of us – admire the perches.

Roseate Spoonbill series. (Warning: Pink Overload.)

Carrying nesting material.
Asleep on the nest.

Where there is water, there will be Red-winged Blackbirds. There is a LOT of water out here!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck series.

Coming and going. Where is air traffic control?
With a Blue-winged Teal tag-along.

We were a little early in the nesting cycle and didn’t locate any baby birds within view. There will be plenty of them in the coming weeks based on the number of birds we encountered. A return trip may be required.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

(Stay tuned for Part Two.)

Additional Information

35 Comments on “An Abundance of Riches

  1. This looks like a stellar location for birds! The satellite map shows lots of trails beside the water, but doesn’t yet show the boardwalk. I’m so glad that “wetlands engineering” is becoming more popular. Wonderful photos, and your story just bubbles with enthusiasm. Looking forward to more!


  2. Oh, you keep doing this to me, 15 months since moving out of Florida and now enduring the cold, wet and windy weather. I’m lucky to pick up 5 or 6 bird species on our property, with the same bunch day after day. Hoping all will improve when migration kicks in.


    • But, Ken, I can’t find a Fox! 🙂

      Based on what we’re seeing this week, a whole bunch of birds should be headed in your direction.


  3. There aren’t enough superlatives for me to express how I feel about the text, the photography, the birds, the location, and the sunshine featured in this blog post, Wally! From the moment I saw your header image, to the last shot of the flock of Black-bellied Whistling Duck I was enthralled.

    Please don’t leave it too long before you treat us to Part Two.

    My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – – Richard


    • Once again, Richard, you have come close to revealing that you are my public relations agent. We really appreciate how kind you are with your comments!

      That spot is good all year as the many trails can put you in terrific spots for observing a really diverse number of birds.

      Part Two is in the oven … almost done.

      We hope you and Lindsay are having a great week.


  4. The first thing I did was get the maps out to see how I can get there! What a beautiful place. Of course your new banner and all of the Roseate Spoonbill photos are my favs. Love the Glossy Ibis too…and every single bird that you saw! What a beautiful time of year to be out in nature!


    • The new boardwalk is getting a lot of attention because of its proximity to all those nesting birds, but the other trails around the wetlands are really terrific as well. Check out the park’s website if you might be interested in a tram tour. Not a bad way to get to know the place.

      Yes, it truly is a beautiful time of year!


  5. An incredible series of images, Wally. They are all superb and it would be hard to pick a favourite, but that very first picture of the Glossy Ibis would go a long way towards doing it for me. I bet the stuff you discard would be top quality for most of us!


    • Thank you very much, David.

      I’m also partial to the Glossy Ibis. I keep trying to get one in the same frame as a White-faced Ibis but no joy so far.

      All I can say about the stuff I discard is I am very thankful to no longer have to shoot film!


  6. You had a great visit! Love all the pink…and the whistlers…and Rich and I are still cackling about your vulture comment. “The rest of us admire the perches” – too funny!

    I can’t wait for part 2!!


    • It really was a terrific afternoon!

      Fair warning. If I get complaints about the number of images being posted I’m referring them all to you, ’cause it’s YOUR fault!

      With all those ole buzzards hanging around, I’m wondering if the birds are paying them to stand guard?

      (Imagine that, “birders” were “cackling” …..)


  7. I’ve never seen a Spoonbill do anything but stand around or strain the water for dinner, so that photo of one on a nest completely entranced me, and their ability to balance on top of such precarious perches is admirable, to say the least. As far as behavior goes, the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks may be my favorite. The younger birds especially can act just like groups of teenagers: showing off, competing, being stupid. They’re such great fun to watch!

    I’m astonished over and again by the number of wild places you have available, and by how close at hand they are. We have our own riches, of course; as the days grow longer now, it will be easier to get more ‘looking’ time to balance the ‘driving time’!


    • The Spoonbills were definitely entertaining. I was fascinated watching them gather sticks with those specialized bills and then how precise they were in arranging them in the nest.

      Just before sunset, hundreds of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks began swooping in to shallow-water areas right next to the trail where they would spend the night. The whistling was literally loud enough Gini and had to shout to be heard with only a couple of feet between us. Amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dina.

      In the woods during migration I often get “Warbler Neck”. Out there I just got plain old whiplash from trying to keep up with all the birds flying back and forth!


  8. Looks like a wonderful location. My favourite spot in my area, Wakodahatchee, is a project of the Palm Beach County water utility and also became a magnet for birds and then a rookery. I will have to go to this place in Orlando when I can…wonderful opportunities and as you say Great Perches.


    • I think Orlando Wetlands Park and Wakodahatchee are very similar. Of course, a wading bird rookery anywhere can be pretty exciting!


      • Orlando Wetlands sounds bigger and more spread out. Wakodahatchee has a sister site called Green Cay which is bigger but at Wako the birds are closer to the boardwalk.


  9. Wow! Fantastic selection. How many +1s did you find? Helping the count for your Big Year?


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