Even More Abundant Riches (The 2nd Part)
Header Image: Great Egret
To say we had a nice afternoon would be a world-class understatement. It is difficult to believe we were there less than three hours. Not only did the birds cooperate, human visitors were extremely kind as well. The efforts to improve Orlando Wetlands Park have been quite successful. A new visitor and education center is under construction and will add even more to the total experience one may enjoy at an already satisfying wildlife destination.
Birds continued to carry nesting material to waiting mates, alligators splashed around us, flocks of ducks careened in blue skies, non-nesting birds flew in and out of the dense foliage, cries of Limpkins echoed across the wetlands, the sun descended – we reluctantly trudged back to civilization.
We shall return.
The Great Blue Heron can look ungainly on land or perched in a tree, but in flight – it is magnificent!
Adding even more color to an already colorful day, a Purple Gallinule is a blend of an incredible amount of subtle and not-so-subtle hues. Those large feet help it maneuver across lily pads with ease.
Tricolored Herons develop a patch of blue at the base of the bill and a white plume atop their head during breeding season.
A Snowy Egret cruised by dragging its golden slippers behind.
They’re loud, they’re bullies, they hang about in gangs, they steal food, they aren’t pink or yellow or red. The Boat-tailed Grackle, however, is quite a handsome bird when we take time to look at it in the right light.
This image is pretty much the landscape in which Gini and I have lived as native Floridians. Clean lakes, lush lily pads, reeds and cypress trees draped with Spanish Moss. Oh, and a few birds, too.
Great Egret series.
During breeding season, a green patch develops on the egret’s face and long delicate plumes grow from its back. It was these plumes which hunters gathered primarily for ladies’ hats in the 19th century and the Great Egret nearly became extinct as a result. Conservation groups such as the Audubon Society and federal laws were created to protect the species. Today it thrives in habitat such as these wetlands.
Somewhat similar to the Grackles, the European Starling may not have a sterling reputation, but they sure can be very attractive.
Spoonbill Island. Looks like they hired a contingent of Black Vultures for security. With binoculars, we counted over 20 Roseate Spoonbills within this image. Some are hidden in the shadows.
All black except for silvery-white streaks on its wings and back, a male Anhinga has a pretty good grip on a palm tree stump with those webbed feet.
Happiness is sharing a good snag with friends. And singing about it. Roseate Spoonbills and a Wood Stork late in the day.
Similar to its Tricolored Heron cousin, the Little Blue Heron develops a patch of blue at the base of its bill during breeding season. As the season progresses, its eyes will turn almost all black.
The plumage of the male and female Blue-winged Teal is different but both are equally attractive. In the second image, a flock shows their namesake wing patch which matches the blue sky.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, hundreds of ducks across the wetlands moved from feeding areas to nightly roosting spots. It was an incredible scene.
Orlando Wetlands Park. Truly a unique venue – even for Florida.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by everything this location has to offer for birders, photographers and anyone who enjoys nature. We have chosen to follow the ancient advice on how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. So we will return for a series of trips and report on other areas of the park as the seasons progress.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
Enjoyed the salad– it didn’t need any dressing because your photos tell it all. We had occasional Marsh Wrens but saw only one Sedge Wren during my 18 years in south Florida. Many of both in Illinois to make up for the deficit.
Thank you, Ken.
This has been a good year for spotting both Sedge and Marsh Wrens. I usually have trouble getting any photos of those two at all.
They’ll be headed your way pretty soon.
Hello Wally and Gini. I apologise that both my blog and I have not been very active on the birding scene. Rest assured that I am keen to be out asap and as ever, I am so envious of your climate. “Plenty of warmth” would suit us fine right now, I think that a test of my DNA might prove some Mediterranean input somewhere down the line.
This truly has been the worst winter weather I have ever experienced with perpetual wind/rain or both, one day a week if we are lucky. For example just one day last week Will and I agreed to meet up the following morning but a glance out of our respective windows at both ends 6am and we called it off. Our spring is now two weeks late with little in the way of greenery and budding growth although today I hear of a few Chiffchaffs, Wheatears and a single male Ring Ouzel. Another week will see Willow Warblers if they manage to slip through the cold weather in Spain and North Africa.
That’s a great picture of the pecker stashing his nuts! Talking of which, I’m not sure which of our respective politicians are the most batty and stupid. Roll on 2024 and our both elections.
Stay safe and warm you both. And don’t get arrested for going off message. Big Brother is watching and listening.
As a longtime lazy logger of life, I totally understand not blogging on some sort of “schedule”. Those who do so daily are objects of my utmost admiration.
Having said that, we worry when you are absent for weeks on end and we lose sleep not knowing if you have been waylaid by some tyrant twitcher. Thank you for letting us know you are okay, despite catastrophic climate change and pusillaminous politicians.
I won’t bore you with the details of our local weather. The birds seem to like it.
We will strive to remain safe and warm and have developed rigorous techniques for achieving both. Simultaneously.
Gini hopes you are right about the big brother thing as hers has not called in over a month.
In the meantime, remember the words written by your countryman, Eric Arthur Blair: “Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”
It’s a fine collection, Wally. One can only imagine the way those magnificent egrets would have been pursued for their feathers during the period when the millinery trade almost signalled their demise. What a wonderful sight they present. Breeding is underway here too. Yesterday I saw American Crows carrying nesting material, Mallards copulating and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker working hard at a nesting hole. And this morning I noticed the first Snowdrops in the backyard. Great time of the year. All the best – David
Thank you, David.
Spring can be a pretty special time in nature! We’re having fun.
Beautiful location! Seeing the egret eggs is always fun. I’ve looked in likely locations after the breeding season for shells, but no luck. I’ve been wondering if some critter snacks on them? I googled the Orlando Wetlands Park, and found photos of the boardwalk – very nice! Glad you are planning more visits to this park, we look forward to your walks 🙂
The word is definitely our and the boardwalk is becoming clogged with photographers and others wanting a glimpse of baby birds. We may need to wait until the birds are teenagers. By then the Florida heat/humidity should thin the crowd!
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It really does look like the best place for a variety of birds. Our preserve has dried up so much that we’re not seeing as many water birds. Love the bluish egg and the feathers of the white Egret! We saw some breeding plumage on a little Blue Heron this week. So much to see…such great weather! Enjoy your day!
Hope you’re able to visit there one day. You have so many terrific spots nearby I see why it would be hard to travel very far!
The dry season actually helps concentrate sources of food into smaller wet places so breeding wading birds can more easily feed their new family. Nature is amazing!
I’m concious of the fact that, having requested that you don’t keep us waiting too long for this Part Two of your account, I am rather late coming to it – for which I apologise, Wally. We have been a bit busy with medical visits (all good) and with visitors and a birthday celebration.
This post fully confirms the magnificence of this place, and your photography is setting the standards to which I now aspire. I particularly like the flight shots, and your header is truly wonderful, with perfect composition.
Progress continues here, and plans are being made.
With my very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard
No worries, Richard. Although it is difficult to believe anyone would have things to do in life which would preclude them immediately gawking at our blog the moment it is published. But, I guess it happens.
Yes, we’ll be returning there hopefully pretty soon. Reports are coming in daily about all the newly hatched chicks.
“Plans being made” sounds promising!
The weekend is going great and we hope the same may be said for you and Lindsay!
So impressive to see the herons in flight. Beautiful photography!
Thank you very much, Peter. It’s a fun place to be with a camera. Although, I am suffering from whiplash. 🙂
Birds, birds, and more birds! And a great landscape to watch them all in. It’s nice to see Florida as a retirement destination for more than golf. I’ll be remaining in New England but FLA seems attractive.
Grackles and Starlings are pushy but the subtle iridescence is appealing. When we fed birds (we stopped because bears became a problem visiting the yard) the two would drain our pole feeders in minutes. We were almost spending more to feed the birds than the people. Although not the most popular of birds, the European Starlings posed wonderfully for a really nice shot. The Great Egret series is GREAT! And I love Spoonbill Island. All were enjoyable to view and fine examples of bird photography.
Thanks for a delightful virtual visit to Orlando Wetlands Park, Wally.
Thank you very much, Steve.
Our actual visit was delightful, also!
The bird feeders in the yard are occasionally visited by our little masked bears, the raccoons. I know what you mean about cost of feeding our feathered friends. If things don’t improve soon, we may have to quit feeding them or at least have them share the seeds with us.
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Colorful avian array.
Yes it was!
Thank you Brad.
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How interesting that a new visitor center is being constructed there, too. Despite my initial shock at seeing so much bare earth at Attwater, it’s going to be interesting to see what develops. Even at the Brazoria refuge, the small visitor center provides some fine educational opportunities.
Are the Grackles, Starlings, and Anhinga on the same perch? At first I thought yes, then I decided no. Of course, one palm tree stump probably looks much like another. Are the Starlings in the process of molting? Earlier this year, all of the Starlings at my feeder were so distinctly white spotted they looked like a different species. Now, they’re all a sleek black. It’s certainly been interesting to watch.
I really enjoyed the photo of the two Spoonbills and the Wood Stork on the snag. Your inclusion of the blue egg reminded me of the day I found a similar egg laying in the middle of a dock at a marina. Apparently some young mothers don’t always get it right. I still have photos of three mallard eggs laying on a ‘Welcome Aboard’ mat on the stern deck of a power boat.
Initially, I have mixed feelings when I see construction at a favorite wildlife venue. Usually, those feelings become positive as the work turns out to be for good reasons. If a visitor/education center results in influencing someone, especially a young someone, to better understand and appreciate the natural world, then it will have been worth it.
There are plenty of palm stumps to choose from out there! The ones nearest the boardwalk may have been designated for “bird models” to use for the benefit of us tourists. And we appreciate their thoughtfulness!
Immature and non-breeding plumage for European Starlings have the white spotted look which evolves into the sleeker look after the first year and in breeding season.
I like your egg-citing discovery stories! Just goes to show why we should be kind to our web-footed friends.
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That’s right. A duck may be somebody’s mother!
Your earworm for the day.
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You seem to have a fine natural aviary there. As you put it: “Oh, and a few birds, too.”
In Austin, grackles are a common sight at supermarket parking lots, where they scrounge for dropped food.
The birds do seem to like the area. Fast food drive-throughs wouldn’t be the same without scavenging grackles.