Monday, May 28, 2012

Black-crowned Night Herons

We headed back to the Click Ponds once again yesterday. If you like herons and egrets, you would not be disappointed at the ponds right now. In addition to the large numbers of Great and Snowy Egrets, there are also numerous Little Blue Herons, juveniles and adults, Least Bitterns, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, and Black-crowned Night Herons. Today I saw three adult and two juvenile BCNHs.

Black-crowned Night Herons are stocky, medium sized herons typically found in wetland habitats. They most often forage for fish, frogs, lizard, and snakes.

Black-crowned Night Herons typically forage at night or early morning, however these BCNHs were out late morning.

This juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron made several passes above us as it searched for a place to land.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Fabulous Fulvous Surprise

After a trip around the Click Ponds this morning, I decided to make one quick loop through the wetlands. We came across our regular egrets, herons, Grackles, Coots, etc. We saw about a dozen Black-bellied Whistling Ducks occupying the tops of dead Palm trees. As I drove along, a small group of Coots huddled together caught my eye as I noticed one cinnamon colored duck standing out among the crowd.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

I stopped to get a better look and was surprised to see this lone Fulvous Whistling-Duck, a new life bird for me!

Immature Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Herons are actually pure white their first year, then change to their dark blue, adult plumage. I saw two Little Blues in the process of this transformation at the Click Ponds.

Green Heron 

I also saw 5 Green Herons in various sections of the ponds. This guy was posing nicely; if only the reeds could have cooperated! 

Great Blue Heron

 This Great Blue walked about 5 feet in front of me as I sat in the grass watching the Green Heron.

Green Heron

There is a pumping station at the ponds and the Green Heron tend to congregate beneath the structure. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Click Ponds 5/19/12

We went to the Click ponds Saturday morning for a short birding adventure. While the majority of birds we saw were wading foragers, there were a hand full Least Terns dipping and diving from up above.

Least Tern

The ponds were heavily populated with Great Egrets as well as Snowy Egrets. There were probably close to a hundred of these egrets combined.

Great Egret

Frogs were definitely the hot item on the menu. The egrets were pulling up large frogs left and right. The Great Egrets were swallowing them as fast as they were catching them, while the Snowy Egrets took a little more time to enjoy their delicacy.

This Snowy Egret couldn't catch a break and was the subject of multiple harassments. Initially, a Great Egret tried to snatch its frog, then a Crow chased him around for several minutes.

Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret finally settled back down and the third time was a charm!

Least Bittern

The most exciting encounter of the day was this Least Bittern! While I occasionally stumble upon American Bitterns here, this was my first sighting of the Least. There were a few Black-crowned Night Herons around as well but I didn't manage to snag a photo of one.

juvenile Northern Mockingbird

This young Mocker was quite intrigued by a nearby dragonfly.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kickin' Back

I saw the crane family today in their usual area. I think the colts are close to 4 weeks old now. This guy was taking a rest under a palm while the others were busy foraging.

I stopped by the nearby Scrub-Jay sanctuary this morning as we had a few minutes to spare before an appointment. This guy was showing us his early morning stretching routine.

(I'll blame this new piece of furniture on my son)

Not much to say about this one...except maybe, have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Angry Anhinga

A few weeks ago,  I observed some interesting Anhinga behavior. A male Anhinga arrived at a nest that was occupied by 2 chicks and a female Anhinga and fiercely began attacking the female until she was out of the nest.

The photos don't quite capture how aggressive the male was actually being as he pecked at her. The juvenile Great Blue Herons in next tree over took notice.

The hungry chicks eagerly awaited a meal. In another area of the wetlands, I saw this second Anhinga family.

There were 5 chicks in this area. Anhinga chicks feed by shoving their heads into their parents' beaks to retrieve food.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Viera Wetlands 5/11/12

We look a long, early morning walk at the Viera Wetlands Friday morning. The wetlands were open only to foot traffic, which happens periodically after heavy rain. The heat and humidity had let up and the weather was perfect. We didn't see any new species, but the regulars were out in full force. We made our way over to the Great Blue Heron nesting area first. All six of the original juveniles were  still hanging out in their nests. They are now a little over three months old. The GBH chick that hatched about a month and half ago in a nest across the way was putting on quite a show.

I had a few thoughts while I was watching this guy....what kid doesn't enjoy jumping on the bed (or nest in this case) when mom is not looking, or maybe he was just afraid of a bug he seen crawling in his nest.

This was my favorite move. I was now thinking maybe he had some sort of music playing up there. This reminded me of John Travolta's "Saturday Night Fever" pose.

Well, I never really concluded what this guy was up to, but I did start to worry that he might fall out of the nest if he kept this up as there were some really large gusts of wind blowing through. I felt better later when I saw him settled down safely in his nest.

This tiny turtle was resting right in the road as we approached.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Viera Wetlands

The Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are returning in moderate quantities. We saw and heard a few flocks whistling around.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Viera Wetlands

After a long trek around the wetlands, we made our way back to the GBH nesting area, where we were excited to see that 2 of the young Great Blues had made there way down to the water to forage.

Immature Great Blue Heron
Viera Wetlands

While watching this guy, I heard a little rustling in the reeds, only to discover this sweet little one.

Limpkin chick
Viera Wetlands

 Mom and sibling were close by feeding on some tasty Apple Snails. This was a great way to end our visit!

Viera Wetlands

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, especially the one I admire the most, my mom!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Color Purple

Luckily, the light is shining at the end of this busy week's tunnel, and summer break is now only 2 weeks away! I've haven't made it to any of my favorite patches in nearly a week, but thankfully a few kind birds have shown up in some of the places I have made to! Here are a few of the locals (or possibly visitors) that I've encountered....

Sandhill Crane Colt

I've been keeping an eye out for the new Sandhill Crane family since spotting them two weeks ago. Saturday I came across them as I passed through a nearby neighborhood. The chicks, of course, have grown tremendously in just 2 weeks. This one seemed to be aware of the appropriate place to walk as it meandered down the sidewalk.

Sandhill Crane cooling off

I was rather amused to see one of the adults take a detour through a yard to cool off in someone's sprinkler. The rest of the family followed suit. It was quite warm last weekend.


I've noticed the Osprey, the one who built the nest in my neighbor's tree, appears to have attracted a mate; way to go! Sunday night, though, some sort of melee broke out when a third Osprey decided to try and get in on the mix. The sun had already set and the residual light didn't work in favor of capturing any decent photos.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker was pulling some unidentifiable matter from the palm tree in my yard.

Semipalmated Plover

We did manage a short trip to the park to help my son expend some energy. I was happy to notice that we were not alone as three Semipalmated Plover had stopped by the river's edge to forage.

Purple Gallinule

"Purple" bird sightings seem to be the theme over the past few weeks . It started with this Purple Gallinule I spotted at the wetlands a week ago. A few other observers I spoke to relayed that there were two in the area and that the Gallinules appeared to be collecting nesting materials. Purple Gallinule babies would be cool to see! I've only seen this species here on one other occasion.

Purple Martin

Today, I came across a small, but noisy flock of Purple Martins. They are not quite as "purple" as the Gallinule, but they were interesting to watch. I noted at least 8 females and 2 males.

Boat-Tailed Grackle

Even though its name doesn't contain the word purple, this Boat-Tailed Grackle was looking quite dapper showing off its iridescent purple and blue in the sun.

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Like Oil and Water

Who doesn't love to see sweet, fluffy baby ducks...

I know I do! I was lucky enough this week to discover a brand new family at a park just a few minutes from my house. I came back to see them on Friday morning, and was greeted in the parking lot by this great raptor, a bird that I am also very fond of.

The lyrics "do you see what I see" popped into my head.

I thought I heard the Caracara respond "yes, I do". I am fond of observing Caracaras and ducklings, however, I am not too fond of observing the ducklings along side the Crested Caracara. I know while I'm thinking the ducklings look adorable, I know the Caracara is thinking they look delicious..

We both watched the ducklings from our own respective positions.

The Caracara even got alittle bored after awhile.

Big yawn...

Luckily, I do NOT have any terrible news to share. I'm hoping there are still ten little ducklings on my next visit!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crab Fishing

I drove over by the Max Brewer causeway for a few minutes this morning to see if any birds were around. I was of course wishing I had enough time to visit the very near by MINWR, but I didn't today. I found this one lonely White Ibis doing some crab fishing in the shallow river water.

I've observed White Ibises consuming a variety of things, but never a crab.

The Ibis had an interesting technique for consuming the crab.

It spend quite a bit of time crushing and disassembling the crab.

As the Ibis removed the legs of the crab, it would drop them into the water.

The Ibis then dropped the body of the crab into the water and retrieved all the legs.