It’s still baby bird season here in Central Florida. I thought I’d update you on several I’ve been following.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swans
As of May 23rd, there are three surviving cygnets at Lake Cherokee (this photo is from May 17th). On April 25th, I counted 6.
Lake Davis Mute Swans
There are only two cygnets left at Lake Davis (this photo is from May 17th too). On April 25th, there were 5. They seem a little bit larger / older to me than the ones at Lake Cherokee.
There’s a lot of wildlife in and around Lake Davis and Lake Cherokee. One neighbor’s seen owls, hawks, eagles and otters there and it wouldn’t be surprising if there are alligators too. Life for these young swans is dangerous.
All of the remaining ones seem to be healthy and growing. Hopefully they’re big enough now to avoid any more predation.
Winter Park Ospreys
Wing exercise – These two chicks are still in this nest. In this photo (also from May 17th) Mom and sibling duck out of the way as the other one exercises its wings.
They’re growing fast and getting stronger. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they fledge.
Bonus baby birds
Here are a few other young birds I’ve seen in the last week. These are from a stroll at Orlando Wetlands Park.
Black-necked Stilts: Mom and chick
A young Night Heron in flight. I think this one is a Black-crowned Night Heron. They’re much more common around here than the Yellow-crowned ones.
Family cruise – Mottled Duck Mom and ducklings
Okay – that’s all of the baby bird news I have. Now for a more serious subject.
Here In the US, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May (the 25th). It’s a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy. Every one of us owes them a debt we can never repay.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And if you can – make some photos!
It’s also a popular place – there’s a lot to see and a lot of people looking. Kevin M. and I went over last Saturday and here are some highlights from our visit.
Great Horned Owl parent and chick
There’s been a Great Horned Owl nest along the entrance road for several years. It’s marked off with tape and signs and there’s usually a crowd observing so you can’t miss it. The image above is a composite. They didn’t both look toward me at the same time, so I combined two exposures in Photoshop. The chick seems pretty large. I’m guessing it must be several weeks old. They grow fast – go over soon if you want to see it before it fledges.
This hawk startled several birds (and me) when it launched towards a coot on the surface of the canal by Marsh Rabbit Run. It missed and then stayed in this tree for a bit before moving on. I almost didn’t make the photo, since at first glance, it looked like a Red-shoulder Hawk to me. But luckily someone nearby said “That’s a nice Cooper’s”, which is a new life bird for me. It’s young so the colors aren’t typical for an adult, but the eyes give it away.
I also tried one of the features in the new firmware for the Olympus E-M1 MII camera: Pro Capture (hi) mode with the PL 100 – 400 lens. I wanted to catch the bird as it launched off the branch. It didn’t quite work because hi speed Pro Capture freezes focus after the first shot. It took off at an angle toward the camera and the bird isn’t sharp in the frame. Oh well, another thing to add to my ‘try again’ list.
Pig and People
This wild pig was foraging along the Heron Hideout path. It’s pretty small, seemed very calm and used to all the curious people, and minded its own business. But I’d still be cautious around it.
Gray Catbird – infrared, monochrome
I forgot the spare battery for my main camera back in the car and of course it died on our hike just after the hawk photo. But I also had my IR camera with me with plenty of battery left. So I switched my long lens over to it and kept shooting. We spotted this Gray Catbird in the bushes, and I like the way the bird stands out from the vegetation in IR converted to B&W.
Cedar Waxwing @ Circle B (Photo by Kevin McKinney, used with permission)
We found a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the branches above the path – but my photos of them are in infrared too. Unlike me, Kevin was prepared and he was kind enough to let me use one of his from the day for this post.
Since it’s a long drive, we got lazy and slept in – so no sunrise images. I did make some infrared landscapes there and I’m planning to use them in a future post, so check back for that. Maybe I’ll include the IR Waxwings too.
We usually walk down Alligator Alley but it’s closed. The gators are apparently active in that area although we didn’t spot any. We did spot Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings, a Barred Owl, Blue Wing Teals, Double Crested Cormorants, Anhingas, American Coots and chicks, a Purple Gallinule, the usual Herons and Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Warblers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, turtles, and more. Like I said – a lot to see!
Here in Central Florida, birds are starting to nest and raise the next generation. Their colors get brighter, feathers get fancy and they show off to attract a mate (and photographers!).
Great Egret display
One place to see this is at Gatorland. Wild birds nest above the alligator ponds there because gators keep predators such at raccoons and snakes away from the nests. You can take advantage of the early entry program to photograph when the light is good and get close to tolerant birds that don’t mind people on the boardwalk.
It’s early in the season now and Great Egrets are the most active. Later in the Spring, you can see Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Cormorants, Anhingas, Wood Storks, Cattle Egrets and maybe a few others nesting too. Here’s a Great Egret on her nest with 3 young chicks. I’d guess these three are less than a week old. And it looks like they’ve just been fed, since none are squawking for more to eat.
Moe, Larry, Curly, and Mom. This is a two frame composite with one focused on the chicks and the other on Mom.
There are other things to photograph there, too.
Happy Gator. Just what a photographer wants: a smiling model in good light!
Gatorland is one of my favorite places to photograph. You can read through the articles I’ve written about it at this link. I think you should go – you’ll have fun and get a some good photos.
Thursday night, Tom M. invited me to meet him at Gatorland. We both showed up at 7:30 Friday morning to see what’s changed from our visit on February 20th. The answer is a lot! Last time, it was mostly the Great Egrets starting to breed. This time several more species are dressed up in their fancy colors and plumage and building nests. And the Great Egret chicks are starting to hatch. Here are some photos from the trip.
I saw this male Anhinga getting ready to take off and managed to make a frame just as it left the tree. You can see the breeding season blue around his eye as well as some of the crest on his head.
Anhinga close up
Cormorant eyes are always pretty in the right light. They add a striking blue mouth during nesting season. Some of the Cormorants are already on nests. This pair looked like they were just about to “get busy”.
Tri-colored Herons also add a dash of blue for breeding season. They’re starting to show off with courting behaviors and poses to attract mates.
Tri-colored Heron displaying
And here’s a couple of Great Egret siblings huddled up close to Mama in the nest. I’m not sure you can call these young chicks without a full set of feathers beautiful, but they are cute.
Mama and two chicks
Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Wood Storks and other species usually also nest in the this rookery – so we still have those to look forward to. It’s a wonderful time to visit Gatorland, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, or your local bird rookery. Don’t miss this chance to see nature in action!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Three of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida last weekend. The Circle B is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from where I live, but it’s well worth the drive. I haven’t been over since last October – so I was eager to see what’s going on. We managed to get there before sunrise and were greeted with this scene:
We saw a lot of the regular resident wildlife including: Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Red Winged Blackbirds, Ibis, a few Alligators, lots of Apple Snails and eggs, lots of Dragon Flies, lots of Spiders, and a horde of hungry mosquitos! OK, I didn’t actually see the mosquitos – but I sure knew they were there! There were also a great many Limpkins, probably due to the abundance of Apple Snails.
Strolling Limpkin – I loved the light on this bird and the background. If she’d only turned her head just a bit more toward the camera. I guess some models are still learning “the moves”.
I was surprised to see baby Limpkins too. I didn’t realize that they breed year round. It was a treat to watch Mom feeding her chicks and see the chicks moving around trying to find snails for themselves.
Limpkin Chick – This little one climbed up on the reed and then had a hard time getting back down. The other three chicks stuck close to Mom. I think this one will be trouble.
In the not so usual category of wildlife, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles, a Fox (darn, too dark for a photo!), White Pelicans (they apparently stayed through the summer), and many small hard to ID Warblers (passing through on migration?).
It was a good visit. Much better than the foggy one last year when I hurt my foot. Now that cooler weather is starting to come through Florida we’ll have to go back more often.