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Sandhill Cranes Part 1 of 2

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Sandhill Cranes arrived at the little neighborhood Paradise Lake here on Saturday night (12/14/17) at twilight.  First I spotted two of the big birds and then the rest of the flock flew in.  It was quite the sight!  The lake is very low again so I think the Sandhill Cranes like the mudflat sandbars in the middle of the lake.  I spotted twenty-one cranes at Swartz Park!

I believe this flock of Sandhill Cranes are migrating from up North.  I think that we do have a few here that are native to Florida as well that may be among the bunch.  One of the Sandhill Cranes is either a leucastic genetic mutation bird, or is a hybrid between the Whooping Crane and Sandhill Crane.  That individual is a lot lighter in color than the other twenty cranes.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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Little Sweeties

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, and a lone Tufted Titmouse were spotted in the past week here in my neighborhood.  One of the Palm Warblers was seen below ornamental grass at  Paradise Park in The Villages, FL.  The other birds were in my own yards.  It is great to see all the newly arriving songbirds who have migrated here for the Winter!  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo.  Enjoy!

Eastern Bluebird male

Eastern Bluebird male

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

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Wood Ducks were spotted at Tuscawilla Park in Ocala, Florida on Tuesday, January 4, 2017.  I had an errand in Ocala so we decided to check on what was going on wildlife-wise at Tuscawilla.  Mostly ducks, cormorants, ibis, and a few Wood Storks.  No pelicans or herons at all on that occasion.

The Wood Ducks are especially beautiful.  Notice that one of the hens is very light in color.  I may have photographed this leucastic hen two years ago there.  The leucastic color is just a faded color on the feathers and is a rare condition, probably a genetic mutation.

Wood Ducks eat fish, crayfish, frogs, tender small turtles, and aquatic insects for the most part.  Occasionally they will also eat grains and fruit.  They nest up perhaps ten feet or more in trees where the ducklings glide out onto the ground as pretty-much new hatchlings.  That always amazes me.  The nests are usually in hollowed out spaces in trees or in specially made “Duck boxes” on posts on the immediate shore or in the water on poles.

Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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A Belted Kingfisher, White Pelicans, Sea Gulls, Muscovy Ducks, and Canada Geese were all spotted on Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL,  on January 7, 2017.  This little neighborhood lake has a few more inches of water in it since we got a good soaking rain yesterday and the night before last.  I am so very glad!  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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White Ibises

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White Ibises are a common sight here in Central Florida.  I snapped these pictures yesterday along my street here in The Villages, FL, and also in Tuscawilla Park in Ocala, FL.

White Ibises eat earth worms, grubs, aquatic worms, aquatic snails such as Apple Snails, and several aquatic and land insects.  The Ibis flock likes to roost or rest, in trees.  It is quite the sight to see a whole flock take off at once flying around the park!  Something like out of a movie such as “The Birds” by Hitchcock.

I enjoy having Ibises around.  They are sweet useful big birds and are pretty harmless mellow additions to the neighborhood.  It does take a bit of getting used-to seeing the flock stroll around the yards (like a herd of cows actually!).  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday’s Whistlers

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Just some random photographs I took in December of the many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks on Lake Paradise, here in The Villages, FL.  I am happy to report that we did get a little rain last night which will certainly be welcome as we have been in a drought.

Lake Paradise, a local park lake, is rapidly drying up and the views from Boone and Swartz Park are mostly of mud flat lake bottom now.  The main part of our lake still has water but fewer birds (lots of fish have been eaten by pelicans, herons, egrets, ducks, cormorants and sea gulls).  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photograph.  Enjoy!

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Songbird Sightings

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

A Northern Mockingbird, juvenile male Northern Cardinal, a sweet Morning Dove, and a Palm Warbler in the grass were all spotted along my street this last weekend.  Not much going on other than the big wading birds and ducks on the ever-shrinking local park lakes (I have seen a large number of Seagulls in recent days on the water).  It has been quite windy and cooler here.  We are also in a drought which is not helping matters.  Hopefully rain is in the forecast here in coming days.  Wishing everyone a very happy 2017!  Happy birding!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

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