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These Wood Storks were visiting our neighborhood park lake this past week.  We recently had some needed rain so our lake has risen a little since I took these pictures on Dec. 4, 2016.  I took the pictures at Schwartz Park here in The Villages, FL on Lake Paradise.  The birds were standing in mere inches of water in the middle of the lake!  I think the fishing was good.  There also were White Pelicans, Great Egrets, and a lot of ducks!  Please click on the thumbnail image to view a slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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Male (Drake) Hooded Merganser Ducks

Male (Drake) Hooded Merganser Ducks

A few days ago I spotted a small flock of maybe twenty Hooded Merganser Ducks plus a few hen Ring Necked Ducks paddling around a tiny pond here in my community.  The pond is located in front of the Plaza Grande shopping center at Spanish Springs and is between Highway 27/441 and the frontage road (near all the fast food restaurants).

These Hooded Mergansers eat fish, frogs, small turtles and larger aquatic insects.  They dive for their prey.  They use their long slightly pointed bill to help catch their meal.  Hooded Merganser drakes raise the feather hood on their head to signal alerts of danger or an unusual circumstance.  The hens are almost all a rich brown color with a tuft mohawk of feathers on the top of their head.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

Hooded Merganser Ducks

Hooded Merganser Ducks

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers and hen Ring-Necked Ducks

Hooded Mergansers and hen Ring-Necked Ducks

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White Pelicans migrate to Florida from the Mid-west each year for the Winter.  There is now a flock of about twenty here in my neighborhood that arrived today.  Many are youngsters as evident from their light pink bill pouch.  As the White Pelicans mature, their pouch gets thicker stronger and turns a much more yellow color (breeding White Pelicans also develop a ridge in the middle of the top of their upper bill).

White Pelicans eat fish, frogs, small turtles, and large aquatic insects.  Our lakes and ponds have dramatically dropped their water levels recently so the fishing is very good! In addition to all the pelicans, I also spotted four Wood Storks, several assorted ducks, and two Great Egrets.  No sight of the usual mob of Double Crested Cormorants that usually is around with the pelicans.  Perhaps they are still in another area of The Villages, or are on their way!  I took these pictures this afternoon, Dec. 1, 2016 at Boone Park (Facing across the road toward the pond area of Paradise Lake).  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of the picture.  I will be back with a new post on Monday!  Have a happy weekend!

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Killdeer

Killdeer at the Freedom Pointe Lakes

Killdeer, Great Blue Herons, a Little Blue Heron, and a number of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were all spotted on and in our little lakes here in The Villages, Florida, in the last several days.  Additionally, there were Wood Storks, Anhingas, a few Hooded Merganser Ducks, Ring Necked Ducks, Mallards, Egyptian and Canada Geese, and Great Egrets.  I think the Killdeer possibly was standing right on its nest in the picture above, but it may also just be some pebbles.

I enjoy going sound to different lakes to check out what kinds of birds are visiting.  More and more (and different) birds are arriving during the Winter migration.  Just yesterday, I saw an amazing fifty or so Great Egrets plus about twenty Wood Stork out on one of the small park lakes here.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo.  Enjoy!

Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Swartz Park on Lake Paradise

Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Swartz Park on Lake Paradise

Little Blue Heron (Boone Park on Paradise Lake)

Little Blue Heron (Boone Park on Paradise Lake)

Great Blue Heron at the Freedom Point Lakes

Great Blue Heron at a Freedom Pointe area lake

Wood Stork Wednesday

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This migratory flock of Wood Storks was seen on Nov. 17, 2016 at the small lake right behind Freedom Pointe assisted living facilities on El Camino in The Villages, FL.  The placid storks were among a throng of egrets, herons, ducks, geese and cormorants at the two side by side little lakes.

The Wood Storks are a threatened species that has been known to fly as far as fifty miles from its nest in search of foods like:  aquatic worms, snails, small fish, small turtles, frogs and fish or frog eggs.

The Wood Storks are so calm and enjoyable to watch.  They seem to be curious about people but are unfazed when people are in their vicinity.  They are not “Tame” but are wild exotic birds.  It is very important that people to not feed Wood Storks as it will cause them to become dependent on people’s hand-outs and then the birds will not hunt naturally as much (and the handouts may prove unhealthy for their system).  Another thing is that it is against Florida law to feed exotic birds.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

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Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

There is a huge flock of Double Crested Cormorants here at one of the little community lakes here in The Villages, FL. The Double Crested Cormorants have migrated South for the Winter.  These kinds of cormorants also can be seen in fresh water marshland and salt marshes  in Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico and some areas of the Atlantic.

The Double Crested Cormorants often accompany the White Pelicans and sometimes, the Wood Storks in their migration.  The cormorants are fishing birds.  They dive into the water to catch their fish or frogs.  Wading birds and pelicans often help herd the fish into the waiting bills of the cormorants or vice-versa.

This bunch of cormorants are presently on the two little lakes behind the Freedom Pointe Assisted Living Facilities on El Camino here in The Villages.  I believe these birds are also roosting in the large trees along the shore.  I took these pictures on Nov. 17, 2016 late in the afternoon.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

Most of the big flock of Double Crested Cormorants

A large part of the big flock of Double Crested Cormorants

Cormorants drying their wing feathers

Cormorants drying their wing feathers

Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

A Southern Bald Eagle

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This Southern Bald Eagle is likely one I have photographed in this same spot a few times before.  I spotted the eagle on the top of a high tension electric line tower at the Santiago Recreation Center golf course in The Villages, FL.

The eagle was watching the goings-on at the golf course lake and the fairways of that same course, which the tower overlooks.  Bald Eagles love eating fish as well as Common Coots, ducklings and sometimes rodents such as mice rats and squirrels.  These Southern Bald Eagles are native eagles here in Florida and are slightly smaller than the typical Bald Eagle.

By the way, I tried to find those pelicans I had seen a few days ago but could not do so.  I did see about a hundred or more Double-crested Cormorants and about twenty Wood Storks.  Pictures will appear here in posts next week.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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