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A Male Downy Woodpecker

This tiny bird is a male Downy Woodpecker.  It is among the smallest of the woodpeckers in the United States.  You can tell it is a male by that red spot on the crown of its head.

The Downy was pecking away at a larger branch in my Live Oak Trees when I spotted it.  It flitted around from branch to branch in search of insects.  Sometimes when the bird drills or pecks it is done to communicate, other times the drumming or pecking is to drill a hole or enlarge a hole for either a nesting place, or a storage unit.  The other reason for pecking, is to discover and dislodge insects in the bark of the tree.

I always love seeing these birds!  This is the first woodpecker here in quite a long time.  I wish the light was better when I took the pictures.  The Live Oaks in the yard are gigantic and are very shady.  I had a hard time getting a decent picture and have resorted to heavy editing to show the bird in a way you can see a bit of what the fellow looks like.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture.  Enjoy!

A Drake Common Moorhen

This Common Moorhen, a member of the Rail family of birds and a cousin to its almost look-alike, the Coot, was spotted at the Wal-Mart pond on CR-466, in The Villages, Florida last week.

Common Moorhens live happily in ponds, on the shorelines of lakes, and also in marshes.  Occasionally they are also on rivers.  These duck-like birds eat plants.  They are attractive and harmless. The hens (I did not see any that day) are a brown color but similar in looks to the drakes, which are charcoal dark grey and white with a red patch above their bill or beak.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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This male Hooded Merganser duck was spotted on Sunday March 5, 2017, at the Wal-Mart pond on CR 466 in The Villages, Florida.

The Hooded Merganser was first seen lounging on the base of a large pond fountain.  After a moment, the duck slid into the water and paddled off in search of a bite to eat.  I did not see a female or hen with the merganser.  I did see a few Mallard Ducks there as well as a Little Blue Heron and a single Common Moorhen.

Hooded Mergansers are gorgeous ducks.  The males are rusty-brown, white and black in color.   Male Hooded Mergansers have a large white hooded region on their heads that they raise when alert or to signal danger to the other ducks.  These ducks dive for prey of fish, frogs, crayfish, tadpoles and small tender turtles.

I have been seeing the Hooded Mergansers with some Bufflehead Ducks, and Lesser Scaups around the community in the last couple of weeks.  Pretty soon, these migratory ducks will head North.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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Blue Monday

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This Little Blue Heron was spotted yesterday, March 5, 2017, at the pretty little pond next to the Wal-Mart parking lot on CR 466 here in The Villages.  I have photographed birds and wildlife at this pond many times.  No, I did not see any alligators yesterday there, just this bird, a drake Hooded Merganser, three Mallards, and a lone Common Moorhen.  Not much going on at the pond yesterday afternoon (It was very windy).

Little Blue Herons eat fish, frogs, turtles, mice, lizards, snakes and large insects.  They spear their prey with their sharp long bill.  These birds actually start out as white-colored juveniles and get darker blue as they age.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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Double Crested Cormorants are local resident birds but there also are quite a few flocks of migrating birds here in this area during the Winter months.

Double Crested Cormorants are meat-eating birds.  They dive and catch fish, frogs, turtles and baby alligators.  They often are spotted with flocks of White Pelicans or among Great and Snowy Egrets.  They spread their wings to dry them after coming out of the water.

These birds closely resemble the Anhinga but they are larger bodied and have a broader bill that has a slight downward hook on the end.  I took these pictures last week here in The Villages at a pond in the Polo Ridge neighborhood and also at the small lakes at Freedom Pointe.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

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Larry The Alligator is a huge old American Alligator that apparently has lived in this pond for most if not all of its life.  Larry The Alligator lives in The Villages, Florida in his pond near the Paddock Square in the Brownsville area of The Villages.  The pond is a few blocks from the commercial area and is about a block from parking lots.  The pond area is fairly large and has a fence with the sign seen below.  I took the pictures a few days ago.

As you also can see from one of the photographs, the alligator caused a traffic jam of golf carts!  A major event was winding down on the square which is one of the reasons why there also were a lot of folks on the cart path there.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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Wiechens Preserve, Part 2

 

Tri-color Heron

Tri-color Heron

Tri-color Heron

Tri-color Heron

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, Common Moorhens, and a gorgeous Little Blue Heron were spotted the other day at the scenic Sharon Wiechens Preserve in The Villages, Florida.  All were feeding as it was late in the afternoon while we visited.

This nice preserve is on the shore of a medium-sized lake and has been open about a year or so now.  I am amazed at the numbers of birds seen in a small area and all are wild!  The preserve has a concrete walkway, a two-floor wood observation tower deck and a wooden pier walkway that juts out into the lake quite a way and then returns in a half rectangle toward the shore.  Lots of opportunities to see ducks, moorhens, coots and the occasional egrets, herons, ibis, and Bald Eagle (eagle up on the far electric tower).

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

Little Blue Heron and Common Moorhen

Little Blue Heron and Common Moorhen

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

 

 

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