Here are the last of the photographs I took last week at the Sharon Wiechens Nature Preserve in The Villages, FL. I saw a Great Blue Heron; the bill and neck of an Anhinga bird peeking out of the murky canal water in front of the lake; a Coot; and a male Boat-tailed Grackle. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Boat-tailed Grackle (male)
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Water is all around us here in lovely Florida! I live in a county with many ponds and lakes. Our community has many man-made park lakes and ponds. Here are some of the beautiful big birds that visit the shores of these community lakes here in The Villages, Florida. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo. Enjoy.
Note: We will be having a hurricane (tropical cyclone or typhoon as it is called elsewhere) come by our state on Friday. I live right in the center of the peninsula about 60 miles from the coastline. If the weather is not terrible and we have power I will post as normal on Friday. If not, well, there is a great reason. I will let you know what happens around here (I do not expect it to be bad at all).
Here are a bunch of pictures of various water birds that I photographed last night at twilight at the lovely little Lake Paradise from the shoreline of Paradise Park in The Villages, FL.
I enjoyed my vacation. I was in California visiting my family and attending a wedding. I did not take many pictures at all on the trip. We thankfully just missed all the terrible floods in Louisiana by only 2 days! We actually drove through areas that just days later, were under water. I hope you will remember the communities in Louisiana who have suffered the floods in your thoughts and prayers.
Happily I saw a new family of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks there at Lake Paradise along with many Canada Geese, White Ibis, Mallards and Florida Mottled Ducks. There also were a few Anhingas, and a Snowy Egret.
I did miss seeing all of the big birds on my trip. I did see a California Sea-lion, a Jack Rabbit, and a flock of wild “Freeway chickens” on Highway 99 up in Northern California above Sacramento. All in all, a great trip!
Anhingas and Double Crested Cormorants both are fairly commonly seen here in Central Florida lakes and ponds during the Winter months. Both are water birds that fly as well as swim, dive, and stand or walk on the shoreline. Anhingas prefer fresh water and Cormorants are seen in both fresh and salt water. Both birds are meat eaters.
The Anhinga is a larger bird than the Double Crested Cormorant. Anhingas have a long sword-like bill while the Double Crested Cormorants have a shorter slightly thicker bill with a slight hook at the tip. The Anhinga has a honey brown throat and some streaky white feathers on the tail and back. The Double Crested Cormorant is very dark brown with the orange-yellow feet and bill.
Anhingas tend to roost in tall trees such as the Cypress Tree. Anhingas are often solitary or with a mate while cormorants tend to be more of flock group birds. I photographed both of these kinds of birds here in the past month. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Double Crested Cormorants
Double Crested Cormorants with Pelicans
Close-up of the Bill of an Anhinga
Double Crested Cormorants
Anhinga (left) and Cormorant
While I was at the shopping center ponds the other day, I also spotted turtles, a couple of alligators, and an Anhinga perched up in a small tree right next to the shore of the pond. These were in addition to the Great Egret, pair of Hooded Mergansers, a Common Moorhen (red flesh over its bill), and the Common Coot. I ran out of room on Friday’s post, so I’ll show photos of these animals today. Please click on the thumbnail image to see a slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Common Cormorants and Anhingas are both similar-looking semi-tropical water birds. They fly well, and also paddle around lakes, ponds, and rivers. The Common Cormorants also can frequently be found in salt water marshes or along the shore of the ocean. Both birds eat fish, aquatic snails, worms, frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and small turtles. The Common Cormorants also eat some shellfish as well as small crabs.
One distinct physical difference between these birds is that the Anhinga has a straight strong bill that is sword-like. The Common Cormorants also have a sturdy bill but it has a slight downward hook at its tip. Both birds often can be seen with their wings outspread to dry. Both also roost in the trees. I took these pictures last week here in my area at two smaller lakes and at a pond. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Anhingas are tropical water birds that are excellent in flight and in the water. Some people know these birds as “Snake birds” because of their sinuous long neck. The Anhinga hunts mostly in the water and sometimes all you can see is the head or the head and neck of the bird just above the surface of the pond, lake, or river. These birds are very speedy in the air! Mostly they are seen flying low across the body of water they live near.
There are many Anhingas in my area of Florida. I live in a county where there are lots of smaller lakes loaded with the fish, frogs, turtles, and larger aquatic insects that the Anhinga likes eating. The Anhinga will spear its prey using its long sharply pointed bill. One often sees Anhingas with their wings outspread to dry their feathers after finishing their time hunting in the water. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!