A Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets and the Great Egrets have been here in The Villages, Florida this past week at several park lakes. I spotted the Cattle and Snowy Egrets at the Freedom Pointe lakes, and the Great Egret at the gazebo at Boone Park on Paradise Lake.
The Cattle Egrets have only recently arrived here. They usually are found in cattle and horse pastures attending those animals. The Great Egret is large and has the long yellow bill. The Snowy Egret is the small one with the yellow feet and black bill. The Cattle Egrets are also small but have a few small rust-colored patches of feathers on the head and chest and sides in the breeding season.
All of these egrets enjoy insects with the Snowy and Great Egret mostly liking aquatic animals, insects and the occasional small mouse, lizard or snake. I have never yet seen a Reddish Egret here in The Villages, but you never know. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A Great Egret Cools Off
The Snowy Egret
This group of Sandhill Cranes was spotted a few weeks ago, on the Arnold Palmer Legends golf course in The Villages, FL. All in all, I spotted eleven Sandhill Cranes that day in four different places. Most of these eleven cranes were browsing for food in the grassy areas on the apron of a golf course near a paved golf cart (multi-modal) path. The smaller of the cranes by the way, is a juvenile, called a “Colt”.
Sandhill Cranes mostly eat larger insects, snails, worms, grains and seeds, small frogs, small fish and they will also nibble on grasses and certain plants.
We seem to have a stable group of native Sandhill Cranes here in The Villages area. I really enjoy seeing these large rather majestic birds. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
This sassy Eastern Blue Jay visited my neighborhood on Monday afternoon. I was quite happy to have seen this newcomer. We don’t get a lot of Blue Jays here. This bird was scouting out the sassy lawns (pretty dried out now and tan showing through the green) for tasty bugs to eat.
The jay squawked at me a couple of times and then flew to a neighboring roof to continue its search for a bite to eat. After a moment it was on to other places. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. By the way, please bear with me while I change over to a different photo edit picture loading software. Aperture is giving me a very hard time now days. Thanks!
This small flock of Wood Storks were spotted at Paradise Lake in The Villages, Florida on Friday, May 12, 2017. The wonderfully serene but unusual-looking wading birds were here to enjoy the pickings of the remaining aquatic snails, worms, small minnows, tadpoles, frogs and such in the shallow water. The lake is extremely diminished from its normal water level.
Happily, we did have a big rain on Saturday here but it did not do too much to raise the lake’s level. The Wood Storks were only on the lake that one day. I hope we see them again soon! They are one of my favorites! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Here are some photographs I took of ducks including the ever-so-cute, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (flock in flight) at Paradise Park in The Villages, Florida, on Monday evening at dusk. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Mallard and Mottled Hybrid Ducks
This Tri Colored Heron frequents the pond next to the Wal-Mart parking lot on CR 466 in Buffalo Ridge in The Villages, FL. I have probably photographed this bird before on a previous visit.
The Tri Colored Heron is a hunter of fish, frogs, small tender turtles, and also aquatic snails, worms, large insects, shoreline mice, lizards, and small snakes on shore. It spears the prey with its sharp stiff bill.
On this occasion, I saw the Tri Colored Heron, a few ducks including a lone drake Hooded Merganser, a Common Moorhen, and a pretty little Pied Billed Grebe. No alligators were spotted. I think the two small ‘gators I had seen a few months ago had been relocated. One thing I will add: If you do visit the pond, be aware that there are biting ants on the shore – I remembered and did not get any bites this last time there. In other words, watch not only for the ‘gators but for the ants! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, and Little Blue Herons are the most commonly seen herons here in The Villages, Florida. The Great Blue Heron is the most frequently seen, followed by the Little Blue Heron. I think I have only seen one Green Heron here and that was a year ago.
All of these herons are wading birds that shuffle along in the shallows of the lakes and ponds to spear fish, frogs, or turtles with their long sharp bills. They also eat larger insects, small lizards, and large aquatic insects or snails.
The herons roost up in tall trees. Many prefer the Cypress Trees here. Some also will roost in the medium-sized trees where there also are Ibis or Egrets. We used to have a large area of roosts on Morse Blvd. (I had photographed it and posted about it many months ago) but that area seems out of favor with the birds in recent months. I don’t know the reason for the big move. It could be a case of too much threat from coyotes or other predators. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of the photo.
Little Blue Heron