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
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!
These Northern Shoveler Ducks were gathered together in a tight circle at a little pond near the Polo Ridge neighborhood of The Villages, Florida on Feb. 18, 2017. The ducks were hunting for food. They circle together ’round and ’round creating a whirlpool in the pond which traps their food and they also dip their big bills into the water to catch their food and filter it with their bill. The Shovelers eat aquatic plants, and aquatic snails, small aquatic insects and small aquatic animals such as frogs, tadpoles and tiny fish. Mostly they are plant eating ducks. The Northern Shoveler is a “Dabbling duck”.
The Northern Shoveler drakes here were mostly tried-colored (blueish-black, white and rusty brown) and the hens were brown and black (the hens resemble Black Duck or Mallard hens). The main distinctive feature about these ducks is their bill. The Northern Shoveler’s bill is huge and flared at the tip – it does look like a shovel! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
This is the first family of Egyptian Geese I have seen. I have previously photographed adult Egyptian Geese but have never had an opportunity to see Egyptian Goslings as they are rare here.
Egyptian Geese are native to Africa and are a relative of the Shellducks. They eat plants such as grass and also grains and seeds. I think (just a quick guess) there maybe twenty to thirty Egyptian Geese here in this area but these are spread out over many lakes. The breed is just establishing themselves here in Florida.
These geese were imported to be golf course or farm pets and have escaped into the wild. They are not common. I took these pictures on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at the little lake behind Freedom Pointe here in The Villages, Florida. I took the pictures with my long zoom from across the lake as to not disturb the family of geese. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A Little Blue Heron, a few Common Moorhens, and a little Pied-billed Grebe were spotted at the pond next to the Wal-Mart parking lot on CR 466 around the Buffalo Ridge area in The Villages, Florida last week.
The Little Blue Heron starts out as a white bird and gets darker with age until it is a lovely purplish-blue. The Little Blue Heron also has greenish-yellow legs and feet. It is a beautiful big wading bird. The Little Blue Heron eats fish, frogs, turtles, crayfish, aquatic worms, aquatic snails, and sometimes, shore-based insects and mice. The heron roosts in tall trees, and prefers Cypress Trees when possible. please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. My thoughts and prayers are with those people in Northern California who are affected by flooding, or the precautionary evacuations for the Oroville Dam difficulties.
Little Blue Heron
This Trip-colored Heron was spotted on Thursday, February 9, 2017, at the pond beside the Walmart parking lot on CR 466 in The Villages, FL. This small pond is where I have photographed many wading birds in the last year, as well as a couple of small alligators (no alligators yesterday). There also were ducks, a grebe, and a glorious Little Blue Heron. I will share additional pictures of those other birds in coming posts.
This Trip-colored Heron flew in and was wading very close to where I was observing from the shoreline. The bird was oblivious to my presence for about a minute and then I slowly backed away. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
This group of Wood Storks was here in December but several are still around the area. The Wood Storks are genuinely odd-looking sweet big birds! I love seeing them here.
Wood Storks roost in trees but wade in shallow water to hunt for crustaceans, aquatic snails, larger aquatic insects, small fish, shore-side large land insects, and worms. The Wood Storks also eat grains and plants on occasion.
Mostly the Wood Storks just stand around. That seems to really be the case. Wood Storks are very passive calmer birds and that helps make them easy to photograph. I sometimes wonder what they are thinking and doing? Fascinating birds. By the way, the younger birds have lighter-colored pink feet (Wood Storks of all ages do have pink feet) and lighter-colored bills. I have read that Wood Storks may fly some fifty miles from their own roost area to find enough food. That seems amazing! They sure are good at flying! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!