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
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!