A River Otter; two Wild Turkeys; a Bald Eagle; about twenty Limpkins; Sandhill Cranes; Little Blue Herons; Great Blue Herons; Anhingas; Turkey and Black Vultures; Double-crested Cormorants; a Black-crowned Night Heron; a Tri-Colored Heron; Snowy Egrets; Great Egrets; a Belted Kingfisher; Alligators; Turtles; Purple Gallinules; and Common Moorhens were all spotted during a two hour scenic boat cruise from the very beautiful Blue Springs State Park on the St. John’s River here in Florida yesterday morning.
The pontoon boat Captain drives slowly through backwater channels chock-full of wildlife! I enthusiastically recommend this cruise! Advance reservations are likely needed and tickets today cost $20.00 per adult plus a $6.00 per car state park day use admission fee.
Part 2 will be posted here on Monday. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Sandhill Crane on its nest
Great Blue Heron
A Young Alligator
Little Blue Heron
Alligators, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Bufflehead Duck, Mallard Ducks, Common Moorhens, Anhingas, Pied-billed Grebe, and Common Coots all were spotted at two small ponds right next to a small shopping center area near The Villages, Florida on Highway 466. Yes, right next to the Walmart! I took these pictures yesterday afternoon (Jan. 14, 2016). I have taken pictures at these ponds several different times in the last year. There often is wildlife to be seen there.
I am amazed at how well wildlife copes with all the new development. I am glad these wetlands, though tiny, were saved! I spotted three Alligators in the larger of the two ponds by the way and one of those was decent sized! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
Drake Mallard Ducks
Great Blue Heron
Pair of Mallard Ducks
Drake (male) Bufflehead Duck
American White Ibises seem to be around in this area in many spots. Most are gathered on the shorelines of the little park lakes but some also are roaming the neighborhood grazing on lawns. The American White Ibises eat insects and worms mainly but also enjoy seeds and sometimes plants.
American Ibises are found in marshes and along bodies of water in addition to parks and sometimes, neighborhood lawns, here in Florida. Occasionally American White Ibises can be spotted in other warm weather semi-tropical states, usually along the Gulf of Mexico, and Georgia or South Carolina near or on the Atlantic coast (I have also heard of some Ibises being seen in Southern California once in a while).
The Ibises are big flock social birds and like being with geese, ducks, herons, egrets, and the Wood Storks. Ibises seem to be quite placid and content and people can easily observe the birds from a distance without spooking them – at least here in suburbia that is true. I took most of these pictures last evening at dusk, with the exception being that of the white adult with the brown-colored juvenile which I took back in August also at the same lake. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
Wood Storks are really wonderful big wading birds! I especially enjoy observing the rather unusual-looking rare birds. A few Wood Storks have been around the ponds and small lakes of The Villages development here in Florida, recently. Wood Storks dine on aquatic life such as fish, frogs, snails, worms, insects, crayfish, eggs, and small reptiles. Once in a while, they will eat small birds, and even small rodents.
These birds are not park pets and are wild. The Wood Storks are just visiting the general area a while because of the plentiful natural food and numerous small lakes where many other types of wading birds are often present.
I took these pictures at varying times during the last couple of months at a small park lake close to the Spanish Springs Square near the parking lot of the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
These White-faced and Howler Monkeys were one of the best parts of my visit to Lake Gatun in the Panama Canal. We were on an excellent shore excursion by small tour boat that went into the back-waters of Lake Gatun along shorelines of some of the small islands there. Our guide and the boat Capt. showed us where the monkeys live and actually drew a few of the White-faced Monkeys close to the water’s edge.
One super-bold White-faced Monkey actually jumped onto the boat with us to get a peanut that was offered by the guide. Our guide mentioned that these monkeys seem to prefer peanuts in the shell to tie-bits of banana! The White-faced Monkeys and Howler Monkeys eat nuts, fruits, leaves, ants, spiders, and small insects. They primarily prefer fruits however. The Howler Monkeys are the dark charcoal grey to black ones (mother and baby) and are very shy. The Howler Monkeys did not come close to the boat at all. I took these pictures at the Panama Canal on October 30, 2013 in the morning. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy
Female Snail Kite
Female Snail Kite
Kite birds make their home in the huge fresh water lake in the Panama Canal called “Lake Gatun”. I believe that these two birds shown, are likely Snail Kites. This lake is fed by the Chagras River. The lake is a man-make body of water created to allow ships to transit the locks of the Panama Canal. There are several small islands in this lake
that have tropical rain forests on them. The Kites love to hunt for the large tropical snails on leafy plants in the lush rain forest.
The male is the charcoal black bird, while the hen is brown and rust-colored. Some of the Kites are year around residents while some are Winter visitors or are simply stopping for a bit on their way to South America. I took these pictures in the Panama Canal on October 30, 2013. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Female Snail Kite
Male Snail Kite