Double-crested Cormorants are here for their Winter visit to The Villages, Florida. These birds are at home on and in the water, as well as roosting in the larger trees over-night. They are also excellent at flying from place to place. These water birds will be leaving our area in coming days and weeks to start migrating North. Cormorants often accompany White Pelicans or Great Egrets in their migration.
Cormorants eat fish, frogs, small turtles, baby alligators, and larger aquatic insects. The brown, rust. grey and black birds with orange bills, dive for their prey. The birds like Anhingas, spread their wings to dry them before flight.
Sometimes, the Double-crested Cormorants will assist the White Pelicans in hunting by circling the fish to gather them and then sharing the bounty. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Six Sandhill Cranes were spotted on the shores of our little neighborhood park lake, Paradise Lake, on Sunday, December 11, 2016. Two were near Swartz Park and four were on the far shore across from Paradise Park.
I think I witnessed a courtship dance but that is uncertain. All of the sudden two of the four cranes started flapping their wings, bowing down a little and then each hopped several times. I think it was hubba-hubba I am great or maybe aggression? Who knows? I have never seen this behavior in person. These are likely not resident Florida cranes. I believe these are Winter visitors and may be on the way further South. Again, who can tell? Perhaps these beautiful big birds will remain in The Villages for the Winter season. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version. By the way, in one picture, there is a Great Blue Heron standing very close to a Sandhill Crane. The crane is the one with the red marking on its forehead. Enjoy!
White-tailed Deer; Nine-banded Armadillos; a Juvenile Little Blue Heron; a Great Egret; a Double-crested Cormorant, a chatty Red-bellied Woodpecker, and an enormous migratory flock of Turkey Vultures were spotted at the lovely Manatee Springs State Park near Chiefland, Florida on November 8, 2016. Sorry to say, I did not see a single Manatee. I think it is probably too early in the season for Manatee sightings here.
This beautiful little Florida State Park is on the shoreline of the Manatee Spring and also the Suwanee River. There is a very nice campground and the park also has a canoe and Kayak rental program also with a nice launch area and small concession stand restaurant. People may swim in the 72 degree spring but there is no lifeguard service. I chose not to swim as it was too cool for that. I will conclude my series about this park on Monday with my next post. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Cypress Tree “Knees”
The Suwanee River
This flock of Cattle Egrets likely is the first huge flock I have seen in breeding plumage. There were about a hundred big birds resting on the banks of the larger pond next to the Walmart in The Villages on CR 441. I have often gone to this pond to check out the wildlife and take pictures there. It is amazing to see such a large number of egrets at once! By the way, there also were about three or four White Ibis mixed-in with that bunch enjoying the delightful pond.
I also spotted two Great Blue Herons, on American Alligator (a small one), several coots, a couple Double Crested Cormorants, a Great White Heron, and a few ducks. This is a busy wonderful pond! The only downside was the trash that blew into the pond area from the street and busy store parking lot. It has been very windy here. I took these pictures on Saturday afternoon, March 26, 2016, at lunch time. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger photo. Enjoy!
Older Juvenile White Ibis
I frequently see several flocks of White Ibises here in my area. They are often seen in the parks and sometimes in neighborhoods, browsing for grubs worms and insects on lush lawns. They also wade in shallow water foraging for aquatic snails, small fish, and aquatic vegetation.
The White Ibises here tend to fly to various places from pretty much the same roosting area. They like to roost in small trees in a marsh were alligators keep predators away. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Just for your enjoyment, here are a mix of easy and medium-hard to guess bird identification pictures. I know my friends who are “Birders” will know these birds. At one time or another, all of these nine birds have been featured on this blog in the last five years. These pictures all were taken here in Florida, in Marion or Lake Counties. Let me know your ideas in the comments. Answers will be given in the next post. Enjoy!
G. (It’s a Reflection)
Songbirds such as Cardinals and Bluebirds are just so cheery I always appreciate sighting them! I saw these Eastern Bluebirds and Northern Cardinals here in the last few days. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger view of the photograph. Enjoy!
Sandhill Cranes are really wonderful big birds. Isn’t it wonderful how the chick has grown? I am so very glad for it. The Sandhill Cranes seem to be outstanding parents. I had photographed this little chick with its parents several weeks ago, about a quarter-mile down the road from this particular ranch pond. This pond is a place I often go to photograph wildlife and is either at, or next to, one of the larger, important horse farms in Northwest Marion County, Florida.
There are a lot of cattle on this pasture with the pond these days. The big equestrian event has concluded so there is less human commotion around the area. So far, the pond still has wildlife living there, even with those cows! There is a nesting pair of Canada Geese and another nesting pair of Mottled Ducks there now. I took these pictures from the roadway on April 2, 2015. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
A Bald Eagle, Great Egret, a Sand Hill Crane, a hawk, two Turkey Vultures, and an Osprey were all spotted yesterday during my brief visit to the Paynes Prairie Preserve overlook on highway 441, just South of Gainesville, Florida. I enjoy going there to try and do a bit of bird and critter watching. I did not spot any American Alligators or any snakes. It is very hit and miss what will be seen on any particular day. I did not get good pictures of the Osprey on its nest or the vultures so I decided not to include those shots here.
By the way, most of the time, the critters are spotted a long way off so having a long lens or binoculars is a good idea there. Also be sure to look for the birds of prey on the electric poles across the road as that is often where some may be found. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!