At El Santiago Golf Course Pond, The Villages, FL
At Mallory Hill Golf Course Pond, The Villages, FL
Great Blue Herons, that is! Ha! I have spotted a few Great Blue Herons around the community’s ponds in the last few days and have enjoyed photographing these rather majestic wading birds.
The Great Blue Herons eat fish, frogs, turtles, baby alligators, snails, worms, mice, small snakes, lizards, and larger insects. We have had a lot of rain this past week, so the hunting for worms in lawns around the lakes and ponds is particularly easy for the wading birds at the moment. By the way, it is pretty unusual to see a Great Blue Heron on a lawn other than immediately at water’s edge. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Near Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages, FL
At Schwartz Park on Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL
Great Blue Heron
Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, a Limpkin, a few Wood Storks, and a lot of White Ibis, and Snowy Egrets (not pictured), were all spotted here in The Villages, Florida last month, May, 2017.
We often spot the egrets herons and ibis, but the cranes, wood storks, glossy ibis, and limpkin, are only spotted during certain months of the year (Sandhill Cranes being the most easily seen of this particular group of wading birds). We also get to see Tri-colored Herons and Little Blue Herons on occasion.
These larger wading birds enjoy the many small and medium-sized lakes here in our community where the food is usually abundant. We are recovering from a recent drought so the lakes happily are refilling with recent rains.
Most of these big birds eat aquatic snails, frogs, worms, and small fish. Some of the birds such as Sandhill Cranes also eat grains and seeds. I always enjoy getting out and spotting both songbirds and these big beauties! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
White Pelicans, Great Egret
A Pied-billed Grebe
The Sharon Wiechens Nature Preserve in The Villages is a community treasure of a place! I really enjoy visiting this lake-side preserve here. I made a short trip there yesterday afternoon and saw quite a few different birds. I spotted two Southern Bald Eagles; a Pied Billed Grebe; a flying hen Mallard Duck; a Great Egret; a Glossy Ibis; a nesting Moorhen; and a few Boat-tailed Grackles.
I also saw a few Common Coots there at the preserve. Usually I spot something different when we visit each time. There is a fantastic boardwalk deck overlook which loops around into the lake itself over the shallow marsh. I also occasionally go up onto the wooden observation deck structure for a quick look around. I did not see any Sherman’s Fox Squirrels this trip. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A Great Egret
Male Boat-tailed Grackles
A Glossy Ibis
Southern Bald Eagles (From a distance)
A Hen Mallard
Common Moorhen on its Nest
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
Double Crested Cormorants are local resident birds but there also are quite a few flocks of migrating birds here in this area during the Winter months.
Double Crested Cormorants are meat-eating birds. They dive and catch fish, frogs, turtles and baby alligators. They often are spotted with flocks of White Pelicans or among Great and Snowy Egrets. They spread their wings to dry them after coming out of the water.
These birds closely resemble the Anhinga but they are larger bodied and have a broader bill that has a slight downward hook on the end. I took these pictures last week here in The Villages at a pond in the Polo Ridge neighborhood and also at the small lakes at Freedom Pointe. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Egrets are here on our lakes all year around. I enjoy them very much. The Great Egrets are the taller of the egrets here. We basically have Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and the Great Egrets. On rare occasions, we will spot a Reddish Egret but they are quite unusual here.
The Great Egrets wade in shallow water and hunt for fish, turtles, frogs, tadpoles, larger insects, small shore-side snakes and mice. They spear their prey with their strong pointed bill. The Great Egret is white with a yellow bill and black legs and feet. They have yellow eyes. They are exquisite when in their billowy breeding plumage! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Great Egret at right, Snowy Egret at left
Great Egrets are among the larger of the wading birds, while the Snowy Egret is a much smaller wading bird at about half the size of the Great Egret. The Great Egret has a bright yellow bill and black legs while the Snowy Egret has bright yellow feet, greenish-black coloring in the legs and a black bill. Both of these egrets are wading birds that eat fish, frogs, small tender turtles, aquatic snails and large aquatic insects and worms. The Great Egret also will eat shore-side mice, lizards, small snakes and larger insects.
Both of these birds are very beautiful big white birds! The Snowy Egret has stunningly beautiful plumage in breeding season, and is a real treat to see then. I took the picture in The Villages, FL on a local lake a few weeks ago. You really can see the difference in the size of both birds! Here in The Villages, in central Florida, we often have Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and the flocking Cattle Egrets. Only on occasion does one see the much rarer Reddish Egret (which closely resembles a lighter Little Blue Heron). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Egrets, Snowy Egret, Wood Storks