Flocks of Sandhill Cranes, White Pelicans and Wood Storks have recently visited our little neighborhood park lake (Paradise Lake) here in The Villages, FL. Because we have had so little rainfall, the lake has rapidly been shrinking and the fishing seems to be the big draw for the migratory wading and water birds!
It was quite funny for me yesterday to shoot a round of archery here, while a large group of White Pelicans flew right over the lake-side archery range! A most pleasant distraction for sure.
I drive past Swartz Park on my way home from my daily archery practice so I get to notice when there are large gatherings of the wading or water birds on the lake. I took these pictures on December 21, and Dec. 22, 2016. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy! I want to wish all a Merry Christmas! I will continue the second part of this three part series on Monday.
Wood Storks; a Great Blue Heron; Great Egrets; Snowy Egrets; Double-crested Cormorants; Pied-billed Grebes; a Little Blue Heron and a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were all vying for a meal of tasty fish, tadpoles, frogs, small turtles; or larger aquatic insects in the lovely little Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL on Sunday, October 23, 2016.
This is quite an unusual sight to find so many varieties and numbers of wading birds all in one spot. Most of these birds are migrating and are just stopping over to rest in the small welcoming lake.
In these feeding frenzies, I have seen it be common for the herons, egrets, and storks to follow what is happening with the cormorants in the water. By the way, later in the day, I also saw a Tri-colored Heron at Swartz Park.
I took these pictures from Paradise Park and Swartz Park on the small private residential lake. Please click on the thumbnail image to see a slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Wood Storks, Snowy Egret
White Pelicans, a Sandhill Crane, Northern Shoveler Ducks, a Great Egret, Double Crested Cormorants and Lesser Yellowlegs all joined the mob of Seagulls in the fray trying to find a lunch meal at a local golf course water hazard pond. I estimate that there were well over one hundred White Pelicans in two big groups there in the large pond. That Sandhill Crane landed right in front of a home with statues of large wading birds! How fun!
Additionally, I spotted a male Boat-tailed Grackle perched on the roof of our car! I took these pictures on January 17, 2016 at the Belle Glade Golf Course pond in The Villages, Florida. I was there at the pond on a shoreline knoll, observing for about twenty minutes, and had such a great time seeing all the action! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
During the past couple of days we have been seeing a big flock of Cedar Waxwings here in our neighborhood. It is likely that there are several hundred birds in the flock. These birds slightly resemble the Tufted Titmice in that they have a top-knot but they are larger, are a rosy beige with yellow, white and black markings. They Cedar Waxwings also have the appearance of a faint smokey-black eye mask. I really like these cuties!
The Cedar Waxwings like eating berries (such as the Juniper berries seen in some of these photographs) and small nuts. They also eat insects but generally are seed-eaters. They can sometimes become drunk from eating fermenting berries! What a thing! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger photo. Enjoy!
Sand Hill Cranes are both migratory and resident birds here in Florida. I recently saw several Sand Hill Cranes in the fresh water marshy grasslands of the Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville, Florida. These huge light grey birds walk upright while browsing the grasslands for grains, worms, and snails. These handsome birds have a red patch above their bill, and up between their eyes.
Sand Hill Cranes are really neat to see when they are flying. I had a pair fly right overhead when I was at the park. In one photo I took, a pair of Sand Hill Cranes is looking up. That happened right when a hawk flew by. There were several hawks around that day. I took these pictures on December 16, 2013. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
The Red-headed Woodpecker that was pecking or drumming on the rain gutter on my porch roof the other day (4/18/12), was simply getting itself a cool drink of rain water. At first, I thought that one of the newly arrived flock of Red-headed Woodpeckers was trying to drill a hole either in the siding of my home or on the tin metal roof of my porch. It turns out, the bird simply was thirsty. The Red-headed Woodpeckers like eating, and in general, being up high, I think.
It makes sense that the bird would rather perch and drink up on the roof where it could scout out the territory and keep an eye on all the other birds and animals. The alternative would be for the bird to land and walk to the pond and dip or fly and try to quickly dip before any large predator might catch it. I keep hearing the calls of the Red-headed Woodpeckers as well as other kinds of woodpeckers, here in the area of my little farm. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Barn Swallows are seasonal migrants that like to spend the Spring and Summer in our area here in Cumberland County, TN. They spend the Winter down South where it is warm. Smart birds! The swallows make nests out of mud and straw that they build on the walls of structures such as barns and sheds and occasionally, houses. The nests are usually made in groups. Some swallows return to the same nest year after year. A famous colony of swallows is at the historical California Mission, San Juan Capistrano, near San Diego, CA. The swallows often return to that mission about the same date every year like clock-work! Amazing!
Barn Swallows are great fly-catching birds. The Barn Swallow is brown with a bluish head and an area of orange near the throat and upper chest. They are small birds about the same size as a bluebird. I am happy to have spotted the birds here. One was sitting on the electric line and two were on the dirt pile picking up some building material, or maybe just hunting for insects. I took these pictures here on April 10, 2012. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!