Alligators and Anhingas are sometimes spotted here in The Villages, FL in or along the shoreline of various smaller ponds and lakes. The ‘Gators are mostly located in places where they are not a threat to people under normal circumstances. It is best to stay far away from Alligators and be especially careful when walking near ponds, lakes or springs during early morning and late afternoon hours.
Anhingas are lovely medium-sized water birds that have pointed long bills, a snake-like neck and an oval body. They have piano-key like markings on their wings when their wings are spread open. Anhingas often are seen with just their neck and head above the water fishing, or are perched on a branch or inlet pipe drying their spread-out wings. Anhingas cannot fly if their wings are wet. Anhingas eat fish, frogs and crayfish mostly.
The easiest way to tell the difference between an Anhinga and a Cormorant is that the Anhinga has the straight sharp bill, while the Cormorant’s bill has a slight hook at the end and is thicker. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Northern Shoveler Ducks
Northern Shoveler Ducks; Hooded Merganser Ducks; and Lesser Scaup Ducks are here in The Villages, FL on various small lakes and ponds. It is so much fun to see our Winter visitors!
The Scaups and Northern Shovelers mostly eat aquatic vegetation, seeds and grains as they are dabbling or tipping ducks. These ducks tip their head down into the water to feed on aquatic plants. The Hooded Mergansers dive under the water to catch fish frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, aquatic worms, and tender small frogs. The Hooded Mergansers mostly paddle or float on the water when not hunting, while some of the other ducks rest on the immediate shoreline during some part of the day.
Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Hooded Merganser Ducks
Lesser Scaup Ducks, (drakes in black & white)
Lesser Scaups, Hooded Mergansers and a Double-crested Cormorant
This time of year is when the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers just go crazy over the Oak flowers and any insects hanging with the pollen in the clusters. I recall seeing a similar action by the woodpeckers, in the Fall when the ripening acorns had caterpillars inside many of them. Woodpeckers prefer Oak Trees it seems. Here I have seen five different types of woodpeckers but have not seen a Pileated Woodpecker here on the little farm. That one was spotted down the street.
The Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat insects in the bark and leaves and also like seeds and nuts. The Red-bellied Woodpecker has a barred black and white back, white head with a small red patch, and a white belly with a pinkish-tinge to it. It has a stout long sharp bill with which it pecks or drums. These are lovely medium-sized birds! I am always happy to see them. I took these pictures at twilight on a cloudy evening at about 7:00pm when sunlight streamed through clouds to light the trees a bit. I took these pictures on April 19, 2012 in my yard. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Wood Ducks have been here on the little pond every few days recently. The flock numbers about five at the pond. Maybe there are others on nearby ponds or at the little private community lake across the street and down the hill. Wood Ducks are nesting about now. The pairs nest with the female laying her eggs up in a tree some ten or more feet off the ground. The newly hatched ducklings will drop to the ground safely and waddle off to the water with mom and dad. It is amazing! We may have some Wood Ducks nesting nearby but I am not sure where. We will see.
The drake is the brightly colored one and the hen is more of a chocolate brown with the distinctive white almond-shaped ring around her eyes. These small ducks are year-around residents here in Cumberland County, Tennessee. They sure are speedy fliers, too. I took these pictures in my yard on April 7, 2012 and again on April 10, 2010. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!