A Little Blue Heron, a few Common Moorhens, and a little Pied-billed Grebe were spotted at the pond next to the Wal-Mart parking lot on CR 466 around the Buffalo Ridge area in The Villages, Florida last week.
The Little Blue Heron starts out as a white bird and gets darker with age until it is a lovely purplish-blue. The Little Blue Heron also has greenish-yellow legs and feet. It is a beautiful big wading bird. The Little Blue Heron eats fish, frogs, turtles, crayfish, aquatic worms, aquatic snails, and sometimes, shore-based insects and mice. The heron roosts in tall trees, and prefers Cypress Trees when possible. please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. My thoughts and prayers are with those people in Northern California who are affected by flooding, or the precautionary evacuations for the Oroville Dam difficulties.
Little Blue Heron
A Pied-billed Grebe and several Common Moorhens were spotted a few days ago at the lovely Sharon Weichens Preserve in The Villages on Lake Deaton. The Pied-billed Grebe is a small duck-like water bird that dives for fish, frogs, tadpoles, small turtles and larger aquatic insects. The little grebe is shy and pretty wary of people, preferring to dive in the middle of freshwater bodies of water such as ponds and lakes. This grebe has a tan-colored medium-sized bill that has a black wavy stripe along the middle of it.
I enjoy seeing the Common Moorhens here in The Villages. They are similar to Common Coots but instead of having a white fleshy area over their bill, they have a bright red area. The hens are a grayish-brown and the drakes are charcoal grey to black sometimes with a slight purple hue. They are quite similar to Purple Gallinules which are their cousins. These birds eat aquatic plants, and grasses. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
The Pied-billed Grebe
An Observation Deck at the Preserve
Male Common Moorhen
Hen Common Moorhen
Common Moorhen in Flight
Lake Deaton Scenery Viewed from the Preserve
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
Snowy Egrets, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a lone Pied-billed Grebe all enjoyed the bounty at the largest rainfall retention basin here on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. This basin pond is drying up and the big wading birds have come to enjoy feasting on tadpoles, frogs, and larger insects.
The big surprise of the day was seeing the little Pied-billed Grebe along with the wading birds! There were three of the Yellowlegs, a pair of Snowy Egrets and the grebe. Notice too, that another of the yellowlegs was again paddling across the pond. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. I’ll have part 2 of this series with pictures I took last night, on Wednesday’s post here. Wishing all in the U.S. a happy and safe Columbus Day holiday!
Song birds and waterbirds were the visitors here in my yards on a very snowy Sunday! I had a lot of birds come to the bird feeder or immediately under it. I try to offer birdseed and yes, squirrel chow to the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks that come to the yards. I took pictures of Pied-Billed Grebes, Carolina Chickadees, Mourning Doves, a Sparrow (Song or House???), a Northern Cardinal, and a Carolina Wren. The birds were very hungry and cold. It was 19 or 20 degrees out when I snapped these shots from inside my house through the window. It also was quite breezy and it was snowing. I think that the actual wind chill was about 9 degrees when I took the pictures so you can see why the birds were happy to get the food hand-outs! I took these pictures on 12/12/10. The one picture of the Mallard Ducks was taken at a tiny lake that is about a half mile from my home. I actually got out of the car to take the picture. I was on the way home from the grocery store (have all-wheel drive car). Please click on the thumbnail version to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
American Coots are not ducks but are water birds that are members of the Rail family of birds. They do closely resemble diving ducks. They have dark grey to light black bodies with the same shade of black heads and a white chicken-like beak or bill. They also have really enormous feet that are somewhere between a chicken’s and a duck’s in look. Coots have a slightly white slender tip of the tail feathers. This white coloring is really quite slight. The American Coots are Fall and Winter visitors here on the lake. I have been eagerly awaiting their arrival for several weeks now. So far as of yesterday (10-15-10 when I took the pictures), I have just seen the one Coot, who may be a scout bird. If this one Coot is not a scout, it means that the main flock is indeed here but I just have not seen it because it is on the other arm of our lake. The Coots have a slight whistling call and don’t quack. They are pretty shy. They eat lake weeds primarily. They do not come up on the shore very much but prefer to paddle around in shallow areas. I saw a huge number of the Coots out on the partially frozen lake last January. The Coots usually stay around until mid to late March and then are on the way elsewhere, usually up North. I was slightly amused to see that paddling right around the Coot was a single Pied-Billed Grebe (part of that big flock visiting here in recent days). In fact, that Grebe seemed to be fairly aggressive toward the Coot! Please click on the thumbnail version to see the larger picture.
On a very personal and one time only note, today’s post is in memory of my friend and professional mentor from the City of Sacramento, CA, Madeline Craveiro, who passed away on Aug. 29, 2010 at age 87. She was my boss, friend, and inspired my own interest in birds. (I just learned of her passing yesterday). R.I.P. Maddie.
Grebe (left) Coot (right)