Sand Hill Cranes, a Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret and a Little Blue Heron were all spotted yesterday afternoon (10/4/15) at the horse ranch pond I have been taking pictures at over the past two years. I have actually photographed this pair of Sand Hill Cranes many times. I strongly believe that this is the same pair that had the little chick last January. I had photographed the chick several times last Spring. No sign of the juvenile, which is close to being an adult now.
This pond is on a large horse farm in Northwestern Marion County, Florida. As always, I took the pictures from the side of the road. It is a good spot to photograph the doings at the pond as it is far enough away that I do not disturb the birds. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Sand Hill Cranes were spotted en-mass in Gainesville, Florida at the University of Florida’s cattle research lot on Williston Road. There likely were between 50 and 100 Sand Hill Cranes along with a single Whooping Crane where I was there early in February, 2015.
These cranes love the fenced cattle pasture with water tubs and lots of grain and hay to feast on. The cranes fly off to roost in larger trees elsewhere in Gainesville and return to the pasture during the day. I believe these are migratory cranes but there may be some locals in the mix. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
A lone Whooping Crane was spotted resting among a large flock of Sand Hill Cranes at the University of Florida’s cattle pastures on Williston Rd. in Gainesville, Florida on February 7, 2015. This is a wonderful spot for the visiting cranes as there is plenty of food in the hay and grains fed to the cattle herd, and there is enough water for all. Whooping Cranes are pretty seldom seen here in Florida.
The cranes are migratory birds and visiting Gainesville for the Winter. The fenced cattle pastures seem good for the cranes as they are not bothered by people who may be walking around nearby (This pasture is across from residential neighborhoods). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Sandhill Cranes and Ducks
Great Blue Heron
My husband and I went to Paynes Prairie State Preserve, near Gainesville, Florida, and spent about an hour looking for birds on Saturday, January 31, 2015. We were at the Highway 441 Overlook. While there, I spotted many different large birds. The nice thing about this overlook, is that it is free. Sometimes there will be a lot to see, and other times, not so much, but it is a pleasant spot.
One of the birders I met, told me that a good spot to see Sand Hill Cranes in Gainesville, is the cattle yard of the University of Florida on Williston Road. We drove by the cattle yard but it was getting dark and the cranes were leaving for their roosts elsewhere. I plan to go back to that cattle yard during the daytime. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Little Blue Heron
Sunnyhill Restoration Area on the Oklawaha River near Weirsdale, Florida is a gem of a park. It has several thousand acres of river bottom farm land, and a lot of the land has been restored to its natural state. There are huge swaths of natural open fields close to the river. There are mown areas and nature trails for easy flat hiking or horseback riding. There also are several small drainage ditch creeks running through the area. I walked about 1-1/2 miles while there. It was bucolic and oh-so-fun!
I was at Sunnyhill on January 20, 2015 and saw Sand Hill Cranes (a few in the far end of one pasture pictured, and three up close near the front gate which seem to like that area), several Northern Cardinals, a flock of Ibis in flight, and a lovely Yellow-bellied Sap Sucker. I also saw a few Eastern Phoebe birds. I am including several scenic views of the beautiful park here on today’s post. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
A Blue Wing Teal Duck, a pair of Mottled Ducks, several Cattle Egrets, a herd of Cattle, and a pair of Sand Hill Cranes were all spotted at or close to the horse farm or ranch pond in Northwestern Marion County, FL, where I have often spotted wildlife in the past. The Cattle are now grazing in the pasture where the larger pond is located at.
I was surprised about the Cattle and the Teal Duck as both were newly seen there. I took the pictures of the cranes at another much smaller pond on that same ranch but just down the road about an eighth mile. I took the pictures on Jan. 5, 2015 from the side of the road. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger photo. Enjoy!
Sunny Hill Restoration Area
Sand Hill Crane
Spotting Sand Hill Cranes and seeing other wading birds and birds of prey, were highlights of my day trip to the wonderful Sunnyhill Restoration Area in Weirsdale, Florida on January 3, 2015. This park is conservation land along the banks of the Oklawaha River and used to be a huge farm years ago.
This was the third time I had visited the park. I really loved seeing a trio of Sand Hill Cranes in the front yard of the one of the park office spaces. I had seen two cranes in the same yard the last time I visited, which was about a month ago. We also spotted a flock of the cranes down the road about two miles but I could not get any pictures as there was no place nearby to park along the highway. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Sand Hill Cranes
Sunny Hill Restoration & Oklawaha River
Sunny Hill Restoration Area
Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret
Wood Storks are considered as a threatened species, and once were on the endangered species lists. Some of these big, shy, unique-looking wading birds have been here in rural Northwestern Marion County, Florida for at least several weeks. I have been spotting one to three of them at the ranch pond where I often go to look for wildlife. The Wood Storks use that amazing big sturdy bill to hunt for fish, small frogs, tadpoles, smaller turtles, crayfish, and aquatic insects. By the way, juvenile and young adult Wood Storks have light-colored bills and the bill changes to a medium grey-brown color when the Wood Stork is older.
Wood Storks like being around marshy wetland areas, and also rural ranch ponds here in Florida and in several states along the Gulf of Mexico. They live and hunt in both brackish and fresh water areas. They seem to be social birds and roost together in groups. They also will occasionally be around larger wading birds such as the Great Egrets, the Sand Hill Cranes, and the White Ibis. I took these pictures on Dec. 19, 2014 and also on Dec. 23, 2014. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
A pair of Sand Hill Cranes was happily spotted near the front entrance to the Sunny Hill Restoration Area along the shoreline of the Oklawaha River in Weirsdale, FL. The area is a large tract of conservation land and is home to many birds and mammals.
The Sand Hill Cranes were feeding on the lush lawn in front of a small single story departmental office building. These cranes were almost right up next to the highway and also were very close to the driveway entrance into the park. In spite of being close to homes and an office, these are not park pets, but are wild birds.
I think the Sand Hill Cranes enjoy being around water and fresh green grass. They eat grasses and grains mostly. I took these pictures on Monday, December 9, 2014. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!