Morning Lookabout

I would like to call what I do walking, or hiking or anything that might give the impression I’m engaged in an actual physically demanding endeavor.  That way, I could feel good about not engaging in any other actual physically demanding endeavor.

Alas, what I do if I’m carrying a camera in the outdoors is more akin to a shuffle.  The dictionary defines “shuffle” as:  to walk without lifting the feet or with clumsy steps and a shambling gait.  Yep, that’s me.  Walking without lifting my feet.  Clumsy steps.  Hey, you have your exercise and I have mine!

So, since I can’t call my exercise “walking”, I decided to call it going for a “lookabout”.

Early Monday morning found me at the local lake (Lake Parker, Lakeland, FL) looking about to see what sort of activity I could find.

A Great Blue Heron was perched on a small tree, standing on one leg, preening.  Birds can have up to 25,000 feathers and must preen daily to keep them clean and aligned for optimal appearance and performance.  I was fascinated this large heron could do anything on that small tree branch and on one leg!

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Pied-billed Grebes are like little kids.  If you watch one for awhile, they’re bound to do something cute.  This one had been diving repeatedly for breakfast and decided to take a break and try to dry out a bit.  As he shook furiously the water went everywhere and he looked a bit like a puffer fish.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

The female Boat-tailed Grackle may not be the most glamorous bird in the field guide, but surrounded by the green of a Cypress tree and the blue sky, she doesn’t mind showing off.

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackle

A flash of red and yellow wing patch announces the arrival of a Red-winged Blackbird.  In the winter, huge flocks of these most common blackbirds in the U.S. scour the fields for seeds and insects.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

At this time of year in our area, if you see a brown leaf on the ground that seems to never stop moving, look closer, it may be a Palm Warbler.  These little birds are like vacuum cleaners, sucking up insects on the ground or along a tree branch.  Their tails are constantly pumping up and down and they never seem to hold still for long.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

It’s difficult to imagine a lake in Florida without an Osprey hovering above the surface scanning for a fish to dive on.  I counted six upon first arriving lake side but saw many during the morning, not sure how many actual individuals there were.

Osprey

Osprey

A Gray Squirrel was either trying to hide or just waking up.  His tail curled over his head looked like a modern hair style.

Gray Squirrel

Gray Squirrel

A tall Cypress tree makes a good vantage point for a White Ibis to survey the lake and surrounding area.  He may be looking for his friends or a potential feeding area.  Or, it may just be a good spot to nap in the warm morning sun.

White Ibis

White Ibis

One of our common fall migrants is the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  The yellow sides and bright yellow rump stand out in the shady woods.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Along the lake shore, a Little Blue Heron exhibits his classic hunting style.  He’s a patient stalker and walks carefully in the shallow water, neck outstretched, bill pointed slightly down and always ready to strike at his prey.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Common on most area lakes are American Coots and Common Gallinules.  These rails can be entertaining for hours as they walk on water, chase one another, make lots of loud, interesting sounds and are another part of Florida’s environment I tend to take for granted.

American Coot, Common Gallinule

American Coot, Common Gallinule

Mottled Ducks are not numerous here but we see the occasional pair.  Here, the female comes in for a landing to join her mate near the shoreline.  These ducks are similar in appearance to a female Mallard but are generally a little darker overall and the bills are different.

Mottled Duck

Mottled Duck

Mottled Duck

Mottled Duck

A more common sight, especially on lakes with nearby residential or commercial development, is the Mallard.  The male preens before joining the Mrs. for a glide to brunch.

Mallard

Mallard

Mallard

Mallard

Apple Snails are abundant here and where there are snails, there are Limpkins.  As we have already seen, preening has been the order of the morning and this Limpkin was no exception.

Limpkin

Limpkin

As I was watching him preen, a slight motion near the shoreline to the right of the Limpkin caught my attention.  Further investigation revealed a young Cooper’s Hawk devouring his breakfast at the base of a Cypress Tree.  His meal appeared to be a large rat.  I was lucky and found a spot behind a tree which allowed me to sit propped against the trunk mostly out of the hawk’s line of vision.  I didn’t want to disturb him and would have left quietly if he had become nervous.  He didn’t.  The next 30 minutes were fascinating as I watched his technique in getting at his prey.  I do wish he had picked a spot with better lighting!  But this was a rare moment (for me) and I was just happy to be there.  A magnificent raptor!

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

I hope you enjoyed our morning “lookabout” and aren’t too tired from “walking without lifting your feet”!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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30 thoughts on “Morning Lookabout

  1. Great set of shots! I’m glad I came across your blog and look forward to more of your posts!

  2. I’m pretty sure I saw that Blue Heron at my yoga class . . .but it’s not a move I’ll likely master anytime soon!

  3. Love love love the pictures and adore the term “lookabout”. Yes, I used to get more exercise in pre-digital camera days. But I see more now and I’m happier! The birds are all wonderful, particularly like the Cooper’s Hawk, a new one for me (or at least if I’ve ever seen it I wouldn’t have been able to identify. Now I’m looking forward to finding one.)

    • Hi, Sallie! Thank you so much for your comments. Cooper’s Hawks are usually hanging around the suburbs and often swoop down in back yards to snatch a dove from a feeder. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday!

  4. Fantastic collection of birds on your “lookabout” Wally! That Great Blue Heron is just a gorgeous photo. The pose, the lighting, the colors and the bokeh, perfect! I love the shot of the Mottled Duck just off the water and your time spent with the juvenile Cooper’s Hawk must have been enchanting.

    • Larry, thank you so much for the praise. It helps when the birds cooperate! Yep, I really enjoyed the hawk experience. Hope to repeat it soon and often!
      I hope you have a wonderful Holiday!

  5. Another great set of pictures. The “Ministry for Constant Name Changes” can be a bit frustrating at times!

    I’d like to see the American, European and Australia Gallinues / Moorhens all at the same time, just to see how much difference there is.

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • We should take a lesson from the birds, who could care less what humans-who-are-in-charge-of-everything call them!
      Brilliant idea on a comparison and I’ll start saving now to visit all the continents to record the differences. Oh, wait. My Travel Director just informed me we can’t afford gas to get to the grocery store. Maybe next year……….

  6. Wally your commentary is as entertaining as the birds themselves. I too get into trouble with my better half for my “so called walks” – too much stopping to look at or photgraph birds you see. More than a couple of your latest pictures are just stunning: the grebe a real winner, the closeness of the heron, the scale of the tree with the ibis, the Cooper’s Hawk. It’s really difficult to get close to our accipiters so i realise the work in those last two shots.

    • Phil, you’re way too kind but thank you very much. I think the fact that this was a young hawk and he was in mid-meal when I spotted him caused him to not be as skittish as normal. My usual shot of these fast raptors is a blurry image of tail feathers exiting the frame!

  7. Great image series di show.
    Wish you a good day / merry Christmas.
    Hanne Bente

  8. Gorgeous captures, and I really like the female Mottled Duck coming in for a landing; it’s superior! With a little imagination, she even looks like she’s smiling at you. 😉

  9. TexWisGirl

    wallace, your shots are marvelous! every one of them! enjoyed this very much!

  10. that was like opening a gift of great bird shots!!! Love that first one of th heron, so crisp. We have a Palm Warbler here now. You sure do get a great collection of birds there.

    • Thank you so much, Nora. I just peeked at your Pelicans. That’s quite a gathering! The Heron had bits of feathers floating all over the place in the still morning air. Next time I’ll bring a brush to clean him up a bit. 🙂

  11. Just lovely!!! What gorgeous shots of the Cooper’s Hawk… As of all the other inhabitants. What a lovely walk. 🙂

  12. Some times walking slowly brings the most excitement as far as birds are concerned.

    I hadn’t realized until I saw your images that I miss seeing Cypress, especially how colorful they can be towards the fall/winter. I see “Cedars ” (Junipers) here but never Bald Cypress.

    I enjoyed your lookabout images, thank you for sharing them.

  13. Beyond beautiful captures, Wally.. especially the stunning Cooper’s hawk.

  14. I love your shot of the red-winged blackbird and of course the one in which the Ibis is perched atop the cypress!! my goodness you have eagle eyes for photo ops!! 😉
    We owned a summer house in So, Dartmouth (MA) when the kids were little. It was right on Buzzards Bay on a neck surrounded by protecteted saltmarshes. The red-winged blackbirds were ubiquitous there…so amazing. What a location that house was for naturewalks! My kids used to go out at dusk with flashlights “looking for animals” and to this day still speak of it with such excitement.
    Great memories your post brought me today! Thank you for sharing!

    • What a wonderful parent you are to have instilled that curiosity and sense of awe for nature your children still hold dear! Thank you for your kind comments.

      • Your are SO welcome! Your blog is enjoyable and highly informative.
        I’m a relative newcomer to FL (Dec 17 2009 to be exact) and have many things to learn about the fauna. I got my Master Gardener’s Certification (Indian River County) last March and have a pretty good handle on the local flora but my wildlife info has many many gaps–your blog is beginning to fill them in!
        Have a great Holiday season!

      • We’re happy to have you as a Floridian! If you’ve mastered gardening in Florida, you’re obviously a genius! Hope to see you often and we wish you a very happy Holiday time as well!

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