A Walk In The Park

The local park is less than ten minutes from the house and is a very popular place for picnics, soccer, baseball, football, basketball, tennis, fishing, jogging and dog walking.  Across the street from the park is a large stadium which professional baseball teams use for spring training camp.  This past weekend, the stadium hosted “Pig Fest”, a national Barbeque competition.  It’s estimated over 30,000 visitors enjoyed the cooking and entertainment.

Early Sunday morning, the park and adjacent lake were blanketed in dense fog and I had the place to myself for a little while.  I didn’t get too many decent photographs until the fog burned off after about an hour, but it was wonderful sitting in the wet grass (I know, I’m strange that way), enjoying the stillness and then gradually hearing everyone wake up.  The coots gabbled out of sight somewhere in the fog and the gallinules soon joined in.  A Limpkin materialized almost right in front of me, unperturbed in his search for snails.  I could hear wings flapping overhead but couldn’t yet make out any forms.  As the fog gradually dissipated, the ghostly images of trees and birds took shape.  The mist hugged the surface of the lake for awhile longer but bright blue sky and the warm morning sun signaled the beginning of another glorious day.

I’m always amazed at the variety of birds we have so nearby!  We are truly blessed.

Hope you enjoy our walk beside the lake.

 

An Anhinga decorates a Bald Cypress tree as he waits for the morning sun to dry out his wings.

Anhinga

Anhinga

 

A little sunshine breaks through the fog to highlight the rich colors on the back of a Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

 

Spider webs from the previous night festooned every branch, weed, grass top and man-made structure in the park.

Spider Web

Spider Web

 

A lily-like flower blooms within the dark recesses of a bog.

Lily

Lily

 

This Little Blue Heron was chasing a frog which made his escape and the heron moved on.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 

Birds apparently have good radar as they were quite active before the fog lifted.  This Ring-billed Gull was on the hunt for small fish near the lake surface.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

 

I almost missed the Green Heron.  As I waited for a photo op, he sat perfectly still for 15 minutes, facing away from me the entire time.  He finally turned his head for a profile shot and I left him in peace.

Green Heron

Green Heron

 

 

A reflex shot captured part of this Osprey as he suddenly appeared over the edge of a tree line.  I tried to zoom out to get all of him in the frame, but he reversed course and disappeared back over the trees before I could adjust.  I don’t know who was more surprised, him or me!

Osprey

Osprey

 

The usual view I have of Blue-winged Teal is as they are flying about 100 miles per hour at a great distance from my camera.  This fellow seemed to be looking for a hand out!

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

 

White Ibises always seem to have an appointment for which they are late.  They have a purposeful stride and I am impressed at how quickly they can probe the mud with that curved beak without seeming to miss a step.

White Ibis

White Ibis

 

Several woodpecker species inhabit the park but this is the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I’ve observed here.  This female has secured a snack!

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

 

Mr. and Mrs. Teal cruise for a breakfast spot and find an acceptable location.  Bottoms up!

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

 

 

The wonderful colors of the Blue Jay brighten the woods and this one seems to enjoy playing with his food as he tosses an insect in the air before swallowing it.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

 

The park is loaded with Gray Squirrels.  Don’t leave food unattended or these effective bandits will relieve you of your lunch!  But they are darned cute.

Gray Squirrel

Gray Squirrel

 

To get a drink, the Boat-tailed Grackle gets a bit of water in his beak and tilts his head straight up so gravity can help the water travel down his throat.

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackle

 

A Snowy Egret preens while standing on one leg among green lily pads.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

 

Limpkins are numerous in the park due to the healthy population of their main food source, Apple Snails.  These large birds also supplement their snail diet with small reptiles, fish, insects and seeds.

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

The dock by the boat launch area is a popular resting spot for gulls and terns.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Royal Tern

Royal Tern

 

 

There may have been a woodpecker at work on this tree trunk!

Woodpecker Holes

Woodpecker Holes

 

Eastern Phoebes are abundant in our area and this one gave me a curious glance before getting back to hawking insects from his perch.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

 

With the sun at full force and the impossibly blue sky overhead, the park started to fill with visitors.  I seemed to be the only one interested in enjoying all the bird activity.  It was a really nice couple of hours and I need to tell you about a unique wildlife encounter – but not today.  I’ll only say that it involved this species:

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 

 

See you soon to tell the rest of the story!

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “A Walk In The Park

  1. I love the little blue, too. Poor little guy looks disconsolate (hasn’t developed that “freeze them in place” glare yet).

    • The Little Blue Heron is so beautiful with their subtle coloration. I love watching them as they are so very patient when hunting.

  2. All of us in Florida are lucky but you two may be the luckiest! That’s a wonderful park to be so close by. Lovely post.

    • We take a lot for granted here in the Sunshine State! I have to force myself to slow down at times and remember to check out our local resources.

  3. So many wonderful photos and beautiful birds! I really enjoyed the foggy photos and the wide eyed Osprey!

  4. First of all Wally i must tell you that Kentish Plover is small, abouy three inches smaller than our common Ringed Plover- perceptive of you to notice this. I must say your (and my) trip to the park was fabulous, nice understated commentary and some fabulous shots – the grackle, the tern and the Osprey who definitely looked very surrprised. Who says birds don’t show emotions?

    • Phil, thank you so much for your kind words and for joining me on my walk! I felt like my eyes were as wide as that Osprey’s!

  5. Wally, thanks for sharing these, I felt like I was back in Florida for awhile.

  6. Beautiful photography!

  7. That osprey shot is wonderful! And I have to like the gulls.

    Stewart M – Melbourne

    PS: looks like a good link for WBW!

    • Thank you, Stewart! I regret clipping the Osprey’s wings, I’m just not quick enough! I have another plan for WBW which involves the same trip and my old friend the Great Blue Heron.

  8. Wow! Wonderful photos. I’m having a hard time choosing my favorite, probably the Osprey, but I love how the Phoebe has its head turned to the side 🙂

  9. I really like those fog shots. Especially the ring billed gull shot.

  10. jimbey

    … A lot of us nature nuts forget how nice it can be in a “civilized” park. One of my favorite birder locations is a major metro-park in downtown Lake Worth, FL. Just because they cut the grass and pave the walkways there, don’t assume that only snow birds will show up to enjoy the space. Thanks for taking us along to *your* park.

  11. Such wonderful shots… LOVE that osprey, and the worm-popping jay! 🙂

  12. TexWisGirl

    always love your photos! 2nd sapsucker i’ve seen posted today. 🙂 LOVE the little blue – would love to see one someday… the duck butts always make me smile.

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