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.
A little sunshine breaks through the fog to highlight the rich colors on the back of a Tricolored Heron.
Spider webs from the previous night festooned every branch, weed, grass top and man-made structure in the park.
A lily-like flower blooms within the dark recesses of a bog.
This Little Blue Heron was chasing a frog which made his escape and the heron moved on.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Several woodpecker species inhabit the park but this is the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I’ve observed here. This female has secured a snack!
Mr. and Mrs. Teal cruise for a breakfast spot and find an acceptable location. Bottoms up!
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.
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.
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.
A Snowy Egret preens while standing on one leg among green lily pads.
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.
The dock by the boat launch area is a popular resting spot for gulls and terns.
There may have been a woodpecker at work on this tree trunk!
Eastern Phoebes are abundant in our area and this one gave me a curious glance before getting back to hawking insects from his perch.
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:
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!