Proper planning can often be the difference between success and failure. This is true in business, military campaigns, running a household and even bird watching. Advancements in technology allow one to thoroughly examine potential birding hotspots from the comfort of an armchair. Without setting foot outside, it’s now possible to “virtually” drive down a country lane and inspect the surrounding landscape, access data from other birders to see what’s been spotted lately, receive up-to-the-minute weather forecasts for the area and download the latest song recordings of relevant species. Yes, with a bit of attention to detail, a successful avian adventure is almost guaranteed.
Then there’s the way I go about it lately.
“Look! It’s not raining!” Grab the binocs, the camera and a bottle of water and rush out the door. Head to the local park because if we drive any further the thunderstorms will have moved in for the day. So far this month, our local area has had 9.8 inches (24.9 cm) of rain and there’s no indication it will slow down. Mind you, I’m not complaining. It wasn’t too long ago we suffered drought conditions and our underground aquifer needs all the recharging it can stand. It’s just that if you want to go birding (or NEED to, as some of us addicts do), you mustn’t mind getting wet.
In this case, the local park is Lake Parker Park on the north side of Lakeland (Florida). It’s got quite a nice variety of habitat along the lake shore to make it inviting to a good number of birds. Fall migration is still a few weeks away but the year-round residents suit me just fine. The morning was full of songs, color and action. So, bring along your bumbershoot and let’s see what we can find!
I knew it must be early when even the Anhinga was yawning! These poor guys must really have a hard time keeping their feathers dry with all the rain. Anhingas don’t have an oil gland for waterproofing their feathers during preening like other water birds. That’s why we so often see them with their wings spread out.
Lily pads collected raindrops during the night which now sparkle like jewels in the early morning sunlight.
A young Black-necked Stilt rests and then feeds along the shoreline. Note that it’s resting on its upper legs and the forelegs are bent forward away from the bird. Makes my knees hurt!
Water explodes as a Great Egret pulls his head out of the water after he lunged for a fish.
A White Peacock found a dry spot to land and feed. This was an abundant species in the park today.
Probing the mud alongside a log, a Limpkin is hoping to find an Apple Snail for breakfast.
Two immature White Ibis feed along a canal bank. These youngsters will attain the full white plumage of adult birds by their second fall.
Bright yellow Seedbox blooms near a marsh.
The cooing of the White-winged Dove echoed throughout the park. Occasionally, the softer call of Mourning Doves could be heard.
I was laying in the grass (yes, the WET grass) waiting for an alligator to cruise closer to shore for a picture when this young Purple Gallinule almost ran over me. He was so intent on feeding, he didn’t see me until the last second. Unperturbed, he fed around me and continued on his merry way. The ‘gator drifted in the other direction in the meantime.
An adult Purple Gallinule adds a whole range of color to the day!
I came across an apparent turf battle between two rival Purple Gallinule gangs. The dust-up continued for about 20 minutes but I was only able to get a couple of out-of-focus shots. I apologize for posting such poor quality photos, but wanted to show some of the action. Those big feet are used for something other than walking on lily pads! There were at least 12 birds of varying ages involved in the rumble. I didn’t spot any injuries.
An adult crow and her offspring shout a message of peace to the Gallinule Gang. I guess they felt they had a righteous “caws”. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
This dragonfly may be a “Four-spotted Pennant”. Any correction would be most appreciated.
A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers hopped around and around the large limbs of an oak tree. I could only get a shot of the female.
Thunder boomed. Lightning flashed. The wind turned cool coming off of the lake. Time to go.
Next time, I’ll plan more thoroughly. No, seriously.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.
See more birds at: Paying Ready Attention (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)