Rainy Season Birding

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.

Anhinga

Anhinga

Lily pads collected raindrops during the night which now sparkle like jewels in the early morning sunlight.

Droplets On Lily Pads

Droplets On Lily Pads

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!

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Water explodes as a Great Egret pulls his head out of the water after he lunged for a fish.

Great Egret

Great Egret

A White Peacock found a dry spot to land and feed.  This was an abundant species in the park today.

White Peacock

White Peacock

Probing the mud alongside a log, a Limpkin is hoping to find an Apple Snail for breakfast.

Limpkin

Limpkin

Two immature White Ibis feed along a canal bank.  These youngsters will attain the full white plumage of adult birds by their second fall.

White Ibis (immature)

White Ibis (immature)

Bright yellow Seedbox blooms near a marsh.

Seedbox

Seedbox

The cooing of the White-winged Dove echoed throughout the park.  Occasionally, the softer call of Mourning Doves could be heard.

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove

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.

Purple Gallinule (immature)

Purple Gallinule (immature)

An adult Purple Gallinule adds a whole range of color to the day!

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

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.

Purple Gallinules-Conflict

Purple Gallinules-Conflict

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.)

Adult Crow With Young

Adult Crow With Young

This dragonfly may be a “Four-spotted Pennant”.  Any correction would be most appreciated.

Four-spotted Pennant

Four-spotted Pennant

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.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

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40 thoughts on “Rainy Season Birding

  1. The abundance of life from the natural world you post on these pages brings joy to my day. The Great Egret “exploding water” shot is extraordinary.

    • That same joy is what keeps me going back again and again for more! I’m so glad you also get a little of that feeling!

  2. This is a great, action-packed post, Wally! Those gallinules sure do have some vicious fights; you caught that action spot on! The resting stilt chick is precious! The Great Egret shot is awesome too:)

  3. Wally, I enjoy your narrative at least as much as your images. I read your first four paragraphs three times and you nailed it, at least for me. Fun post.

    • Ron, thanks for the positive reinforcement! If we don’t have fun with all this, we need to find a different road to travel!

  4. Wally, I remember the summer storms well and how I’d have to dash if I wanted to make it to my location before a popcorn storm burst over my head.

    I love these images.

    • Thank you, Mia! This year it’s been like I remember as a kid (about a hundred years ago) with storms you can set your watch by!

  5. We feel your pain here in Broward County. Even if we think we have a walk well-planned, the rain starts falling out of a BLUE sky!! It actually happened to us last week. Great photos– love the gallinule action and the peacemaker crow shot..

    • Of course, without all the rain, I’d have no grass to mow, and that would be just awful! 🙂
      It’s nice when we’re able to get out to see such lush growth everywhere, so I’ll try to refrain from complaining!

  6. I laughed at your 25 cents a dozen comment on my osprey post. I also enjoyed all your shots today. Nice.

  7. Fabulous photos!

  8. What a beautiful series of photos this is! I really like that shot of the Gallinules mixing it up!

  9. Another great series of photos! I especially like all the action you caught. I have never seen Gallinules in that kind of turf war so that was especially interesting to me. We have been having a miserable winter – overcast and showers to heavy downpours when it should be cool and sunny and dry! but your post makes me think I should get on the raincoat and just get out there! Thanks for the motivation!!

    • Thanks, Mick! I reckon the wildlife has to eat no matter the weather, so out I go. Have to be careful with the digital cameras, though, as they don’t like to get wet!

  10. I’d never thought that birding was like business, military campaigns or running a household, more like sneaking ourt of the back door when no one is looking, but I get your drift Wally. That is one hell of a shutter speed you employed on the egret Wally! Like you the stilt makes me ache just watching that knee bend (especially at our age). Commiseratons about the thunder – we had it here too last night – but it’s good for dropping in overnight waders. Nice post again.Good luck with the IDs.

    • Thank you, Phil! I would only sneak out the back door for anything once – my spouse would ensure the body could never be found…….

  11. I’ve heard of this park but have not been there yet. Looks like you got some good stuff there. So many great shots! I’ll have to head back there this fall. I think I had heard this is where people feed the purple gallinules and they are pretty tame. Is that correct?

    • Dina, unfortunately, well-meaning folks feed the birds, stray cats, raccoons and alligators here. The Purple Gallinules will literally stand on your feet and demand a hand out! Be advised, it’s quite busy on weekends.

  12. Another set of stunning photos. I love the egret splashing and the white peacock butterfly. Amazing.

    • We sure appreciate your visit and kind remarks. I kept hoping to find other butterflies but the rains started before I could.

  13. What a fantastic set of pics Wally, if I had to pic a fav. and its not easy, I think it would have to be the Egret/water one. and yes you are forgiven for the pun.
    All the best Gordon.

    • Gordon, thank you! I was hoping to get a shot of that Egret catching a fish. Alas, he is apparently as adept at fishing as I am!

  14. Hi Wally!
    Fantastic photos, as usual by you! They are all so very nice and sharp!
    I loved the great egret in all that waterdrops, marvelous! 🙂
    Greetings from Pia in Sweden

  15. Wow, awesome birds! Love all the Purple Gallinules and the White Peacock is beautiful.

  16. This is the first I’ve heard of a White Peacock butterfly. What a beauty! I’m always amazed by the birds you see and the shots you get. Shame on you, disturbing the Anhinga’s sleep! Interesting about the stilt’s legs. The young Purple Gallinule does appear to have a look of surprise, wondering what that crazy human was doing there…

  17. These are great shots – makes me eager to get back to Florida in the fall. I guess my fall migration. 🙂

  18. Great shot of the Limpkin…and the pun was wonderful!

  19. jimbey

    …. I am certainly a member of the minority party when I state that I PREFER hiking during the Florida summertime. Some day, I will surely be struck by lightning. In the meantime, I love the full marshes and swamps; the damp moldy smells of the trail; and the uproar of the local residents. Sharing a moment of whining with a spoonbill as the rain falls on us. The rather more bitter “oh great” croaked by the anhinga grounded by his heavy, wet feathers as yet another squall washes in. And the gallinules? They just laugh! Life is good in the summertime swamp!
    …. Keep up the good work, Wally! You are the voice and the eyes of us swamp critters! 😀

    • I really appreciate your comments and, of course, totally agree with you! A swamp in the rain beats being indoors any day!

  20. love the gallinules and the action shot you caught! the anhinga in mid-gape is cute, too. i LOVE those white peacocks! saw one on a blog just yesterday – from florida. 🙂

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