Commoner Among Royals

Holidays. Wonderful, family-oriented, food-filled and loving times of the year. Exhausting.

A final mailing of several dozen home-made Christmas cookies and fudge prompted a profound statement from my usually unfazed bride:  “Whew! I’m tired!” I asked her to put that in writing so I could drag it out next year before she began her annual Herculean effort to ensure everyone in North America had a Christmas cookie.

Our nature safaris and birding expeditions proceeded at a significantly reduced pace during this time. Last week we managed to spend a morning riding around with all the windows open to let in cooler-than-normal fresh air. Invigorating! A few stops at local lakes found many common birds which are too often overlooked by “serious” birders and photographers. Thank goodness I’ve never been considered “serious”. 

Along a canal, one of nature’s best hunters, the Great Blue Heron, patiently watches for signs of breakfast.

Lake Parker

 

Subtle shades of purple and blue blend perfectly to give the Little Blue Heron a distinct presence above the wetland.

Lake Parker

 

Normally associated with the coast, a few Caspian Terns have taken up residence around our local area. The large reddish-orange beak, dark head with smudgy forehead (non-breeding plumage) and somewhat dark primaries help identify this largest tern in the world.

Lake Parker

 

It would be hard to imagine Florida without the Osprey. Angler extraordinaire, dazzling master of flight, incredible good looks. (No, not me. I am not a pilot.)

Lake Parker

 

Another species usually found in more coastal areas, the Brown Pelican seems to like our local lakes and wetlands well enough to be a year-round resident.

Lake Parker

 

One of our more colorful citizens is the Purple Gallinule. In the right light, one can detect an amazing variety of hues. Even from a parting shot.

Lake Parker

Lake Parker 

 

The Limpkin is a specialist at locating large apple snails and extracting them from their shells. This one seemed intent on varying her diet and was stalking a grasshopper.

Lake Parker

 

Muddy feet provide a clue where this Tricolored Heron has been scratching up a snack. The brownish bands of feathers match the reeds where this wader likes to hide.

Lake Parker

 

Anhinga. Ancient-looking birds whose nickname of “snake bird” describes this agile swimmer’s habit of moving through the water with just head and neck visible, giving the impression of a snake. It is also known as a “water turkey” because of its overall shape and pattern of its tail feathers. During our short morning outing we counted over 40 of these large, ungainly-looking birds.

At sunrise birds begin leaving the roost to hunt.

Lake Parker

 

Although they perch in trees the approach flight looks uncontrolled.

Lake Parker

Lake Parker

 

It’s breeding season here for the Anhinga and this female is brooding a new batch of snake birds.

Lake Parker

 

As our new year begins, we reflect on the combination of small things in our lives which remind us how blessed we are each day. Not only do we have each other to love, we have what seems a boundless supply of natural treasures just beyond our front door. All of the birds in this post are quite abundant in our local area and, indeed, we take them for granted in our pursuit of something more exotic or “different”. Taking time to really observe our “common” residents and their beauty – I realized it is us who are the commoners in nature. How privileged we felt to be among the truly Royal inhabitants of the planet!

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Commoner Among Royals

  1. noushka31

    Hello Wally!
    Wow, your birds in flight pics are excellent!Congrats!
    I especially appreciate the Gallinule’s jump, but they are all great.
    I have a thing for anhingas too!!
    The bird life in Florida is amazing, I hope the numbers will remain high; here in Europe the bird population is dwindling badly and I see the same in Africa for the animal life in its whole… Sad situation.
    All the best and keep up the good photography 😉

    • Thank you very much, Noushka! I appreciate the kind words.
      In our area of central Florida, a recent bird atlas study over a five year period showed some species declined while others increased from a study done 25 years previously.
      I think habitat loss is our main problem. Unfortunately, that will continue as the world’s population increases.

      Enjoy our wildlife while we still have it!

  2. edro123

    Great photos of these “common” birds, Wally!

  3. A beautiful collection of what you call your more common birds. I especially like the Anhinga. Thanks for your comment on my recent blog post. I opened it up after a particularly difficult night – so perfect timing even if unintended on your part. Thanks for telling me about Gini’s experiences with Macular – very good to hear that she is now much improved and hope it continues. Mine is apparently genetic and since I watched my Dad go blind a few years ago before there was treatment I really don’t have major complaints. Just lots of patience necessary!
    Thanks again!

    • G’day, Mick. Thanks for your very nice comments! I’m trying to not take any of our beautiful nature for granted and I have really slowed down when I’m out and about. It’s a great feeling to take the time to really SEE what’s out there!

      We certainly hope the best for you and will keep you in our thoughts.

  4. Happy New Year Wally and Gini. All of those cookies baked and posted to every corner of North America but none came my way, so I made do with a few dried up biscuits I found at the bottom of the cupboard. Better luck next time.

    Yes, I heard it was cooler of late – even Floridian frost! We have air-con in our cars too but mostly it’s a feature that is never used. I was thinking that I’d ringed few Moorhens and Coots and quite fancied banding a Purple Gallinule, but then I saw those murderous feet.

    ” Serious birders” I know. Far too up their own backsides to think about the common stuff, most of which is disappearing fast. Nero fiddles.

    • Since we dumped all of that tea into Boston Harbor a few hundred years ago, we’ve had to make do with coffee. Gini tasted the stuff 50 years ago and declared: “It needs a cookie.” The rest is history.
      She has vowed to concoct a recipe to celebrate Brexit which will be representative of your Parliament and our own Congress – filled with diverse ingredients, heavy on the fruits and nuts.

      Here’s to a better future for our grandchildren. As we continue to identify the Nero’s of the world, may the kids find a way to dispose of them.

  5. Richard Pegler

    I’m sitting here dreaming of waking up to find this fabulous array of birds on my local patch, Wally. Any one of them (with the possible exception of the Great Blue Heron – which is similar to our Grey Heron, as I’m sure you are aware) would have me drooling – not because of its rarity but because of its wonderful appearance and habits. Come to think of it – I get pretty knocked out by the appearance of a Grey Heron, even though they are very common here. So I fully understand your loving attitude to the more common of your avian companions!

    My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard

    • Thank you very much for the thoughtful remarks, Richard!
      I really do take a lot for granted, but have been trying to slow down and enjoy the moments.

      We trust you and Lindsay are well into the enjoyment portion of a brand New Year!

  6. Common, shmommon.
    The underappreciated birds are OFTEN incredibly beautiful. And a source of joy to those with open eyes, hearts and minds.
    And many thanks for sharing your (to me exotic) wonders.

    • See what I mean? I take these birds for granted because I see them so often. To someone in, say, Australia, they may be somewhat unique!

      Thank you EC for helping all of us to keep our eyes (and hearts and minds) wide open.

      Hope your summer isn’t too severe. All the best.

  7. Excellent gallinule booty shot!

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