Evening At The Rookery

Procrastination is the root of all evil. You can quote me.

“Snail Kite!” Sure enough, the cinnamon-colored female was at the end of a fishing pier extracting a morsel from a large Apple Snail. Gini said I should come back and walk along this area in hopes of getting some good photos.

“Look at all those egrets!” Gini pointed to a clump of reeds along the shore which were anchored by a stand of willows and a couple of tall cypress trees. This is a spot which has, for the past few years, hosted a small rookery and is quite accessible from the sidewalk running parallel to the lake frontage.

This two-mile stretch of road along the lake is a main connector to a major thoroughfare on the northern city limits. As such, it is heavily traveled. The low speed limit is helpful for spotting birds along the shore and out into the lake, but it’s best to leave such activity to the passenger for safety’s sake.

The above sightings were almost two months ago. Last week I finally visited the area with the camera. Most of the nests were empty. No chicks were visible. A few young birds were hanging about, mostly to mock me for being so late.

It was about two hours before sunset, but in an hour the sun’s rays would be blocked by buildings on the west side of the road so I only had about an hour of good light left. The gang of youngsters was raucous and began pushing and shoving to claim the best spot to roost for the night. A few adults made an appearance but could not calm the unruly kids.

Next year. Yeah. Next year I’ll get here in time for nesting and eggs and babies. Honest.

 

The ubiquitous Cattle Egret is usually taken for granted. We ignore them in our rush to find something “less common”. In breeding plumage, we realize how handsome they can be.

West Lake Parker Drive

 

A young Tricolored Heron has learned patience from his parents and was eventually rewarded with a small fish. His sister wants to know if you like her hair styling.

West Lake Parker Drive

West Lake Parker Drive

 

For a brief time during breeding, adult Little Blue Herons display darker blue bills, black eyes and black legs.

West Lake Parker Drive

 

Immature Little Blue Herons will remain white for most of their first year and will have mottled blue and white plumage for almost another year before displaying the complete blue of an adult.

West Lake Parker Drive

 

Juvenile Anhingas are also white (mostly) at birth and begin to show light brown within their first few weeks. These are still on the nest but will soon be capable of independent flight. Interestingly, they can swim (if they have to) within several days of hatching.

West Lake Parker Drive

 

The sun was about to drop out of sight and a mass of American Lotus lit up with the final light of the day.

West Lake Parker Drive

 

As you pass that spot which beckons you to grab your camera, do it. Don’t put it off. I don’t want you to miss the joy of this year’s baby egrets, the heron hiding her chick with a wing, the breeding plumage only visible for a few days. Carpe Diem.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Evening At The Rookery

  1. Jeanne

    Lovely photos, Wally. If I thought I could stand the heat, camera and I would travel your way. And I love the hair-dos!

  2. Beautiful with the sun on the Cattle Egret… and love the crazy hairdo on the other guy…hhahahha….

  3. I suppose my favourite is the juvenile Louisiana Heron with it spiky hairdo. I’ve always thought that baby Great Blue Herons and Louisiana Herons look like little rock stars with their uncouth spiky crest feathers. I like all the birds but also enjoy the geometry of those lotus in the warm late day light. I love rookeries when I get the chance to be there.

  4. David Gascoigne

    This post illustrates well the variety of water birds found in Florida, and as you so rightly point out Cattle Egret is a handsome bird. It is a familiar species there now, but during my lifetime it was a rare bird. It is now routinely found in small numbers in southern Ontario each year – until the weather gets cold, that is!

    • Thank you, David. I am very guilty of overlooking some of our “common” birds.
      I can relate to the Cattle Egret’s reaction to cold weather.

  5. I find that I get somewhat excited by the array of different herons that you get on that side of the pond, Wally. The Anhinga is pretty spectacular too!

    Another extremely enjoyable post, and I was delighted to note that Gini plays the same role as Lindsay when we’re driving slowly on ‘difficult’ roads. Lindsay’s my ‘eagle-eyes’ while I’m concentrating on driving safely – in fact I’d already mentioned this aspect in the draft that I’m working on for the Hebridean Adventure blog post.

    Sadly, I’ve become a dyed-in-the-wool procrastinator – I’m just hoping that the recognition of this fact might help me to overcome it!

    With my very best wishes to you both – – – Richard

    • We hope you’re feeling better today, Richard! Sometimes, even with our “co-pilots”, things happen. I’ve even heard of innocent birders having someone back right into them! 🙂
      I was going to surmise that procrastination may be age related, but there is ample proof (in my case) one may be born with the affliction.

      All the best!

  6. Very interesting and informative, Wally! I never see the bright bills on the Tricolored Herons in our local wetlands, yet those at a rookery only about 5 miles away do show this trait at the height of breeding season. Maybe the neighborhood birds are all “unattached.”

    • Thank you, Ken. My understanding is that some of the physical changes during breeding season may only last a very short time. A couple of days in some cases.
      Timing is everything!

  7. Ooooh.
    And ahhh.
    Many, many thanks.
    I thorougly enjoyed your ‘late’ visit.
    And the hair styles the birds are rocking.

    • Thank you, EC! Better late than never, I reckon. The kids did pose well at least.

      Hope your winter is remaining pleasant.

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