Went to Winding Waters: Limpkin, Sandhill, Fat Gator

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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 30,676
Went to Winding Waters: Limpkin, Sandhill, Fat Gator

Continuing right along with my wildlife posts every 3-5 days or so, this time I've got something slightly different.  On Christmas weekend (Dec 22), the weather was cooler and clear, so I decided to start out a little earlier than I normally do on a Saturday, and drive to a different wetland area I've never been to before - Winding Waters.  It's about 50 minutes north of me, in far northern Palm Beach County, and a bit to the west - nowhere near as organized as my local wetlands parks that have boardwalks and restrooms and signs - this is pretty much just an open area around some ponds and lakes where you walk miles of dirt trails out into the pine scrub and see what you find.  The animals up there are also much more skittish with people - so you can't get close.

There was not as much wildlife to spot there, but what was there tended to be a little different from the same birds and reptiles I commonly run into locally - these are animals I've seen before, but not frequently, so it was nice to run into them again.  I spent a few hours walking about 4 miles, then decided to head back down to my home areas, and hit my 'local' wetlands at Green Cay...so the last few photos are at my usual haunts again.

All shots taken with the A6300 and FE100-400mm GM combo - I intended to bring the 1.4x TC up to Winding Waters, but only upon arriving did I realize I forgot to put it in my bag!  So all shots are without the TC.  And all shots are posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals:

First - a limpkin.  We have limpkins down in our local parks too, but usually just one or two...this place had dozens.  Usually you hear limpkins long before you see them, with their loud, haunting call that can be heard nearly a mile off

While watching the limpkin, something large was flying over so I shot it - only after cropping at home did I realize it was a sandhill crane!  I don't get to see these very often - if I'm lucky once a year...so I was happy to catch one in flight, even if very far away

Back to the limpkin...and he appears to have something there in the mud...

Ah yes, a limpkin's primary food - a snail.  Most of our central Everglades and wetlands spots are densely inhabited by limpkins and snail kites, both of whom feed on these snails as their primary food source - and there are millions of snails in those areas

Another of those birds I see somewhat regularly, but generally only when I go to parks farther north and west of my local grounds...the loggerhead shrike.  For such a small, lovely looking bird, they're nasty mean things - impaling other birds on thorns and branches to eat them.  Ouch!

I thought the flyover was going to be my only sandhill encounter of the day, but way off in the distance, I saw the telltale red patch on a mass of grey - and there was the big guy sticking his head up out of the dry reeds and trees

Unfortunately, I was right on the edge of a lake and he was across the way, so no way to get closer - and without the TC, I had to rely on a giant crop to get a little closer to this big, majestic crane

Going the opposite direction in the size game, this tiny wader is a greater yellowlegs...'greater' only when compared to his slightly smaller cousin, the 'lesser' yellowlegs.

Bringing things home to Green Cay Wetlands, I always enjoy watching tricolor herons hunt - unlike the other herons, they're much more active, jumping, flying, and plunging after the fish instead of just waiting for the fish to pass under their bills.  Here goes one out to try to get a fish...

While in flight, they stab their heads into the water, and plunge their legs in, 'running' on the water as they try to nab the fish...

Unsuccessful this time, her returns to the shore

A green heron, in his usual position perched on a reed out over the water

A nice little female blue-winged teal duck, making some ripples

Be Like Mike!  This small alligator in front wants to be just like his huge, grown idol, Old Crooked Jaw.  Well, he doesn't want a broken jaw, but when his idol decides to sunbathe on the shore, well he wants to do that too!  They both look quite happy

A wider view, so you can see just how fat and big Old Crooked Jaw is.  Despite that broken jaw 7 years ago, this old gator has had no problem eating.  A lot!

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as always!

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