Pine Forest Creatures, Egret Courting Display (4/16/19)

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zackiedawg
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Pine Forest Creatures, Egret Courting Display (4/16/19)
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A mix of stuff to share in this thread, as I try to get through a busy February 23rd of shooting and stay not too far behind...I need to keep the bird and wildlife posts coming at least twice a week if I'm going to get caught up.

Last post I had mostly BIFs and rookery shots wrapping up February 16th.  This time, I'm starting off the following weekend with some shots in the pine scrub forest and cypress forest areas, with some of the smaller forest birds and reptiles, then moving out to the wetlands for the last few shots, including another sequence of a great egret showing their elaborate courting display.

I will also go through a range of birds from one of the most common (pigeon) to one of the rarer sightings in our wetlands that I was lucky enough to spot for only the 3rd time in a decade.

All taken with the A6300 and FE100-400mm GM combo, and all shots posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals:

Scurrying along on the ground near some fallen seeds, this brown thrasher was chasing off other smaller birds trying to get a bite to eat.  He was aggressively chasing ovenbirds and buntings whenever they landed, claiming this spot of land for himself

A palm warbler - one of the few warblers that sticks around the Florida wetlands over the summer, starting to develop his rusty cap showing he's entering his breeding season

A yellow-bellied sapsucker hanging out on the side of a cypress trunk - she drills dozens of holes up and down the tree, then hangs back for a few minutes while they begin to ooze sap...then goes back to the first hole and works her way up, drinking the sap from all the holes

The sapsucker, doing what its name says - you can see other oozing holes on the tree trunk, which this sapsucker will be visiting next to gather up the liquid meal

A cute marsh rabbit, eating some grasses

In the dark shadows, a juvenile male painted bunting, still looking green like the females, but just beginning to get hints of that blueish tint to the head.  This one was waiting on a palm branch for the adult to come back with some food

Hanging on the side of a palm tree trunk is the large knight anole, an invading species from the islands.  They're one of the lizard species between the tiny brown and green anoles and the big iguanas...they can grow to about a foot long

This grackle seemed to want to pose for a photo, jumping up on a branch in front of me, and showing what he must think is his good side

Not the greatest of shots, but believe it or not, my best shot yet!  This is the very rare and elusive (down here at least) Virginia rail.  In 10+ years of photographing in these wetlands, I've gotten to photograph them twice before - both only identification shots of the head between some reeds.  This was the most exposed shot of one yet

Another shot of a yellow-bellied sapsucker working a cypress tree

Strangely - as unbelievably common as they are, I think of pigeons as city birds...I rarely encounter them in wild, natural environments.  So when I saw a pair standing around in the grasses on a levee in the wetlands, I decided they deserved their portraits to be taken too!

They're formally named 'rock pigeons' - but we just call them pigeons.  Their colors can vary from the lighter grey like the previous bird, or this bird's darker grey colors...and all have that nice little iridescence on the neck.

In my last post, I had a few shots of great egrets showing their back plumage like peacocks to attract a mate.  Along with the green coloration on the face, this is part of their elaborate attempts to find a breeding partner.  It also comes along with a bit of a dance.  First, the display fans out...

Then, the head goes straight up, the legs extend fully, and they start a groaning call, which ends by jerking the head and neck down and squatting at the knees with a 'cluck' noise

The head drops down after the cluck, and they'll sometimes turn a bit from left to right to show their display in different directions...sometimes with more light groaning and rattling noises.  those long feathers are called aigrettes, and were once nearly their downfall as these birds were hunted nearly extinct - ladies of the day wore these feathers in their elaborate hats

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as always!

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Justin
galleries: www.pbase.com/zackiedawg

 zackiedawg's gear list:zackiedawg's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Voigtlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton +22 more
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