***Weekly Wildlife Thread: Oct 2nd - 8th***

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
OP zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 35,217
Adult and Baby Gator, Fishing Birds & BIFs, Green Heron nest

And I'll post two this week to help catch up - this time I've got some fishing birds, some nesting birds, and some BIFs, one more baby alligator, and an adult alligator too.

All shots here were taken with the A6600 and FE200-600mm G OSS lens, handheld, at Wakodahatchee Wetlands on March 13th, wrapping up that day. All are posted at 1800 pixels on the long side if you view them in original size:

Tricolored herons have one of the more frantic hunting methods - where most herons and egrets sit over the water dead-still, then strike...the tricoloreds fly out over the water, legs running along the surface, often squawking and making noises all the way, then plunge their heads after the fish that try to flee all the splashing and noise

But it works for them - note he did indeed get a small fish. Tricolored herons also don't like grabbing giant fish several times larger than their head like most other herons - they usually get by eating dozens or smaller fish, constantly flying out every 20-30 seconds for a good 10-20 minutes until they've had their fill

I managed to find one more baby alligator, this one well hidden in the reeds. I heard it croaking for mom, so I was able to track down the sounds

It was a little unusual to run into an eastern phoebe deep in the forest. Usually these birds sit out in the open, on branches or small trees out in the open grasslands...but this one seemed to want to take a break out of the sun

The easiest way to tell a female least bittern from a male is that the females don't have the blacks along their head and back that the males do - they just get a chestnut brown on the upper parts, with the beige and white below. Still a very pretty bird when seen in close detail

A cattle egret heading out over the water, back to its nest with a stick to plug a hole - like most birds, they get more colorful in their breeding coat

Here's an example of a cattle egret in full breeding plumage - the red eye (usually yellow), red legs (usually greyish yellow), purple lores around the eye (normally pale yellow), and rainbow colored bill (usually yellow).

This adult alligator was cruising through the open lake, with a little camouflage (not intentional - they sometimes surface and end up bringing some floating plants along with them)

A male anhinga, looking snazzy his own self...the red eye, green lore, yellow bill, and all that white fuzz around the head are his breeding plumage

The giant wood storks don't bother with any breeding colors - they just build big, heavy nests and then stand there displaying to show potential mates just what a good home they've built for the family-to-be. Once they get a mate and eggs are placed, they constantly have to keep the nest in shape. This one was heading back with a nice branch to touch up his nest.

A green heron mom, sitting on her eggs on her nest. She seemed to be waiting for her mate - green herons will alternate nest sitting duties, so at some point the male will take over and let the female stretch her legs and wings, maybe grab a bite to eat.

Just in time, the male green heron arrived, landing nearby, letting out a few clucks to let her know he's here for his shift

Mom gets up from the nest, and walks away, leaving the eggs exposed for a few seconds - the male craned his neck up to peer over the side of the nest and make sure everything looks in good order

He then walks over to take his place on the nest

That very brief window when the two birds change shifts, just before the male settles back down, is the small chance you have to see the bright blue eggs unguarded...a second or two later, dad plops down and the eggs are out of sight again

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