My first 2015 baby bird.

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Birds look so different from a front view. This great blue heron looks like he wants to give me a kiss.

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This is how we usually see them.

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Peak a boo under mom. My first baby of the year. He’s probably a week old here.  He only peaked out for a second.  I have since heard there are two babies.

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Across the trail, an eagle was watching us take pictures of the baby great blue heron.

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Blue winged teal ducks taking a nap.

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Tiny gator smiling.

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Green heron in a green swamp.

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Bittern hiding in the reeds.

A few critters on a recent walk at Circle B Bar Reserve. Nothing new but it was fun seeing the baby heron. My first baby of 2015.

Skywatch Friday

A walk after work in early July.

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Green heron on the shoreline of the lake.

DSC_1467I’m assuming this cardinal can see himself in the window?  He kept banging on it. Maybe he could see food inside.

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Tricolored heron posing for me.

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A very young grackle.

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A red winged blackbird.

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The black neck stilt couple were still there.

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So were the babies. All three were there and just a little bit bigger than the few weeks before I saw them. They were pretty far out in the reeds.

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Baby duck taking a bath.

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Drying off with his siblings close by.

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I saw 4 baby ducks all together without any parent around. They stayed pretty close to each other. They climbed up on the bank and settled in for the night. Hopefully, a parent found them later.

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Cattails in the water.

An after work walk around the lake near the office.

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It’s a hard knock life for this mom.

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I saw this baby egret peeking out through the bushes. He looked young, maybe only a few days old.

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All of a sudden I saw Mom jerking her head back. Then the baby grabbed on to the Mom’s beak.

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Mom sent down the half regurgitated fish to the baby’s beak.

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She hit the right spot.

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It looked like it barely fit in that little beak.

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It took a few seconds but the baby got it down.

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Now the baby was full and settled down for a nap. Mom had some peace and quiet for a little while.

The bad thing about being a great egret Mom is that you have to upchuck fish to feed your baby. Over and over again for months. The good thing is that after those few months, the baby flies off and it gone for good and you get your free time back. They are empty nesters pretty quick. I hope all of you Moms are keeping your fish down today! These were taken on my recent trip to Gatorland. The bird rookery was full of parents.

Baby crane is growing up

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It was weird to see the family casually walking down the trail together. Just like a normal family out for a morning walk.

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After strolling a short distance, they stopped and started looking for bugs.

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Junior was finding bugs on his own but still getting bugs from the parents.

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Strolling across the trail, he looks so grown up.

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They started cruising down the trail again. I had to keep getting up and running farther back so I could fit them in with my zoom lens. All of a sudden, Junior started to run and flap.

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He was practicing his take offs.

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It was funny to watch him do his little burst of practice flying. He did it twice while walking down the trail.

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A few seconds later, it was back to finding bugs.

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And getting bugs from Mom.

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They started strolling down the trail again so I got up and walked around the rest of the park. 

Usually I get to Circle B Bar Reserve and think it’s going to take me all morning to find something specific I’m looking for or not at all. I got lucky on this morning. As soon as I walked out of the parking lot and a little ways down the trail I saw them walking towards me. This sandhill crane family only had one baby. I’m not sure if this is the family that started with two and lost one. I had also heard another couple only had one baby so this could be that family as well. I didn’t see another family with two that day but they could be somewhere else in the park.  It was such a treat to spend a half hour sitting on the trail and watching this family go about their daily lives. Junior got really excited when he started flapping. By now he’s probably flying. It would be a great thing to see him getting that first lift off but my time getting out there is limited to Saturday mornings so I’m sure I’ll miss it. Maybe one day I can see a sandhill crane taking his first flight.

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Baby blue is growing up – Skywatch Friday

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I walked down the trail and see this up ahead. Mom and baby blue staring off into space. At this point, the baby looks just like the parents.

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He’s still got those baby fuzz feathers on his head.

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His beak is as big as the parent’s. He’s begging to be fed.

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Staring down from high up above.

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The baby really wants to be fed. He kept grabbing Mom’s beak. Mom’s thinking “Your dad better hurry home with that fish.”

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Doing a little house cleaning. Baby was copying whatever Mom was doing.

I think the baby was 8-9 weeks old at this point. Several weeks after I took these I saw a video of him flapping his wings pretty hard. By now he’s probably flying off. I’m not sure how long they hang around the nest continuing to be fed. It was great seeing this big baby grow up after no baby last year. Right across the trail from this nest is a barred owl nest so I’ll be heading back to this same spot a whole lot more.

My first great blue heron nest

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In the early morning light, I stopped by the great blue heron nest at Circle B Bar Reserve. The parent was standing up but no sign of babies. They must have still been sleeping.

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I stopped by the nest again later on my way out of the reserve and the parent was flapping his wings over something.

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Then I saw a little head pop up looking over the nest.

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The parent was busy preening while baby looked around.

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The baby looked just like the parent. Only smaller.

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I think it was ready to be feed. It started begging.

This is my first great blue heron baby. The couple sat on the nest last year and did not have babies so I was pretty excited this year that they had success. There were two babies seen at the nest early on but now there is only one left. Not sure what happened to the other one. Did it fall out of the nest? Was it stolen from another bird? The nest area is plagued with hawks, crows, eagles and vultures. Mom chased off an osprey trying to eat his fish a few branches above the nest. My fingers are crossed this one makes it to adulthood. The nest is out in the marsh and high up so these shots are extremely cropped.

And then there was one

Little crane was getting bugs on his own.

“Popcorn grasshoppers!”

Walking around by himself. (The parents were still close by)

Still getting bites from mom.

Got another one on his own.

Lunch for a crane.

The crane family at Circle B Bar Reserve started with two babies. I saw them when they were about a week old.  A little over two weeks later I headed out and found they were down to one baby. The one baby was doing well but he still has a lot of growing up to do. This was the same couple who lost their only baby in early spring and nested again later in the spring. They were walking down Wading Bird Way so I just sat down on the trail and watched them come towards me. Twice I had to get up and move back. They made it to the intersection at Marsh Rabbit Run trail and then turned around and headed back. They were busy picking the grasshoppers off the brush along the trail. This one is the last to grow up at the reserve, until next spring.

Camera Critters

The baby sandhill crane is growing up

I start to head out on the trails and I see three figures walking towards me from far away.

The baby starts flying towards me. I’d like to think he was excited to see me and said “Hey, there’s Dina. I’m going to give her a big hug.” I think he was just testing his wings. He didn’t get very far.

I sat down on the grass and watched them continue towards me. I finally had to get up and move back. I didn’t want them to walk up to me and poke me with that big beak. It was funny to see them cruising along the trail together.  At this point they were close to the intersection of Rabbit Marsh Run and Heron Hideout. Several people were watching them walk the trail.

The baby was watching the parent and trying to imitate it pulling grasshoppers off the brush.

Yea, Mom got a big bug.

He kept  looking for bugs but I didn’t see him find any on his own. He still kept being fed by the parents.

This was an amazing experience. Just to sit there and watch them walking around picking up grasshoppers. The baby kept close to the parents. Several people were sitting next to me and we were all clicking away. They seemed to be putting on a good show. The “Leave It To Beaver Crane Show.”  The baby is about 13 weeks old at this point. There were two babies born but only one survived. It was great watching this little guy grow up.

Looking for baby sandhill cranes – Skywatch Friday

My goal for my recent trip to Circle B was to find the baby sandhill cranes that had eluded us the weekend before. As soon as I walked out on the trail, I saw the family far out in the middle of marsh.

The family was moving quickly towards the tree line away from the trail. Both babies were there but I could only get a few quick pictures of one before they were gone in the tall grass.

Hairy or downy woodpecker?

Palm warblers were everywhere that morning.

Yellowlegs walking by a handful of blue winged teals. I love the purple tint on the teal on the far right.  They were keeping an eye on the shorebird.

Typical Florida great blue heron picture. He was sitting high up in a tree on Alligator Alley. He has this determined look on his face.

Early in the morning the sun was coming through the famous dead trees at the beginning of  Marsh Rabbit Run trail. These trees usually have black bellied whistling ducks, woodpeckers or egrets sitting on them. This morning they were empty.

Just a few shots of a recent trip out to the reserve to look for the sandhill crane babies. This was taken several weeks ago so they are probably pretty big by now. I was glad I caught a few seconds of them before they headed out.

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More of the baby owls

"Oh look, that girl's back. How long is she gonna stand there and stare at us this time?"

“Moooom, I’m hungry.”

"Mom, I see you up there. Come down here and feed me."

"You birds be quiet down there. I'm napping."

"Everyone be quiet, Dad's napping as well."

“Maybe she can’t see us behind all this moss.”
A week later,  I paid another visit to the baby owls. I think they are 3-4 weeks old at this point. Now they are big enough that Mom doesn’t sit in the nest with them as much. She was sitting a couple of branches up from the nest. The babies could see her. It looked like they kept looking up at her. Dad was one tree over and up a little higher. Both parent slept the entire time I was there. Soon they’ll be outgrowing that nest spot and will be sitting on their own branches. I’m going to try and check back again in another week.