Growing up on the pond

The young wood storks have such an intriguing face.

Young cattle egrets and little blue herons starting to use their wings and learn their way around the mangroves.

Great egrets feeding their young go on for a long time. The baby egrets being fed already look like adults. I’m sure the parents are glad when they become empty nesters.

More shots from the bird rookery in north Tampa this summer.

Baby season was in full swing

Baby muscovy ducks are everywhere throughout the summer.

Cattle egrets at the rookery. Some were just starting to flirt and mate and some were already sitting on eggs.

Baby anhingas that were not flying yet. Waiting for a parent to come in with food.

Dad (on the left) flies in and the 3 babies immediately go after him for food.

The bird rookery in north Tampa was very busy in late April. Lots of babies from weeks old to almost grown. Wood storks, great egrets, cattle egrets and anhingas were the most prevelant with a few tricolored herons just starting to nest.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Annual spring fashion show at Gatorland

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Cattle egrets have their flirting makeup on.




The tricolored herons were showing off as well.





The snowy egrets were still in the early flirting stage.



The storks across the lake already had their babies.



This great blue heron was too busy stuffing his face to care about nesting.

I love the way the birds all change colors during the nesting season. Their feathers and faces get brighter. I didn’t make it to Gatorland in Orlando this year until early May. This was my 7th spring to visit the bird rookery there over the alligator lake. The great egrets nest first and most of those babies were already grown. Cattle egrets and snowy egrets were just having their babies.  Tricolored herons were sitting on nests but didn’t have any babies yet. It’s always fun to see the birds all interacting together.  And yes, I took a ton of pictures that morning so there’s more to come.

Candy corn beak birds


Cattle egrets are beautiful birds when they are in their breeding colors.


This couple was hiding deep in the bushes. They were working on a nest. It’s interesting how one has a brighter beak than the other one. I just realized one has pink eyes and one has yellow eyes.


This one was bringing nest material over to his mate. His beak is not very bright.


Some of the cattle egrets were just hanging around.


This cattle egret had to be tired by the afternoon. He spent all morning bringing in sticks from across the pond.


Fluffing up. Maybe making himself look good for the ladies?


This one has  more brown in his feathers but not as much pink in the beak.


A cattle egret during non-breeding season. No tan feathers and the beak is all yellow. His legs don’t have a pink tint to them either.


A shot of part of the boardwalk.

I always say I’m not going to stay at Gatorland too long. Go for a few hours and then head out somewhere else. The back gate opens at 7:30am during the bird breeding months on certain days. I get there at that time and usually don’t leave until after lunch. There’s so much action going on with babies being born, birds flying back and forth or fighting. Until around 10am, the boardwalk is pretty crowded. Everyone is usually pretty nice and we all huddle together to get the best angles. After 10 it usually quiets down and then it’s nice to just stand and take it all in. By noon, the birds are napping and I’m hungry so it’s time to leave. This trip I traveled light. I only took my 70-200mm lens and left my tripod and monopod at home. For most of the nests, you just don’t need a long lens. Only if you are shooting way across the lake and then you’d be shooting into the sun anyway. I took a gazillion pictures so more posts to follow.