Sights of Animal Kingdom – Skywatch Friday

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The tree of life in the center of the park.

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Up close, you can see all of the animals carved into the tree.

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A shot of one of the cool upside down trees. It’s a replica of a hundred year old Baobab Tree from Africa and looks like a tree growing upside-down. The tree rarely has leaves, so it always looks like the top branches are the roots of the tree.

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One of the many waterfalls in the park. (My attempt at fake HDR editing on the shot.)

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A view of the Mount Everest rollercoaster ride from across the park.

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We were walking along with Russel from the movie Up. It was funny to see how many people knew him and were so excited to see him. If you haven’t seen Up yet, it’s worth the rent.

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We were there on the first Friday in March. A little early for spring breaks but the park was packed. Isn’t the country in a “recession”? You wouldn’t think that here.

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Pointing the way out.

My sister and I hit Animal Kingdom in Orlando when she came to visit in early March. We thought we’d get rain but lucked out and it was only cloudy most of the day. The weather was perfect. Not hot and sweaty. The lines were long so we used our fast pass for the safari ride. It was a fun day just hanging out and taking pictures.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Fashion colors at Gatorland

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Great egret sporting his lime green “breeding” colors around his beak. Normally, that would be all white.

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This cattle egret, high up in the trees, has just a hint of pink and orange in his beak. Normally, his beak would be all yellowish orange. That tan mohawk and chest spot is also a “breeding” color.

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This great egret is sporting those sexy spikey breeding feathers that stick out. They don’t have them during non-breeding season. He also has the lime green around the beak.

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This tricolored heron has the all blue “breeding” beak. Normally, there would be more yellow in his beak. That section of white feathers sticking out of the back of his head is also a breeding accessory.

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The lime green and blue around this male anhinga’s eyes are much more intense. These guys really know how to pose!

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This egret posed right next to some flowers. (Yes, I know, they’re probably just weeds but they looked good in the picture.)

It was time for the 2013 bird fashion show put on by Orlando’s Gatorland. Yes, they are known for having big gators but they also have a big bird rookery there. The boardwalk over the lake has bushes full of wild breeding birds. Most of the birds there are in full breeding colors. On my first visit this year, back in mid-March, there were mostly only great egret babies with a few wood stork babies on the far side of the lake. Tricolored herons were just starting to flirt and build nests. There were a few snowy egrets and cattle egrets hanging around but they didn’t seem to be working on nests yet. With the exception of frustration from sticks and twigs getting in the way, it really is a target enriched environment. The trick is to look for the unexpected. Maybe a couple mating, feeding the babies, or any other interactions other than just like above, birds sitting on branches posing. These were just too easy. I do have a few (hundred) baby egret shots coming later.

Tricolored heron babies

Just a few crazy baby tricolored herons from my recent trip to Gatorland in Orlando. The mangrove bushes were full of nests. I think these birds get the prize for being the funniest looking babies. Most of the great egret babies were getting big and the tricolored heron babies were just being born. I think all of these are only a few days old. They were constantly screaming to be fed. Next are the blue herons and cattle egrets. They start a little later in the season. They were just building nests and sitting on eggs. Hopefully, those will be born in time for my trip in May.