This spring we had a drought here in central Florida. The marshes at Circle B Bar Reserve had all dried up except for a tiny few spots. This one marsh still had some water in it so all of the birds were feeding in the same spot. I guess the bugs were plentiful in this spot. I’m not sure how long they stayed there feeding but the morning I was there in late April they were packed in and fighting over space. The crowd was mostly great egrets, snowy egrets and spoonbills but there were a few tricolored herons, little blue herons, great blue herons and green herons. Oh, also glossy ibis, white ibis and wood storks. It’s been years since we’ve seen that many water birds congregate like that so everyone was taking tons of pictures including me.
Due to the drought we’ve had in April and May, the water level was very low at Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa. Before I got to the boardwalk I noticed a lot of pink near the shoreline of the lake where the canoe launch is. There was a handful of spoonbills feeding close to the shoreline. They didn’t seem to mind me, kept right on feeding with barely a glance.
The moorhens were playing “Leapfrog” in the channel. Soon we’ll have “Leapfrog” babies.
A snowy egret photobombed my spoony picture.
The spoonies were trying to eat in peace but the ibis just kept following them. The spoonies in the last picture are very young. They don’t have their adult breeding bright pink feathers in yet.
Here comes more ibis.
Ibis coming in from across the lake.
Spring had sprung when I went to Circle B Bar Reserve in late March. The ducks were getting frisky, the adult spoonbills were sporting their bright pink feathers and the white ibis have their bright red beaks and feet.
Not a pretty morning but still a pretty place. The yellow flowers were just starting to come out.
Tricolored heron in the muck.
Green heron trying to blend in.
Pretty little pied (grebe).
House wren hiding in the bushes.
“Run coot run!”
It’s always fun watching them skim across the water.
Spoonies in the rain.
Only a few were mixed in with egrets and ibis.
Another view from the trail. The bushes were losing their leaves as the yellow flowers were blooming so the contrast was weird.
Even though it was drizzling on and off all morning, I still had a good walk. At least it wasn’t hot. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, hot or cold, animals everywhere or very few around, Circle B Bar Reserve is still a perfect place.
I haven’t seen a lot of spoonbills lately. In late June, I was heading to lunch and saw a few spoonbills hanging out in the ditches along the back road. The next day I brought my camera and stopped by after work. The ones with the pale pink on their body and no color on their faces are juveniles, probably born early this spring. They look so pretty and clean. I stayed for a few minutes and headed home. I didn’t want to freak out the black necked stilts that were close by.
“Stop tickling me.” “Don’t move, I’m picking the bugs off you.”
“Hey, big sis, what is that lady doing?”
“Don’t look, I gotta pee.”
“What is that big silver thing flying up there? That is one big bird.”
“I need a stretch and a yawn.”
” I need to climb over this branch.”
“Who put this branch here?”
“Bye, bye, lady.”
It was a sad sight when I got the spoonbill nest at the Lowry Park Zoo. There were only 3 babies and last weekend there were 4. I knew it was going to be tough with 4 babies growing up on that small nest. One step too far and it’s into the gator exhibit for a little baby bird. At least the remaining three seemed to be doing well. They are growing up so fast. A week after I took these I had a friend who stopped by and the three were still there. It’s still going to be risky as they start flapping their wings and branching out. They still have a long way to go. The babies are so cute though. I’m going to try to get back there at least once more before they fly the coup.
“Everybody wake up. Time for our morning stretch.”
“Look at my face! Isn’t it the cutest?!!”
“Too many mouths to feed. I gotta shake it off.”
“What are doing Junior? Showing off again?”
“Mom, when are we gonna eat?”
“I’m the oldest.” “Stop shaking the nest.” says the ones sleeping.
“How is this going to work?”
Four baby spoonbills at the alligator exhibit at Lowry Park zoo! Two years ago there were three babies in the same spot, although they are a couple of trees back this year. None last year so I guess they are making up for lost time. I had posted about seeing the mating here back in early February. I finally got a chance to get back to the zoo to check on the nest and there were four babies! At this point they were getting big fast. All four looked pretty healthy. These parents are busy. I was only able to spend a little over an hour there and the other parent did not come back with food while I was there. I’m going to try to get back in the next two weeks to see how big they get and if all four make it. There’s not much room on that nest and big alligators are waiting below.
The babies stayed busy stretching and preening but they weren’t all awake at the same time. One would stand up and stretch and lay back down. Then a few minutes later another would stand up. I don’t think this parent is getting much rest. It looks just like a big pile of pink cotton candy up there.