Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Greater Yellowlegs

The adult greater yellowlegs has long yellow legs and a long, thin bill which is longer than its head. The body is gray/brown on top and white underneath, including the rump. The neck and breast are streaked with dark brown. In breeding plumage they have quite a bit of black on the back and shoulders. 
The long yellow legs are one of the identifiers. The shape and coat are similar to other birds. This bird does not breed in Florida, but it looks like it has breeding plumage (dark spots on the back and shoulders). This is my best guess for now. 
It breeds in the far north of Canada and Alaska and winters along much of the west and east coasts of the U.S., most of Florida and much of Texas and much of Mexico. 

It was a difficult bird to identify (I hope I've identified it correctly). I saw several of them on Merritt Island. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Black Vulture

I've blogged on the black vulture previously. It is almost entirely black except for silvery/white patches on the underside of the wing tips. The tail is short and square and the wing tips are splayed and have "fingers" in flight. The head and neck have no feathers and the skin is rumpled in a way that makes it look like chain-mail. The iris of the eye is brown, the beak is short and hooked, and the legs are grayish/white. 
Standing in a tree covered with Spanish moss at Orlando Wetlands. 
At Circle B Bar.

Standing on a structure in Orlando Wetlands. The one on the closest end is immature, noted by its more feathery head. 
I had close encounters with black vultures at Orlando Wildlife Park and at Circle B Bar. In Orlando I saw many of them in flight and got some reasonably good pictures. At Circle B Bar they were feeding on dead fish at the edge of a pond. 

Feeding on a fish.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Snowy Egret

The snowy egret is another favorite. So beautiful. I've done two prior posts, here and here
At Orlando Wetlands Park. I love their dark legs with yellow feet. 
At Merritt Island.
I viewed them at both Merritt Island and Orlando Wetlands Park. At the Haulover Canal on Merritt Island, between the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River Lagoon, I saw a flock of them doing fly-overs. I got photos in varying levels of light which are kind of fun.
Here they are in full color. The distinctive trailing yellow and black legs give them away. 
A much darker version.
Something midway.
For such a beautiful bird, they tend to like metal culverts. They make the culverts much more attractive, but they are so much more beautiful in a natural setting. 
The beauty on a metal culvert.
Another metal culvert.
A nicer setting. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tricolored Heron

The tricolored heron is mostly blue/gray with a white line along the neck, rust colored at the top, and a white belly. During breeding season they get blue plumes on the head and neck and buff plumes on the back. It has a long, pointed yellow bill with a black tip that turns partially blue during the breeding season. The legs and feet are yellow, except during breeding season when they turn pink.    
The white neck stripe and belly are visible. 
The white neck stripe with red at the top and white belly. 
This heron's bill has turned mostly blue and it has the buff breeding plumes, but the legs are still yellow, not pink. 
Juveniles have a chestnut neck and spots of chestnut on their wings and upper back. 
This juvenile heron in Orlando Wetlands has the chestnut neck and spotting on the wings. 
It is so brown that it almost looks like a different species. 
I like this photo. The background foliage is quite abstract and the evening sun is giving the bill and face a glow. 
I also like this photo. The clarity of the bird and the abstract shape and color behind. 
Taking flight.
Going after prey.
A snowy egret and tricolored heron at Merritt Island. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

American White Ibis

I've previously seen the American white ibis in the Everglades and at Sanibel Island. On my recent trip to Florida I also saw them at Merritt Island, Circle Bar B Reserve, the Viera Wetlands and Orlando Wetlands. 
I saw juveniles for the first time, with heavy doses of brown and a more pink bill. 

I saw them on contrasting black mud at Merritt Island.
And got a photo that looked so much like a black and white that I made it a black and white. 
In the early dawn light at Viera Wetlands the pink glows. 

At Orlando Wetlands the green fan is a perfect contrast. 
Some nice reflections.

An evening glow at Merritt Island.
One of my bird favorites. Very beautiful and distinctive. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wood Stork

I've posted on wood storks previously, here in the Everglades and here on Sanibel Island, but I can't resist to put up some more pictures, from Merritt Island, Circle Bar B Reserve and Orlando Wetlands. 

Although in many respects these pictures are not as good as others I've taken, I've captured some things I've not seen before. In Orlando Wetlands Park there is an artificial hill called Oyler Overlook that provides a nice view of some trees that I saw filled with large white birds. I wasn't sure what kind of birds they were until I got home and was able to crop my photos: lots and lots of wood storks. 
View of birds in trees from Oyler Overlook.
Cropped view of a different photo shows wood storks, including the nice sheen on black feathers.
Adult wood storks have a bare head and neck that are dark gray. Their plumage is white, except for some wing and tail feathers that are black with a greenish-purplish sheen. At Circle Bar B Reserve I caught an adult in flight with the sun providing the beautiful sheen on an otherwise ugly bird. 
At Circle Bar B this wood stork feeds in a swampy area... 
...then flew, revealing the sheen.

At dusk, on my way out, I saw this stork standing high in a tree. The pink feet really stand out. 
At Merritt Island I got lots of not-so-great photos of a juvenile wood stork (although I did not realize it was a juvenile at the time - it was quite large). The juvenile has a feathered head and neck and the bill is less dark, more yellow.
This juvenile is not nearly as ugly as the older birds: it still has feathers on the head and neck. 

Note that without the sunlight, the black feathers are dark and dull.