The rookery is definitely full of activity in its first month. Not all of the species have arrived in full force yet, but many are here. A few even have some chicks already. Some of the early Great Egrets have had chicks hatch. You need a lot of nests to find some photos. Since the rookery is surrounded by water, you are standing on a boardwalk and all your photos must be taken from here. There are probably more than 20 nests that aren’t photographable for every one that is. Fortunately there are a lot of nests, so there are plenty of good opportunities for the finding. I was enamored by how this chick decided to copy its parent and preen at the same time and in the same pose.
If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll remember that I mentioned that the alligators are necessary for the success of the bird rookery. While most of the time, I’m looking up at the birds, from time to time I look down at the alligators. This particularly large American Alligator was doing what alligators do best – sitting and waiting.
There are a lot of rookeries around. In fact there is one about 10 minutes from my home. So why did I drive all the way down to Florida and not just photograph there? Not every rookery is the same. This rookery is a fantastic opportunity to get close to the birds whereas in most places you would disturb the nesting birds by getting so close. Also, rookeries have different species. The one closest to me mostly has Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, and White Ibis. This rookery has eight species. One of the exciting ones it has are the Roseate Spoonbills. This spoonbill is about to launch into a flight to gather some sticks for the nest it is working on.
Roseate Spoonbills are amazing birds. I can never make up my mind which of my impressions is the strongest. On the one hand they have this uniquely beautiful combination of red hues. On the other hand they have one of the strangest looking bills and heads. Their heads become featherless as they age and it reveals their strange skin tones. This time I went in close on the spoonbill to show these contrasting feelings.
Today I wanted to make some use of the numerous flight opportunities at the rookery. You also get some unique angles and perspectives on that birds that you don’t normally have. This Great Egret is busy bringing sticks back to its nest. For shots like this, you need to use a little fill flash to light up the underside of the birds, even on cloudy days like today.
Most of the flight activity at this time revolves around the nest building. The birds are always leaving from and coming to the nest. On the return trip they’ll have a branch or twig in their beak. Late in the season, most of the birds will be flying on trips to get food for the chicks, but not only a few are hatched so far. This Wood Stork was one of the ones busy building its nest.