Great Egret – photo by Eliza Ayres
Nature Walks – The Secret Lives of Birds, April 12, 2018
I managed to get out on another bird walk today. It’s been about a year since I first discovered the local wetland preserves. I have found them to be small oases of peace in an overpopulated area (IMHO). And in the process of visiting these sanctuaries, I have learned quite a bit about the secret lives of birds, from nesting, fledging, finding food, and migrating. I’ve always had a curious nature, pushing the boundaries of my knowledge, not for the sake of making money or such, but to increase my understanding of the world around me. So, if I happen to see a new species, when I go home, I get out my Florida bird book or search the Internet for information, to verify what I’ve seen, where I can find these species and their various attributes. In that way, I’ve gradually increased my awareness of bird calls, movements, habits, likely environments, flight patterns and so on. This all takes a willingness to look beyond and embrace the life that surrounds us on this beautiful planet. And a willingness to put down your cell phone for a few minutes. I never use mine — it stays in the purse until absolutely needed.
Boat-tailed Grackle. Photo by Eliza Ayres
In the past, I’ve approached learning about wildflowers and their ecosystems in the same manner — noting what plants grow together, their flowering seasons, fruits if any, and the environments in which you may find similar plants. It’s all about observation. The life that is around us in its many diverse forms is the creation of Source energy, with whatever name you wish to ascribe to it. These lifeforms are a reflection of the endless ability of Nature to create and celebrate loving diversity, something humans can learn from by observing wild things and even their pets.
Fledging Wood Storks. Photo by Eliza Ayres.
Fluffy Cattle Egret in breeding colors. Photo by Eliza Ayres.
Healthy pond apple tree with developing fruit. The fruit matures to the size of a small mango and is eaten by many animals. The small trees provide shelter for many species.
Only alligator sighting from today’s walk. Appears to be a mature female.
All kinds of creatures thrive in the marshes. This is a little marsh rabbit intent on nibbling the grass and other plants.
Glossy Ibis. Photo by Eliza Ayres.
A glimpse at a Tri-colored Heron tucked away in a pond apple tree, well out of the way of humans and predators.
Two Double-Crested Cormorants perched on a pond apple tree.
Tri-colored Heron in full mating display. Just a boy trying to attract a mate. Photo by Eliza Ayres.
Great Egret guarding fledging.
Dozing female Anhinga.
Large green iguana perched on a tree sunning. These are a non-native or introduced species.
Mated Great Blue Heron duo monitoring their nesting site.
Balancing act by a Purple Gallinule. These birds are avid foragers for seeds and fresh sprouts.
Mother duck scurrying along with her ducklings.
That’s enough for today. I did manage to take about 90 photos today, so the assortment above is just a taste. Wakodahatchee is a bonanza for nature photographers, as I have found, packing in a ton of different animal species in a small area. It is also a pleasant place to walk, despite the fact that it draws many tourists, especially during “the season”, which extends from late November to April 30th.
As you can see from these photos, the marshes, even these man-made versions, are filled with life. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to see all these extraordinary creatures living in natural surroundings outside of a zoo. All the birds and probably most of the creatures except the alligators are free to come and go. You can see by the bustling life, that the birds are quite happy to take up residence here and some endangered species, like the Wood Storks, are actually thriving.
May your own forays into Nature be as rewarding as I have found mine. I send my blessings to all.
“Sunny” VaCoupe (aka Eliza Ayres)
© All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photo credits: All taken today in Wakodahatchee Wetlands Preserve, Palm Beach County, Florida