Snowy Egret Ballet

Silently watching a rookery island at sunset, I observed flocks of ibis, flocks of pelicans and flocks of snowy egret gently glide along the water to land on the island and take refuge for the night. One bird in flight is a graceful wonder to watch, but a flock of one species in flight together is a veritable ballet.

#snowyegret. #sunset, #rookerybay, #rookeryisland, #flock, #fllight, #wildlife, #birdphotography, #nikon, #birds, #florida, #southwestflorida, #behavior, #naples
Incoming! A flock of snowy egrets: notice their black legs and yellow feet.

Seconds later, the flock extended their wings and feet to land on the rookery island. Zoom in to get a closer look!

If you look carefully, you can find several pelicans and cormorants already nestled in the tree branches.

Moose Maneuvers

Even more exciting than spotting my first moose was watching a spontaneous show of behavior between two male moose in the presence of a female and calf. Joining a Brushback Wildlife Tour in Grand Teton National Park one evening at dusk was definitely worth the investment.

What are these two moose looking at, you might ask? All eyes are on a mother and calf grazing on the nearby hillside. The young buck just wanted to get close enough to say hello, but the senior moose (notice the superior headgear), would block his path. Young buck takes a few steps to the left, Big Moose takes a few steps to the left. A few steps to the right are also blocked.

#moose, #behavior, #male, #grandtetonnationalpark, #sony, #sony100-400mm, #wildlife, #brushback, #nationalparks, #wyoming, #nature
A younger male moose tries to approach a mother and calf, but the dominant male moose blocks his path. No way, Jose. It’s not happening! Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

#moose, #wildlife, #wyoming, #male, #rack, #dominant, #behavior, #noway, #grandtetonnationalpark, #nationalpark, #nature, #sony
As the younger male inches forward, casually munching on some grass, the dominant male keeps an eye on both the intruder and the mother and calf.

Light was low, and I had to increase my ISO to 3200 and use a tripod on the Sony aIIr7 with the Sony 100-400mm lens in order to capture these images.

Proud Great Blue Heron

Wouldn’t you like to start every day feeling this confident — with your face to the sun and your head held high? I will keep this image in my mind.

#heron, #greatblueheron, #breedingplummage, #plummage, #sunset, #sanibel, #dingdarling#tamron, #nikon, #reallyrightstuff, #proud, #lookatme
Great Blue Heron holds his head high while crossing the sandbar on Sanibel Island, Florida.

More Dance Moves (Reddish Egret)

Bird photography gets really fun when you are trying to capture unique behavior. This Reddish Egret I observed on Sanibel Island, Florida had some cool moves. I was amused by the head tilt that began his feeding dance. In this image, it looks like he is given the duck some attitude.

#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #feeding, #fishing, #dance, #headtilt, #nikon, #tamron, #sanibel, #dingdarling
The Reddish Egret begins his feeding dance with an amusing head tilt. You can see the transmitter attached to his back.

#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #dance, #feeding, #fishing, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #wing, #tamron, #nikon, #birdphotography, #bird
Using one outstretched wing to shade his prey, the Reddish Egret takes a better look at his dinner.

 

Woodpecker Love

There are many reasons to love the Pileated Woodpecker.  First, you notice its brilliant red crown feathers and the red, black and white plumage, which would be a striking way to dress yourself today. Second, you can observe its impressive ability to steady itself vertically way up high in an old tree or utility pole. Then, you may marvel at its ability to hunt for food or carve out a nest by tapping its beak into the wood like a hammer 10 to 20 times per second. How can its head withstand all that impact?

#woodpecker, #birds, #tamron, #nikon, #nature, #pileatedwoodpecker, #naples
Female pileated woodpecker in Naples, Florida, high in a tree, pecking for food in the early morning.

Lastly, you may like the woodpecker for these traits you would admire in a human: it is non-migratory, inhabiting the same territory for its lifetime. It chooses and is loyal to a single mate. It benefits many other bird and mammal species in its environment, as song birds, owls and even raccoons later inhabit the old tree holes that the woodpecker has carved out for its nests.

And here is a mixed blessing. That pileated woodpecker in your backyard may be giving you some free advice: that dead tree needs to come down.

Wake Up Call

After breakfast, at low tide and warmed by the sun, these white pelicans decided conditions were perfect for a morning nap. Until one male pelican arrived and cried out to all of them, “Wake Up!”

#whitepelicans, #pelican, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #morningnap, #wakeup, #wakeupcall, #nikon, #tamron, #RRS, #nature, #behavior
From my perspective, this one male pelican seems to say, “Wake up, you guys!” I’m not sure the relaxed birds are convinced, as they only open their eyes.

The J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island, Florida is a wonderful place to observe the White Pelicans, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills in the winter months.

Aggressive behavior on the golf course

I was lucky to have my camera focused on this Tricolor Heron when the Great White Egret landed alongside and began to intimidate him. The egret scared the daylights out of the heron, and the heron’s crown feathers stood up on end! I captured a series of photos of the interaction, but the heron appeared a tiny bit blurred in some of the photos, because he was running from fear. I’m not sure if the egret wanted the heron’s fishing spot, but I have seen these egrets get aggressive with each other. Drama in the life of a wading bird! And so early in the morning!  It was fun to witness and capture these  images.

#egret, #heron, #aggression, #birds, #drama, #feathers, #getout, #birdphotography, #nature, #wildlife
“Yikes! I’m out of here!,” the Tricolor Heron seems to cry, as his crown feathers stood up straight.