The last time I went to Lake Morton in mid-April, I found a pair of Great Blue Herons building a nest at the top of a cypress tree. Given that most herons start constructing their nests in early winter, I figured these guys had lost their baby and were attempting a re-nest. Or perhaps they were juveniles and this was their first time around. One bird appeared to already be incubating and the other went back and forth with nesting material.
Great Blue Herons are fun to watch when they are building nests. The male will fly off, spend a long time finding the perfect branch, and then bring it back to the nest.
It was a cloudy morning. The sun kept disappearing behind the clouds. There was a small window between the trees and the challenge was to focus while the bird was in it.
After a while, the male was chased out of the prime stick tree by a fussy crow. The crow started attacking him and the heron took off in great indignation. After that, he foraged in the cypress tree immediately next to the nest. It was so close that he didn’t really have to fly – he did more of a hop from treetop to treetop. Some of the poses ended up being pretty funny!
There was one final image that I should have captured to finish telling the story of this heron nest. When I first got there, the street under the trees was clear. When I left, the street was cluttered with the branches that the bird had dropped in his endeavors!
During my last visit to Lake Morton in mid-April, I came across a Limpkin nest. Although I’ve photographed tiny Limpkin babies before, this was the first time I’d encountered a family at the nest. It was nestled in the reeds, without clear line of sight for photography, but I sat and watched it for well over half an hour.
There were six babies at this nest. It was late morning and the babies weren’t particularly active. They napped in the branches next to an apple snail shell from breakfast.
Occasionally the babies would get up, walk around, and then plop back down. Limpkin babies remind me a lot of Sandhill Crane colts (except Limpkins are brown, of course). Especially when the babies stretch their wings…
I finally tore myself away, wishing I could return in a day or two when the parents would take the babies for a walk in the nearby grass. It’ll be fun to watch them grow up this summer!
My Painted Buntings have only been gone for a couple of weeks and I already miss them. The photos in this blog post were taken on April 13. I had at least 4, maybe up to 6, males in the yard that afternoon. All the males departed that week, leaving about half a dozen greenies, who stuck around until the end of April. I had one migrant greenie show up for a night on May 2. Now the backyard seems very quiet.
I put out a couple of branches in strategic locations and sat back to enjoy the last moments with these beautiful birds. A greenie was curious and wondered what I was up to.
This year we had a pair of Gray Catbirds in the backyard. They would sit on opposite sides of the yard, calling to each other. “Meow!” “Meow!” It was fun to watch our gray cat’s head turn back and forth as he listened to the calls of his buddies.
The cardinals never mind posing for me on the perches that I place near the feeders. The male repeatedly came and went from the feeder, making me suspect that he was taking food back to a nest of hungry little babies.
The Painted Buntings were obviously gearing up for a long migration flight. They spent more time than usual at the feeders. I’m glad I only have to wait until October, when they will start returning for the winter.