Today Herman took Dyeyo and me for one last boat ride in the Polk Rookery. The nesting season has all but ended. Most of the birds have left, leaving the islands very empty looking. A few adults and fledglings were still perched at the top of the Brazilian Pepper, allowing for easier subject isolation. It was supposed to be a very cloudy morning, but the sun surprised us with a few hours of good light. All in all, it was a very pleasant morning. :)
These two guys cracked me up. The juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant was begging for food, fussing like crazy. He flapped his wings and threw his head around, and the longer the other bird ignored him, the fussier he got. I guess he didn’t care that the other bird was an Anhinga! The juvenile Anhinga flew away disgruntled, leaving the cormorant with an empty stomach. I guess the cormorant was hungry enough—or lazy enough—to take food from anybody. I wonder if Mom was nearby thinking, “Go get your own food, silly boy!”
The Black-Crowned Night Herons put on a good show for Dyeyo, who did take a few pictures of them today. (The joke is that Dyeyo won’t take any more BCNH shots because he has so many good ones at home!) This one got my attention because of his position on the branch, the darker background that offsets his light patches, and his pretty pale green lore. I love their bright red eyes!
The White Ibis are almost all gone from the rookery. Just a few family groups of fledglings remained, plus a couple of really late nests under incubation. I have to get used to their sound each time I go back to the rookery. I’m used to seeing fully grown ibis, who don’t really say much. I guess they talk themselves out when they are teenagers!
I know a lot of people who won’t photograph grackles because they are common and sometimes a nuisance bird. But this little fledgling here was so cute that I couldn’t resist. Besides, the distant trees offered a great soft background. Look at the pin feathers around his eyes – he’s a recent fledgling. I think the juvenile grackles look so silly, with their patches of dark blotchy feathers. This guy was hungry and fussing at his mom, who brought him a nice bug while we watched.
It seems appropriate, in a circularly twisted way, to post a picture of the only Great Blue Heron fledgling today, on our last visit. Typically the Great Blue Herons are the first to nest at the rookery, arriving in December. The rest of the birds don’t show up till February-March-ish. The first time we went to the rookery with Herman, we watched a pair of Great Blues trying to nest, but their efforts failed. Just a few weeks ago, Herman noticed another GBH nest with a baby in it. That nest was pretty late! The baby hunkered down any time the boat approached the nest, so it was hard to photograph. But today we finally got a decent opportunity to photograph the fledgling.
It’s been an awesome rookery season, and thanks again to Herman for the opportunity!
…and now time to go look for some of those early migrant warblers that are starting to pop up on Birdbrains!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Polk Rookery?
Check out my Polk Rookery page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!