Sunday was our first day of cooler temperatures, a welcome relief after many weeks of rain. I met Michael at Orlando Wetlands Park at dawn to see what we could find to photograph. It was so great to be out again!! There wasn’t a lot of action, but it’s always great to be out in nature with a camera in hand. :)
Sunrise was at 7:18. Yep, one of the good things about fall is that the sunrises get to be a little later in the morning. More sleep! But for the non-photographer, being out in the swamp 30 minutes before sunrise on a Sunday morning is still a little…umm…well…weird!
I was excited to see the newly dredged areas in Orlando Wetlands Park that weren’t overgrown with vegetation and afforded nice clear reflections of the sky above. A few trees in the foreground were nice to ground the composition. Except I couldn’t get low enough to separate the tree branches from the trees on the horizon! It drove me nuts, so I switched to using my 500mm lens to photograph the lone birds in the treetops as the sky turned orange behind them. I love having Live View on my camera for moments like these!
After the sunrise, we moved down the trail a bit to the pond where the Snowy Egrets were fishing. As soon as they saw us, they moved farther away! Occasionally one would grace us with a quick fly-by. We were also surprised to see a lone Black Skimmer flying overhead. He was a hatch-year juvenile, and his bark was unmistakable. He’s not a bird I see frequently at Orlando Wetlands Park.
The Belted Kingfishers are back! We saw four or five of them over the course of the morning. I love it when they come hover close by. They usually hover long enough that it’s actually possible to focus on them. Then trying to catch their dive down into the water as they go fishing is a fun challenge. I was pleased by the above image, not just for the kingfisher dive, but also for the out-of-focus eagle in the background. Both eagles have returned to Orlando Wetlands Park for the winter.
Purple Gallinules are fairly easy to find at Orlando Wetlands Park. Michael and I stood stalking this one for quite a while, willing him to come closer (he didn’t). He spent most of his time hidden in the vegetation. At one point he finally came out, and he had a frog! Poor frog. It was not a good day for him.
Thanks to Georgia for pointing out the Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck family! Two adults and eight yellow-and-black striped babies were the best surprise of the day. It’s a little late for ducklings to still be hatching. These guys are still young enough to have their cute yellow stripes. They swam enthusiastically after Mom and Dad, spending most of their time in the dense grasses, but pleasing their photographer audience with a brief swim out in the open. What a great way to end a fun morning!
Find my birding list from today on eBird.