It’s been a while since I visited a new birding location. So I drove up to Gainesville to visit Sweetwater Wetlands Park. My target birds were the uncommon Le Conte’s Sparrows and Yellow-breasted Chat that have been spotted at the park. Sweetwater reminded me of Circle B or Orlando Wetlands, and I enjoyed a nice long walk as I meandered around the park.
My first bird of the morning was this Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, stalking his breakfast in the morning light. Surrounding him were coots…and more coots…and more coots.
Sparrows are most active in the early morning, so I headed immediately for the Le Conte’s location. A couple of other birds were also watching for these rare birds. We found lots of Savannah Sparrows, but no Le Conte’s. The wind picked up after a while, so I moved on to enjoy the rest of the park.
This Limpkin was showing off his long beak. Usually Limpkins eat apple snails, but this one grabbed what looked like a clam. He pranced around with it for several minutes before setting it down in the shallow water and attacking it with that long beak.
I headed back to the entrance of the park, where the Yellow-breasted Chat has been spotted. A few years ago, a chat frequented the Lust Road entrance and Crazy U at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, but I never got to see him. So I was a little surprised at how easy it was to find the one at Sweetwater. I stood in the general area, watching the Carolina Chickadees, and then spotted a bright flash of yellow. He was a big warbler. He moved very quickly, hopping from bush to bush, defying my focusing skills as I followed him from bush to tree. But I managed a few shots – what a pretty bird!
Then I headed to the pool where a volunteer told me the Buffleheads have been hanging out. While I’ve seen Buffleheads before, these were closer and more cooperative than the others I’ve photographed. Especially the males. Their feathers sparkle in the sun and shine with a beautiful iridescent sheen. What a great way to end the morning!