A Wonderland of White

Here in Hotlanta, the weather has been unusually wintry – way too cold for us warm weather wimps. We even had some snow flurries dancing about in the air yesterday. Now, I am not a fan of below freezing temperatures (although for some odd reasons, I do like going out with my camera in the cold!) but it did make me thankful for the wonderland of white that I got to experience on our recent excursion to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Here’s a sample. 🙂

Now, here’s to an early spring!

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A Backyard Bird Intermission

For the past several posts I’ve been sharing recaps from our recent trip to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Well, I still have some photos I want to share, but I thought we’d take a bit of a backyard bird intermission since I had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker show up yesterday and I wanted to share him with you.

Amidst the drips and drizzle, this handsome fellow dropped in (you can tell it’s a male by the red chin) and momentarily landed on a Dogwood tree by the deck. I rarely get a chance to take a picture of one of these guys, so I was glad to have the camera handy.

Aren’t his markings cool? You can see how he could easily blend in with the bark.

His visit was a sweet surprise.

Now, stay tuned for more wildlife refuge recaps. 🙂

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One Gorgeous Gallinule

During our visit to the Orlando Wetlands, Rick (aka sexy camera caddie!) and I went down a trail that was a peninsula between two marshes. As we approached the end, a blur of purple and green caught my eye before it disappeared into the reeds. Rather than continuing on our way, we opted to camp out for a bit and wait to see if this bird of many colors would bless us with its appearance.

Sure enough, in a matter of minutes, this Purple Gallinule (we had to consult a guide to get the name) shyly peeked out.

After a few more moments, he got a wee bit braver and let us get a better glimpse.

Finally, he crept all the way out. And before I forget to mention it, although this guy was reluctant to be seen, he was NOT reluctant to be heard – these are LOUD birds!

It was fascinating to watch him dip his head in and out of the water…

…turns out he was diving for water plants beneath the surface.

Don’t you just love his colors? I think Rainbow Rail would have been a fitting name, especially since he is a member of the Rail family.

As we watched while one of these fellows was dipping and pulling and munching, a second appeared in the open water.

He was only there for a brief moment before he got agitated by the arrival of one of his relatives, a Common Gallinule.

Then he high-winged it out of there.

I think the above picture might be my favorite of the whole trip. And I can’t help but laugh because the Gallinule is considered a swamp-hen – and this fellow really was a chicken!

I had never seen one of these vivid beauties before this trip, so it was truly a treat to get to take his picture. I am glad he decided to venture out of his hiding place!

He is definitely one gorgeous Gallinule!

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A Whole Host of Herons

Herons are so common to Floridians that I’m pretty sure they consider me crazy when I show up and go ga-ga over them!

But hey – these oddly beautiful birds are not regular visitors to my backyard – nor am I a regular visitor to Florida – so humor me while I share some pictures of the herons I was blessed to hang out with.

The first to greet us as we entered the wetlands was this handsome Great Blue Heron. I think he had appointed himself guardian of the gate.

You could pretty much see one of these guys every time you turned around.

Also out in abundance was the Little Blue Heron. You can see that he is smaller than the Great Blue (hence the name) and lacks the white facial feathers and the dark legs of his relative.

This fellow was quite the fisherman. Don’t you just love that gleam in his eye.

The Tri-colored Heron is one that I don’t recall seeing up close and in person before. When he is all hunched up he is harder to identify…

…but when he faces forward you can see the large white patch of feathers on his chest.

And when he stretches out his neck you can see the cool color patterns.

The smallest heron that we got to hang out with was the Green Heron.

We watched him carefully scanning the water and then snaring a teeny tiny fish.

I think his colors are incredible!

And last, but not least, a pair of bird-watching buddies from Kentucky that we happened to meet excitedly showed us the hiding place of an American Bittern – who is part of the heron family.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to wander through the wetlands, hanging out with this whole host of handsome herons! I would definitely put this on my list of places to visit again. 🙂

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A Few Words of Wisdom

I just got back from spending a couple of days in Titusville, exploring the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and the Orlando Wetlands Park.  While it is still fresh on my mind, I thought I’d pass along a few words of wisdom in case you might be considering such a fun photography trip.

Number One: If you have a heavy lens, be sure and take along a sexy camera caddie. 🙂

Number Two: Objects in lenses may be closer than they appear! (Hubby serves not only as camera caddie, but as gator spotter since my eyes tend to be glued to the sky and the water in search of cool birds.)

Number Three: Be sure and make time for a little reflection…okay…a lot of reflection!

Tri-colored Heron

Great Egret

Purple Gallinule

Little Blue Heron

Pied Billed Grebe

White Ibis

There will be more posts in the days ahead, but I had such a good time that I wanted to go ahead and get one shared! Stay tuned!

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If You Fill Them They Will Come

Whenever I fill the backyard feeders, it doesn’t take long for the birds to arrive and start greedily indulging in the food offering.

There are the peanut poppers…

…the mealworm munchers…

…and those who believe that Bark Butter is the premiere item on the menu.

And while I don’t have a ball field in my backyard beckoning players from the past, I have found that as far as the feeders go, if I fill them they will come. 🙂

 

 

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A Wet Welcome

Rain…rain…and did I mention rain?  2019 has had a wet welcome!

Despite the near constant drizzle that has accompanied the start of the new year, the birds have been dropping in to indulge in some soggy seed! Here are a few I was able to capture in between showers.

The sun did bless us with its presence yesterday…pretty sure I heard all of Georgia shouting “Hallelujah!” Here’s hoping for a string of sunny skies soon! 🙂

 

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