While human life is locked down, it behooves us to remember that the rest of nature proceeds as normal—indeed, better than usual without having to worry about people.
It’s Spring in Florida, and the birds are active on Tara Tanaka’s wetlands. (See her Vimeo site here and her Flickr site here.) Today we have a lovely two-minute video of Egrets and a Wood Stork feeding on fish and tadpoles. One egret spreads its feathers and roosts.
Yesterday morning I went out in the blind that was right next to the area where the Glossy Ibis and Great Egrets had been feasting on tadpoles the morning before, ready to capture individual Glossy Ibis feathers if they returned. One by one Great Egrets landed about 200’ directly to the east – not ideal light – but with their plumes and white feathers, and even their yellow beaks beautifully backlit. I waited for quite a while before rearranging everything in the blind in order to point my lens out a small side window, since I knew that if they were to move over near me I never would have been able to go back the way I was positioned without revealing myself to them.
One of the first birds to arrive was one of our older Wood Storks, his/her age demonstrated by the width and height of the black band running from side to side across the top of its head. Interestingly, the first stork scout to arrive last year had a very swollen foot, and this stork rarely stood on both feet, holding the left one in the air most of the three hours it stood on the wood pile.
Our Great Egrets were really late to nest this year since the swamp was so low until just a few weeks ago that the cypress trees they nest in were not surrounded by water, and therefore not protected from raccoons by our three large alligators. In the last few days I’ve seen a second wave of egrets arriving. They have not found mates yet and have the longest plumes and the most green color on their faces. Many of the birds feeding already have nests and are taking turn with their mates incubating their eggs, although those with the longest plumes are likely new arrivals. Despite the tadpole feast, there were other egrets deep in the swamp with other priorities. One male was displaying on an unusually high branch, and when an interested female circled and landed nearby, he joined her in the privacy of the dense cypress and Spanish moss.