Silver River Post 4 – January 28, 2017

Over the past 3 days I have shared pics from our January 25 trip on the Silver River.  Those posts covered the general paddle, turtles, gators, manatee, monkeys, and flowers.  Today’s post includes pics of birds.

The Silver River is our go-to river for bird photography because you can usually get quite close (which is a requirement for our point-and-shoot cameras) and because there is such a wide variety of birds along its short 5-mile length.  It’s also a courtship, breeding, nesting and nursery ground for several species.  Here are some of my favorites from the day.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodrias)

Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodrias) are territorial and stake their claim to a specific piece of shoreline. They are solitary except during breeding season.

Female Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) drying her wings. Anhingas and Cormorants do not have oil glands like other water birds so they must dry out their wings several times each day.  Females have a buff-colored neck while males are black.

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) usually scurry into the vegetation ahead of us, but these three were busy feeding and paid us little attention. They are easy to identify by their red-orange face plates and their loud cackling. Although they look like ducks they do not have webbed feet.

Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

A Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) upset many of the smaller river birds as it swooped back and forth over the river looking for a meal

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is upset by the hawk swooping over the river. When excited they first extend their necks then they will lift the feathers on the top of their heads.

White birds against a dark background are very difficult to photograph, especially with point-and-shoot cameras which tend to over-expose anyway.  The detail in the white feathers easily gets washed out.  I’ve been experimenting with different settings to overcome this problem.  I’m not satisfied yet, but I think things are improving.

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea). They are white for their first year and frequently mix with White Ibis flocks. During their second year they gradually morph into their slate blue adult plumage.

Mature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Mature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) showing off it’s iridescent purple neck. Whether young or mature they can always be identified by their pale greenish legs and beak.

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) roosting in a tree. NEVER paddle UNDER an Ibis tree unless you want a white speckled kayak!

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) hunting crusteans in matted vegetation. Ibis are social birds and can be seen in huge flocks year round.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba) starting into breeding plumage. You can see the aigrettes (whispy featherings) coming off the back and if you look closely a hint of green around the eyes.