After a recent fishing trip, my husband was filleting his catch at the marina before heading home for the day. This always draws quite a crowd…not people admiring the catch for the day, but shorebirds hoping for a snack. The feathered opportunists, this little Blue Heron, a few Brown Pelicans and a Great White Egret, were all watching intently looking for any chance that they might have a free lunch. While the pelicans are a given at any marina along the Gulf, Little Blue Herons are a treat to see. Little Blue Herons are small herons that are easily recognizable because they are as named, all blue. That is unless they are juveniles. In their first year, Little Blue Herons are actually all white. This heron is the only species to have such a dramatic color change as they age to adulthood.
After a slow start, it’s rainy season in Florida. Usually we can expect storms every afternoon thanks to the sea breeze collision from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and the storms last for about a half an hour. In the last few weeks however, we’ve had some storms last the better part of a day and dump inches upon inches of rain. With swelling retention ponds and drainage ditches full of water making them look more like creeks, wading birds are loving it. Herons and Egrets that have been limited to larger bodies of water are now able to spread out a little and find food all around them. Birds like this Great Blue Heron photographed at John Chestnut Sr. Park are now easily seen in my neighborhood retention pond enjoying lunch.
Reddish Egrets are considered medium to large herons at just under three feet tall. Common along the Gulf Coast, I had never seen a Reddish Egret until moving to Florida a few years ago. With blue-gray bodies and and reddish heads and necks, it’s easy to see where they get their name. Often found stalking fish in shallow saltwater, Reddish Egrets are truly entertaining to watch as they spin and flap their wings in effect “herding” the fish into the just the right spot before striking. This Reddish Egret was photographed at Caladesi Island taking a break from fishing to enjoy the view.