Zenfolio | April L. Gustetter | MAY 2013

64 photos
Hard to believe it had been four years since my last visit to this lovely watering hole - considering it is less than a block away (I pass it every day). Time may have flown by, but the birds haven't - the sanctuary is hidden but once in its presence, there is no doubt they own the place.

Wood Storks reign supreme, outnumbering the other species, but the Double Breasted Cormorant, Anhingas, White Ibis, and Cattle Egret were well represented. Summer is mating season, so all were raising babies. In smaller numbers were American White Egrets, Great Blue as well as Little Blue Herons, Yellow Crowned Night Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills. Even saw a Little Green Heron, but as is often their style, it was fairly elusive.

Spent three hours among the lush strips of this sanctuary and took over 400 photos, narrowing them down to these. I am very fortunate to have such a bountiful source of natural wonder.
The "A" marks my home, the ramp but a block away. The "strips" in the middle portion are where the birds raise their families, but the adventure doesn't end there - Lake Somerset leads to Wood Lake.This is the tiny channel connecting the front part of this lake (the part most people think is the only part) to the REAL treasure that is the bird sanctuary.Once through the channel, this is the view. And this photo doesn't do it justice.Those white dots in the distance are just a sample of the hundreds of birds covering the strips as they protect their babies.Two of the many species that call this rookery "home" are the Great White Egret at left and the Yellow Crowned Night Heron on the right.The only alligator I spied this day was not full grown and not interested in keeping me company.A Staircase To Heaven filled with Anhingas (love the two at the top).Wood Storks were by far the greatest in numbers, and certainly the least attractive (until they take flight - then they are the most lovely).This is the stance they take when in protection mode...every time I'd come near, they would stand tall and spread those massive wings.This wing spread reveals the black tips of the White Ibis as it makes its landing to join its feathered friends.Though I'm sure there were more, these were the only two Brown Pelicans I spotted.What they lack in facial beauty, the Wood Storks well make up for in grace when they fly.Was gliding toward this residence, drawn in by the tropical landscape and kayaks, when I noticed this Limpkin strolling by.This gives some idea of the population...not only were the tops of the strips covered by (mostly) Wood Storks, but volumes of other birds were inside the trees, nests everywhere.No idea what these are, but had to snap them.Whatever they are, they weren't there four years ago, because I have a shot of these limbs and they were void of anything living.This Great Blue Heron could only take so much of the ruckus between the two Tri-color Herons dancing beside it (and by the time this shot was taken, one of them flew the coop as well).Naturally camouflaged, this LIttle Green Heron was motionlessly intent on snagging lunch.Almost out of my view as the yak floated by, I barely captured the Little Green Heron before it was too late (center left...very blended into the landscape).Nothing disguising these guys...from the mature Cattle Egret bottom left, to the baby Anhingas center, behind the tree, to the many ages of Wood Storks in between.