Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!

Every so often, especially in the late winter, our little suburban lake becomes an amazing bird sanctuary. Sometimes the event lasts a few hours, sometimes only a few minutes, but it's always an incredible sight, and one that I've never satisfactorily captured with a camera.

Here's what you see in this picture: A great egret, two great blue herons (one flying, one wading) and a pelican.

Here's what you don't see, but were all hanging around nearby:
  • 5 more great egrets
  • 3 wood storks
  • 2 snowy egrets
  • 1 little blue heron
  • 2 limpkins
  • 30 - 40 cormorants
  • and the usual complement of muscovy ducks and mallards
Today was a day where they were moving through pretty quickly, and by the time I made it outside with a camera, most of them were headed toward the north end of the lake and too far away for pictures. This kind of gathering is a reasonably common event this time of year, though, so hopefully we'll be able to get some better pictures in the next couple of weeks.

I don't know exactly what causes this diverse group of birds to gather in this way. It's chilly today - perhaps the fish are closer to the surface trying to catch some sunlight? What brings the pelican this far inland (we're about 6 miles from the bay)? What brings together so many great egrets and great blue herons, who generally seem to be loners? Why do we sometimes see 40 cormorants and sometimes only 1 or 2?

Even without answers to our questions, these "Great Bird Events" are one of the highlights of life in My Florida Backyard. After all, some people travel hundreds of miles to see birds gather in these numbers. I can see it all out of my own back window!

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