Last week I traveled to Orlando and Central Florida. Whenever my travel arrangements are such that I have to add a day, I try to include something fun or touristy in the area. Concerned that a Sunday flight might arrive too late to allow me to drive 90 minutes north of Orlando and not be exhausted on Monday, I added a day to the trip. We've been to visit The Mouse, so I decided to schedule birding time instead of doing the usual things in Orlando.
A lot of the birds were the same birds we see along the Texas coast and inland waters--herons, ibis, and such but I was able to see an Anhinga. We do have this bird, related to the cormorant in Texas but I'd so far not managed to actually see one. This one preened and posed very nicely for the camera! Some of the heron were similar but different, like this
|Little Blue Heron|
|Immature Little Blue|
Blues are white and frequently mistaken for young Snowy Egrets.
Meandering along the river, the boat actually made a big circle and we encountered an alligator basking on a tree trunk, as well as turtles and many other birds. Lazing down river was an old-style paddlewheeler. These old steamers were the only way to navigate the St. John's River in years bygone and they played an important role in the economic development of Florida.
|Florida Scrub Jay|
I sometimes take photos even when I'm not sure what the bird is or if the photo will even be viewable. The wonder of digital photography is that I can take 20 shots and it's okay if only one is good. Thankfully I decided to take a photo of a bird I could barely see in a tree. Turns out it is a Loggerhead Shrike. This amazing bird is small and hardly looks like a predator. Actually it is quite ruthless, hunting lizards, insects, mice, and other birds. It stabs its prey on its hooked beak and then impales the meal on thorns that hold the unfortunately creature while the shrike rips it apart. Nature is not always pretty!
There were many other birding areas in Central Florida but this was all I could fit in for one day. Thankfully, I had that day because shortly after I left the Lyonia Preserve monsoon rains started and continued through Monday. If I had not come in early, I would have missed so much beauty.