Thursday, April 12, 2012

OTOW Unique Birders Go Up the River

The OTOW Unique Birders, led by head birder Margitta, car pooled to the Moss Bluff boat ramp where we met Captain Vince Druding to board our pontoon boat for a trip up the Ocklawaha River.

The Ocklawaha River watershed covers 2,769 square miles from Polk County to the St. Johns River. It is divided into the Upper Ocklawaha River, Lower Ocklawaha River, and Orange Creek sub-basins. The Upper and Lower sections are divided by the dam and lock in the background.

It's nesting time for the herons and egrets. These Great Egret parents were taking turns tending to their hungry babies.

Aren't they just the cutest babies you ever saw? Their beaks look too big for their little faces but they'll grow into them.

The river was a scenic path through the river shed habitats.

The birds were beautiful. Check out the breeding plumage on the Great Egret parent as it checks on the fuzzy balls in the nest.

A great deal of time is spent preening.

But the results are worth it!

Off he goes for more food for his hungry family.

We also saw Great Blue Herons.

and Anhinga families.

The Anhinga babies.

We saw this Great Egret and because his beak is darker than the others, there was some speculation it might be a White Great Blue Heron.

But looking closer, it was just a Great Egret; his legs are black, he has a smaller bill and no head plumes.

Osprey were everywhere. The first time I got a picture of an Osprey with a fish in his talons, I thought it was really original. Now I realize that there are fish in most of my Osprey pictures.

...but not all.

This is a Red-wing Blackbird. Most of the adult males had bright red on their wings. This one must be a juvenile.

The sun was shining on this male Boat-tailed Grackle showing his beautiful colors.

This is the female Boat-tailed Grackle.

We saw both Turkey Vultures and this Black Vulture.

The wild flowers lined the banks of the river and attracted loads of butterflies.

They were beautiful!

After our trip we had lunch at the Dam Diner and tallied our bird count. We saw 22 different kinds of birds. Great trip - thanks Margitta!

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