On our way to Paynes Prairie we made a brief stop at the University of Florida's Beef Farm to see the Sandhill Cranes that winter there. No, this one isn't missing a leg - it's neatly tucked under. Do you see the Killdeer in the background?
I get a kick out of the cows. They must be very used to the big birds!
On to Paynes Prairie and the LaChua Trail! Every time we visit it is completely different. There was a Bald Eagle on top of the electric towers at the beginning of the trail. Beth said that was a good omen and that we would see lots of birds.
I can't help myself - I just have to take lots of pictures of the Great Blue Herons. They are just so regal.
Naturally, there were many, many alligators sunning themselves on the banks of the river. There were so many on the side of the trail that the park rangers on 4-wheelers herded them back into the water.
The Green Herons were accounted for in numbers. In fact, all of the herons, egrets and ibises were there. We saw Black-crowned Night Herons in the trees across the water - but they were too far away for me to get decent pictures. Maybe Beth got some better shots with her fancy new lens.
The Glossy Ibis aren't very pretty this time of year.
I've only seen a Swamp Sparrow one other time - 3 years ago from the observation platform on the other side of the park. Very cool bird!
The Savannah Sparrows were everywhere.
This is the first time I've seen a Ruddy Duck at Paines Prairie. We also saw Green-winged Teal.
Later in the year the lores on this White Egret will turn bright green.
The Snowy Egrets have bright yellow lores, feet and yellow stripes on their legs.
This was a nice surprise - a Common Yellowthroat! I saw one years ago in South Florida, but never got a picture so it didn't count.
The Eastern Phoebes have been especially plentiful this year. I love when they call "fee-bee, fee-bee."
This was the trip of the Sora Rail. I bet we saw five during our 3-mile walk out to the observation platform and back again. We also saw one lone immature Purple Gallinule.
I feel like I take this same picture of a Tricolored Heron every time I visit.
And this was the best treat of the day - and the reason both Beth and I made it all the way out to the observation platform. We saw two King Rails! We heard they had been sighted and we weren't leaving before we saw them for ourselves! Life birds for all three of us!
Our walk back was a little slower than our walk out but we made it. As the Bald Eagle promised - it was a very good day!!