Great Egrets - part 1
The Anhinga was not the only bird at the bottom of the garden.
On the very first morning I looked out from the house and was delighted to see a Great Egret walking along the edge of the pond. I quickly but calmly walked around the side of the house to see if I could get a couple of photos - I was delighted to find that the bird allowed me to get quite close. The light was quite dull that morning and, unlike the Anhinga, this particular bird didn't come back. But I was pleased with the images I got on that first morning - hoping for better at other locations later in the holiday.
These were not the only Great Egret shots of the holiday by a long way! On our previous family trip to Florida I had made one early morning visit to Gatorland Bird Rookery. This year I had a pass out for two!!
Gatorland itself is a theme park with, as the name suggests, alligators being the main attraction. Whilst this does make for a good family day out, the real attraction is the bird rookery. Since the early 1990s a variety of birds have come to this area to nest. Unlike the alligators, the birds are all completely wild, and free to come and go as they please. But they have learned that this is a safe place to nest and so come back year after year. Gatorland understand the needs of photographers and you can buy a variety of passes to the rookery outside of normal park opening hours - not only is this much quieter, but, being at either end of the day, the light is much better. You can get remarkably close to the birds!
I was lucky enough to pay two early morning visits - I took literally hundreds (probably thousands) of photos. It was interesting to see that the range of species was different to last time - whether this was a reflection of the different years or of the time of year - I don't know. This visit was in March/ April, and our last one was in February - this certainly meant I was visiting slightly further into the breeding season. There were a couple of species that were present in much larger numbers than before.
But one bird that was common on both trips was the magnificent Great Egret. The male and female birds are very similar. In breeding season they sport feathery plumes and their lores (the area near the base of the beak) go green.
I have a lot of Great Egret images from Gatorland Rookery. I will spread them across a number of different posts, starting with a few simple portraits below.
I will post further images of Great Egrets, including chicks, adults interacton with chicks, nest shots and flight shots, in subsequent posts.