Friday, December 9, 2011

Beautiful Birds of Myakka

On a brisk, gusty November afternoon, Bruce and I kissed two mopey-eyed dogs goodbye (sniff, sniff), hopped in a taxi, made our way through airport security, glided along on several moving walkways and boarded a plane to the west coast of Florida. Thanksgiving with my family down in Longboat Key is always a joy. Our days are spent with loved ones, savoring delicious home cooked meals, basking in the warm, soothing rays of the sun and strolling on white, powdery beaches. Viewing the gorgeous wildlife of the Gulf Coast is a special treat for us as well.

This year, we decided to visit Myakka River State Park, only 40 minutes away. Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest state parks in Florida. The Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of diverse terrain. A most wonderful day was spent viewing an abundance of wildlife (especially birds!) and beautiful scenic landscapes. We observed at least 34 species of birds, eight American Alligators (two mating) and one furtive Florida Water Snake. I was thrilled to add two life birds to my list, as we spotted a few well camouflaged Wilson's Snipes and four elegant Black-necked Stilts.

This post features several of the stunning birds seen at the park ... and one BIG alligator.


A resplendent Tricolored Heron exhibits interesting fishing behavior


This lovely Sandhill Crane pair was one of several we observed at the park


A slender Greater Yellowlegs darts for prey in the shallows


An elegant Great Egret walks amid a lush bed of water hyacinth


I gasped when I saw this Great Blue Heron land in close proximity to the basking alligator. The scaly large-mouthed reptile showed no interest and a minute or two later slowly slid into the water.



The Wood Stork's diet consists of crayfish, crabs, fish, frogs and large insects. I find the prehistoric look of the Wood Storks bald head to be so very interesting.


Many solitary Glossy Ibis were seen feeding throughout the park. I recently read that these birds will without hesitation, indulge in eating water snakes.


The stunning blue plumage of a Little Blue Heron


We were thrilled to spot over 40 Roseate Spoonbills at the park. Most were congregated at a remote area of Upper Myakka Lake. This is not the greatest photograph, but I was elated to catch sight of the blushing bird in flight.


A beautiful White Ibis exhibits a mucky beak from probing in the mud for food


A Great Blue Heron and Wood Stork cross paths while seeking sustenance


Soon after the above photograph was taken, this American Alligator lumbered into the water and swam after another alligator, perhaps 300 feet away. The rapid chase continued for a few minutes until they both slowed down, swam side by side and proceeded to mate.

~ The average male American Alligator is 10-15 feet long and weighs 500-600 pounds ~


64 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

wow! what a great set of photos!!! would love to see tri-colors and spoonbills (and alligators, yikes!) have had the pleasure of one very prehistoric wood stork stopping here in NE Tx one winter. and some ibises and yellow-legs too. just so cool to see!!! lucky you!

PoetessWug said...

Yep! Beatiful photos of birds and one B-I-G alligator!! Yowzer!! :-))

Herman versteeg said...

wat een geweldige serie erg mooi.
groetjes Herman

Ellie said...

Wow, you have an amazing set of pictures here. Lovely.

Bets said...

Hello
What a very graet pictures .I love them all.
Greetings Bets

Andrew said...

Beautiful images... and wonderful wildlife to see so close.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

These are stunning images.

Gillian Olson said...

Beautiful images, thanks for naming them all because there are quite a few I hadn't seen before.

JRandSue said...

Amazing collection,fantastic detail.
Loved looking.
John.

Cindi Ressler said...

Awesome images Julie! I was at Myakka about a year ago and loved it there! Did you see the wild pigs?

Jim said...

Awesome, Julie! Myakka River SP is one of my fave stops when I get to Florida. I usually stay in one of the old cabins there ... such fun!

Tim said...

All the photos are impressive; but I really like the first one. Great photography!

Linda Rockwell said...

Wonderful photos, as usual. I'm sitting here watching it snow and longing to be somewhere warm. Your blog post took me there. Thanks for the mini-vacation! :-)

Daniel said...

Vibrant and stunning!

Dawn Fine said...

Super photos! I cant wait to get to Florida this winter to warm up!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Myakka River State Park looks really beautiful through your eyes Julie. Especially love the tri-colored dance! All beautiful images as usual :)

Dan Huber said...

Looks like a wonderful place to visit. YOu have amazing photographs, very stunning.

dan

Christine said...

Great photos! It looks like a nice place to visit :) Thanks for sharing!

MoiCLouLou said...

Hi Julie!

What lovely birds to see and photograph and you did very well!
Your pictures are stunning.
I especially like the first one beacause of the way the bird is standing, beautiful!
Thanks for sharing all this!
Cheers, Louise

MoiCLouLou said...

Hi Julie!

What lovely birds to see and photograph and you did very well!
Your pictures are stunning.
I especially like the first one beacause of the way the bird is standing, beautiful!
Thanks for sharing all this!
Cheers, Louise

Jann said...

I was waiting to see your FL photos! I can't wait until we're living on the SW coast of FL and I'll be close enough to visit the nature parks like Myakka River. Love the tri-colored heron shot; my first photo op wasn't nearly as good. No gator op yet, LOL, but do see many of them at the swamp's edge while driving Alligator Alley from Miami to the Ft. Myers area. Great post Julie! Did you grow up in FL or did your folks move there later on?

Mary Howell Cromer said...

These are all tremendous images of assorted birds and the Alligator is pretty cool too. The silly state where I live, is the only state in the USA to decide that it is OK to hunt Sandhill Cranes...and it makes me sick. At least some will not be taken and I hope not many at all~

Larry Ostby said...

Julie, your photos are stunning. The variety is very impressive. As always they demonstrate your photographic prowess. I believe my favorites are the Sand Cranes and the Wood Stork. Beautiful.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, fantastic birds and photos. What a great place for birding. I love the wood stork and the Little Blue is one of my favorites. Awesome photos.

Scott said...

Every image is gorgeous. Love the detail and the colour. Congratulations on the life birds. Must have been an amazing day. Thanks for sharing, Julie.

Elijah Goodwin said...

Lovely images Julie. Looks like it was some great bird watching.

Hilke Breder said...

Fantastic images, Julie! You have a real knack for catching the right moment. Gorgeous series!

Ben said...

Hi Julie,
Prachtige serie opnames heb je kunnen maken. Mooie diversiteit aan vogels laat je ons van meegenieten. Ik denk dat je de Grote Geelpootruiter hebt gefotografeerd, het verschil met de kleine is de grote maar duidelijker te zien aan de snavel, die is langer en iets krom naar boven gericht. Ik hoop dat ik je iets op weg geholpen met het herkennen van de soort?
Complimenten voor je werk!!

Greetings,
Ben

Debbie said...

ooooohhhhh julie, you always have the best pictures!!

i tried to pick a favorite but i just could not do it!!

i do love anything with a reflection.....

Manuel Luis said...

Comento as excelentes fotos, reflexos, cor, enquadramento, momentos perfeitos de fino gosto.
Quanto ao texto, não tenho o tradutor de momento.
Boas festas.
Abraço

Bob Bushell said...

Fancy that, I have been missing this blog, and, what a couple of birds and one of Alligator are all beautiful. I am stupid or something, your blog is full of clever stuff. I love the Glossy Ibis, tremendous. Thanks Julie.

Lisa Salt said...

Fantastic post Julie, beautiful photographs. Florida is my favourite place, haven't visited Myakka yet, but I will definately be adding it to the list now!

BIRDINGDUDE said...

As usual, an amazing set of images with a well narrated post. Excellent work Julie!

Beverly said...

I thought I left a comment yesterday but I must have done something wrong. :( Anyway, fabulous post!!! Your photographs are amazing as always! So glad you got to get away to such a gorgeous place. You got photos of some birds I've only seen in pictures. Great job as always!!!

Rachel Cohen said...

Wow Julie, all of these are such great captures! Really wonderful images! :)

Kerry said...

Really nice series of nature shots Beautiful Julie.

Guy said...

Hi Julie

What a wonderful post. I loved the red masks of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes and the flying Spoonbill.

All the best to you and your family for the holidays.

Guy

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Julie,
These all are fantastic shots!!
Wonderful to see all these different birds. I like them very much!! And what a special shot with the dangerous alligator,..really amazing!!

I wish you a wonderful christmas and all happiness and health for 2012.

Much greetings, Marco

forgetmenot said...

More amazing photos--such excellent photography, Julie. You look like you were closer than I would want to be to the alligator!! How is your house coming? Just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace, joy, and many blessings. Mickie :)

Rolfs Naturfotoblogg said...

Lovely and beautiful series of pictures of beautiful birds.
Well done.

Merry Christmas

John's Island said...

Hi Julie, Reflecting back on 2011, it was the year-of-the-blog for me. I got into blogging and one of the best things that came out of that was finding YOUR blog! Your pictures are simply awesome and you do such a great job of posting them and putting it all together in your blog. Your newest post here is no exception, and, as always, it inspires me to get out there and take some pictures. Julie, Merry Christmas to you and your family and may you have a blessed Happy New Year. Take care my friend! John

Joke van de Klift said...

Hi Julie,
First thank you for you visit on my blog, you are always interisting...!!!
But a WUNDERFUL blog do you have!!!
The birds are wunderful all of them are beautiful.
And the Aligator, wauwwwwww.
Iam very happy to see your blog.
And also I wish you and your famely a Merry Cristmas and a Happy New Year.
I see you again on my blog.

Warm Hug and lovely Greeting,
Joke.

Larry said...

First of all Julie, congrats on the lifers! Those Wilson's Snipes are sometimes hard to see even when they are out in the open.

Your shot of the Tricolored Heron is exquisite! It reminds me of the "crane" position Ralph Machio used in the original Karate Kid to beat the bad kid. I believe they call this "canopy feeding" technique.

Sandhill Cranes are one of my favorite and always nice to see.

I concur with your Greater Yellowlegs ID due to the longer, slightly upturned beak which is paler at its base. The Lesser Yellowlegs has an all black bill.

The Little Blue Heron is stunning! I would love to see one of those. And your in-flight shot of the Roseate Spoonbill is gorgeous!

All this plus you got to watch alligator mating behavior? Priceless!

Red Rose Alley said...

Those are very unique looking birds, and I've never seen many of them before. It's always nice coming over here, as I get a chance to view some wonderful pictures. I hope the New Year brings you much joy, Julie.
~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

stardust said...

First, I got caught by the deer in the header: she looks like our deer in Nara. Then, your photos of birds took my breath away. Such clarity, brilliance, and detail! I’ll be glad if you’d come to see our deer on my blog when feel inclined to.

Greetings from Japan
Yoko

Kathiesbirds said...

Julie, what wonderful shots! and what a fun day! Happy New Year to you!

Art said...

I wish you and your family a Happy New Year!

Manuel Luis said...

Para desejar a ti e toda a família, um excelente Ano Novo.
Beijos e abraços

Mariette's Back to Basics said...

Dearest Julie,

What a breathtaking photos you show us here! Wow, you were right into the action. We went once into the Everglades and got stuck with the hoover craft boat till we finally got rescued. Quite an adventure and we also saw aligators up close and lots of water birds. The quietness overcomes one, away from the hussle of this society in the peace and calm of nature. Well, peace? Not for those being eaten as a daily meal!
Love to you and a happy 2012 with many more great shots.

Mariette

Kay Baughman said...

Your photos are amazing! My favorite is of the Tricolored Heron. And the Cooper's Hawk looks as if he's about to speak!
Kay

KaHolly said...

What a glorious visit to W. Florida! I've been a few times, but never took such gorgeous photos as this! Thanks for becoming a follower of my blog. It's fun to meet new nature lovers. Happy New Year! ~karen

Angad Achappa said...

Wow.. you have such a nice blog and this post is awesome with all the lovely images.. :)
you have a new follower..love to see birds from different places... :)

Regards,
Angad Achappa

cristina munteanu said...

Wow! a piece of paradise!Thank you for sharing with us these photos!

Peaches Ledwidge said...

All I can sa is, wow. Beautiful images.

Miggy said...

Hey nice work.. we are both featured in the Photography Daily. congratulations!

~Tablescapes By Diane~ said...

Hi.
Wow you are good!! your photos are Gorgeous !!! My girl friend has a home on the East coast of Florida. She also takes photos of wild lift mostly birds like you do.. May be you know her ?? her name is Gale.
Im your newest follower on your Blog now. I hope you have a wonderful 2012 New Year with your family.
OOO Diane

Alfonso Buenaventura said...

Extraordinaria presentación!! Magníficos encuadres, colorido y detalles. Realmente sorprendente. Enhorabuena!!

Mia Mcpherson said...

Very nice images Julie, made me feel like I was back visiting Myakka!

John's Island said...

Hello Julie - This morning I'm checking out some of my favorite blogs. Nature's Splendor is always on that list. Although I did leave a comment on this post earlier, I just wanted to add that your photography is so great that it can be enjoyed over and over again. (Of course, everyone here already knew that, but I just thought I would put it in words. :-) ) For example, I was just looking at the aligator photo and, seriously, the surroundings are so perfectly captured, in addition to the aligator himself, that one almost feels like they are there ... What an excellent capture! I would also like to thank you again for stopping by my blog and leaving encouraging comments. Getting those comments from such an accomplished photographer is a large part of what keeps me inspired and motivated to keep improving my photography. Best wishes to you and yours. John

Julie G. said...

I am so very appreciative of all the kind remarks. Warm thanks!

Rebecca said...

Wow! Beautiful photos... Would have loved to see the alligator chase (at a distance)!

rollingharbour said...

Previous commenters have used all the good adjectives for this set. No, wait... Phabulous Photos, Julie. Love the airborne egret altercation and the tricolored heron - rh (accidental visitor blow-in from Abaco...)

Francesca said...

Fabulous photos! I am following you from Rome, Italy!

Ela said...

Your photos are SO GORGEOUS !
It is a great pleasure to watch wild birds on your blog !
Greetings