Bird Rookeries along the Peace River

April 12, 2011 Wildlife Photography  7 comments

I’ve met so many absolutely wonderful friends and photographers through flickr over the last four years.   It’s amazing how one website can bring so many people together and have them become friends.  Everyone shares photography tips, the best places to go to find whatever bird or mammal you’re looking to add to your ‘list’ of images and we always have wonderful photography meet ups.


JMW on flickr, also known as Michael is one of those contacts.  He’s been a contact of mine for awhile now but we never had the chance to meet, until this past weekend.  He invited Michael Pancier, Claudia Domenig and I out on his boat for a tour of the bird rookeries along the Peace River.  I had already met Michael Pancier and Claudia at previous meet ups, but this was the first time I met JMW.


JMW put his boat in the water and we all climbed in with his help.  I’ve got to say, I haven’t been in a regular boat since I was probably ten years old.  Oh I’ve been on a ferry that went from Wales to Ireland, cruise ships, smaller ferries, etc… but it’s been a long time since I was on a regular boat.  This is one tidbit of info I didn’t share with the group, I didn’t want them to think I was going to get seasick (I know my husband was worried about that).  Quite the opposite, I had a blast!  On the way back, speeding through wakes from other boats was like a roller coaster ride, and to me that’s the best!


There were a bunch of pelicans out there, I just love those birds.  As goofy and big as they seem, they’re actually quite graceful in flight and fun to watch.


Yo!


Our first stop was where there were some Yellow Crowned Night Herons nesting.  They had nests but we couldn’t see any babies.  I was able to get one of the herons as it took off, they’re such unique birds.


Morning Take Off - Explore: Apr 9, 2011 #446


Our next stops were several other rookeries that were filled with Cattle Egrets, Woodstorks, Great Egrets, Anhingas, Cormorants, Night Herons, Ibis, and all kinds of other birds including Grackles, Cardinals, etc.


Just A Grackle


At one point JMW maneuvered the boat into a little horseshoe bend section of one of the rookeries.  We were literally surrounded on three sides with nesting birds.  It was amazing.  I’ve been to bird rookeries in the past, but they weren’t like this.  Usually you’re on a boardwalk with a bunch of other people.  This time it was just the four of us, in a boat, with all these birds just going about their business of building nests and feeding babies.  I was pretty awestruck to be smack dab in the middle of everything.   Mother Nature put on a show for us that day!



One of the most beautiful things about breeding/nesting season are the colors these birds get.  As you can see above the Cattle Egret is literally BURSTING with color.  This is the only time of year this happens, the rest of the year they go back to being plain white birds that follow cows around eating bugs in pastures (or even rooting around in the landscaping at your local McDonalds).  These are birds that most of the year people probably don’t even notice.  We saw a lot of Cattle Egrets getting sticks and ‘posing’ with them before moving on to wherever their nest was that they were building.


Dancer


The biggest population of birds there at the rookeries we visited had to be the Woodstorks.  They were EVERYWHERE and most of them had babies of various ages.  To photograph the Woodstork babies was actually a first for me!  Obviously the adult Woodstorks are not the supermodels of the bird world, but they are sure cool to look at….and seem very prehistoric to me.


A Couple


They were also very busy gathering sticks for their nests.  I’d like to think this one Woodstork (below) was going for more of a Martha Stewart  decorating motif of his nest, this is actually quite a pretty branch ;-)


Bringing Home The Bacon


Woodstork babies.  Again, not the supermodels of the bird world.  But they are really cute in their own way.


IMG_5690


Extreme close up of the same baby above…


A Face Only A Mother Could Love


I mentioned the colors before of these birds.  Here’s a Tri Colored Heron in his breeding colors, how blue is that beak?!  I call it Smurf blue.


Smurf Blue


We had a fantastic time out on the water with JMW.  He does do tours if you’d like to head out onto the river and witness Mother Nature at her best!  You can visit his website HERE for more information on the tours he offers.  If you haven’t visited a bird rookery by boat, you should!


I’ll leave you with some Woodstork babies that are in more of a ‘cute and fuzzy’ stage…..


Little Ones

7 comments to Bird Rookeries along the Peace River

  • Wayne UNITED STATES  says:

    Heather, super pics as usual, thanks for sharing….

  • (JMW) J. Michael UNITED STATES  says:

    Great job Heather. I really like all of the images..hard to pick just one ,BUT, the Grackle is really quite nice. The framing makes this one.

    Thanks for all of the kind words…you and everyone was just a pleasure to be with. Yes we need to do another outing before the summer heats runs us back to the AC’s.

    I’m off to Blue Cypress Lake for 2 days with a group of 6 photographers.

    Michael

  • Adrian McGarry UNITED KINGDOM  says:

    Really enjoyed your blog about your Peace River trip, your images are great. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Lynette UNITED STATES  says:

    I love to read about your photo trips. It sounds like this tour was exciting all the way to the end, surrounded by all of the spectacular birds and your photos are fabulous. I did get to go on the river and get a couple of shots. Even though the hubby and son were there to fish, I was lucky and got a night heron and some turkeys. I thought it was neat that you got a night heron too. They are both on flickr if you wanna see them but, alas I have no zoom lens (yet :))but I strained the lens I had to end. I would have had a yellow warbler, but it turned out to be a yellow blur. LOL (I am also reading your post on lenses a couple of posts ago and taking notes)

    Thank you for sharing.

    Lynette

  • Michael Libbe UNITED STATES  says:

    Great post and images, Heather. That would certainly be a trip to remember. Hopefully one day I will have a chance to visit those rookeries.

  • Kristi Hines UNITED STATES  says:

    Great photos! I like the last one best – I don’t think I’ve seen photos of them before. :)

  • sbpoet UNITED STATES  says:

    I just found your digital site — it’s a candy store! — & wondered why in the world you were being so generous with your work.

    So I came here.

    Oh, now I see your *real* work, and it is amazing.

    Thank you. For both.

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