We got out before sunrise. It was cool and still, in the low 70s. We found heavy fog on the wetlands next to our home.
Two White-tailed Deer, barely visible, strained to see us through the mist, and then bounded off.
Black Vultures on an old power pole were like ghosts,...
... and a Great Egret looked so soft against the diffuse background.
The fog began to lift a little after sunrise and the rays of sun pierced through. A westerly breeze dried the vegetation.
The fog had lifted by the time I got to the heron rookery, where three pairs of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were displaying in courtship and also to assert territorial rights between males. Last season we had eight pairs of Yellow-crowned plus three pairs of smaller Green Herons nesting here. The rookery occupies a narrow strip about 200 yards long on the right (east) side of this canal, in the back yards of several homes.
Road construction at the far (north) end of the rookery has caused concern they might abandon the area, but they have persisted despite the disturbance. Note the yellow containment float intended to keep construction debris from floating down the canal.
As I approached, I noticed a male Yellow-crowned Night-Heron standing next to the canal.
I did not witness any mating, but one male was already building a nest.
The bright red legs of the males indicate that they are in breeding condition.
The demure females looked on. Note their paler legs and less yellow in their crowns.
We saw five pairs of Night-Herons and two that were still in immature plumage. One of these stood alone.
Three pairs of Green Herons now have reoccupied territory at the south end of the rookery. The male of this species also develops blood-red legs.
Two venomous Cottonmouths cavorted in the canal, which was loaded with small fish. Spring is in the air!
As I approached, they sped off in opposite directions, as if illicit lovers caught in a tryst. Unlike the non-venomous water snakes, Cottonmouths swim with their heads held up above the surface.
On the way back home two shrikes had a friendly encounter.
Mockingbirds, cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds were singing. It quickly warmed into the mid-80s.
The vultures were no longer shrouded in fog. They dwarfed a single Red-winged Blackbird.