Mary Lou and I like to get out about a half hour before sunrise. It is usually cool and the winds are calm. On January 8 the morning weather report caused us some concern, but the radar looked clear and we set out with an eye on the sky. The third-quarter Super-moon was almost directly overhead.
About ten minutes before sunrise we reached the lake. The sky had lightened up a bit but the opposite shore was still quite dark:
The diffuse light reflected on the still water as a Great Egret explored along the shore:
The sun reflected on a backdrop of high clouds to the west:
A large alligator moved lazily along, barely creating a wake:
Preoccupied with the alligator, I must have missed seeing a Bobcat as it crossed the road about 100 yards to the north. I snapped a few shots before it disappeared in the brush to the left:
I started to move quietly along in hopes of seeing the cat as it proceeded towards the lake, but it surprised me by suddenly running back across the road at a full gallop. In the space of only two seconds I shot a volley of 6 photos. All were poorly focused, so to make up for the lack of clarity I stitched them together to impart a sense of motion (click on image to enlarge):
I proceeded to the heron rookery, which is about another half mile beyond the lake. Hurricane Irma had pushed down nearly all the larger trees along the canal. Many were still alive and leafed out, their crowns protruding into the canal.
This seemed to be favorable for the herons, as the count has climbed from one to a dozen in the past few weeks. This morning I counted 7 adult and 2 immature Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. Some were already developing breeding plumage-- the top of their heads had lost the streaks and were turning to gold, their black legs showed brighter yellow color, and their nuptial plumes had emerged:
Immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:
At least two Black-crowned Night-Herons have also been present, though they are more secretive and I did not find them this morning. This is the adult:
At least one immature Black-crowned Night-Heron often roosted with the adult. Note that its bill is partly yellow and it lacks the fine spotting of the immature Yellow-crowned species:
The sky to the north indicated that the predicted storm front was approaching, but it seemed to be moving slowly, so I started back at a leisurely pace. Mary Lou was already home.
I stopped to photograph another Great Egret as it foraged in a lakeside marsh along with a pair of Mottled Ducks. Fish are trapped in the marsh as it dries up, and it becomes a rich food source. The female Mottled Duck subsists largely on fish and crustaceans during breeding season, so it must benefit from its association with the egret:
Other subjects along the way home were a Red-bellied Woodpecker...
...a European Starling...
...and an American Kestrel:
Light rain started falling and I had to cover my camera and hurry back to the house!
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display