Thursday, August 9, 2012

ANOTHER WILD MORNING AT THE LAKE

click photos to enlarge
Now, just how did I see these little ducks tucked back under all this brush?  Its called the wonder of Nikon 10X56 binoculars.  I noticed the movement when I turned into this short cove.  I continually search for green and black herons and usually discover other worthwhile photographic opportunities during those searches.

Both birds are juvenile mallards.  Its odd they don't fly away at my approach.

Look at that sweet face staring at you.  Something I might point out here.  I was at first thinking these might be blue winged teal ducks due to the fact their bills are black and not yellow.  All mallards have yellow or yellow edged in black depending upon their age.  They also have orange legs.  Juvenile and female blue winged teal, when at rest, are difficult to tell from a mallard.  The teal always has a black beak and sports yellow legs.  These are indeed mallards.  The black beak is a problem.  The coloration is from breeding out of their pure species line.  Possibly they've cross bred with domestic ducks or even another half breed duck from the wild.  One thing is certain - mallards have yellow bills. These have black.  Odd to say the least.


I know what your thinking.  Not another great blue heron picture.  I know.  I know.  There are a lot of them out there and are a very common bird.  The one above struck me as unusual in his demeanor.  He appeared more stately than other herons.  He seems to have life figured out.  No doubts.  No problems.  He was cool!  Great Blue Herons are individuals and act accordingly.  If the observer takes the time to really watch them he'll notice that each has his own idiosyncrasies.   For instance - I've never seen a great blue heron run.  Never - that is until today.  Check out the big guy below.  He's stepping out.  I don't know where he was headed for but, he was in a hurry.

Another question you may have is "why doesn't he photograph more mammals?"
That answer is easy.  There aren't any on this lake.  Deer and muskrat are just about all there is to work with and they are relegated, for the most part, to the upper end of the lake on the river sections.  This is a flood control lake and presents an ever changing habitat for critters.  Most mammals just can't deal with it.  The other reason is that I like wading birds and birds in general.  I will have more mammals and reptiles up here shortly.  I have a plan.  But, in the meantime I hope you aren't bored with the birds.

One of my favorites is the green heron.  I love this bird.  He is a real character and a hoot to watch.  I have photographed many green herons and never grow tired of them.  I photographed a green heron today who displayed a new look to me.  Check it out below:
The first couple shots are of a typical green heron on the hunt.  Silent and stealthy he moves along the log searching for some dim witted salamander or lizard.  A frog would suffice, or maybe a minnow swimming too close to the surface.  He wasn't particular.  He wears a serious face.


All of a sudden he notices the big white boat and lets out a long, loud squawk followed by two more shorter squawks and takes off.  He lands to the left of the boat on the shoreline.  The really interesting thing is that he fluffed up the plumage on top his head and down his neck.  They do this when excited or upset.  This act is known as cresting.  He has raised his crest plumage.  The bird below is the same as the one above accept for the raised crest.  His neck is extended full length also.  It doesn't look like the same heron but, it is.


He complained there on the beach and finally exited stage left..


I hope to discover the green heron's nesting areas up at the Rankin bird area.  They are prolific up there and certainly nest in that immediate area.  The bird above resides on the lake near the Henderson Island Wildlife Refuge.

The shift was over and I noticed some vultures squabbling over a morsel of some unfortunate critter on the shoreline.  They were turkey vultures.

Now, there's odd company.  The heron needs to be more careful as to the company he keeps.  Actually he was on those rocks first.  The turkey vultures invited themselves for dinner.  It seems that a dead fish was on the menu.

More vultures continued to arrive.  That one dead fish wasn't enough for everyone.  Soon squabbling occurred.

There was much posturing and display.  Finally the dominant bird with the fish flew into his tormentors and a serious scuffle ensued.  

 He was powerful and a dictator.  The other vultures were cowered in his presence


And yet, there were those who would test his ability to rule.

Ouch - that has to hurt!
The morsel of food is small and the hungry many.  The strongest eat and those with lesser status in the group go without.  It is the law in nature.  Survival of the fittest.  Only the strongest survive. It is no joke to all the wild ones.

Another typical morning in my life has ended.  Now - off to accomplish some serious work.  MOWING GRASS!