It had been several years since I had
strolled the peaceful pathways of Washington Oaks State Park,
which were whipped into shape to become this very beautifully laid out garden and orange grove by
the couple who purchased it. The lush garden is irrigated by the water which bubbles up from Florida's
Aquifer through Artisan wells.
Situated on the river on the fairly
narrow strip of land that makes up this part of the world it gives those
of us who like to garden and like a mix of landscaped with natural areas some great ideas.
Across A1A is another part of the
park which I had not previously visited and it is a different landscape
for us here in Florida with a rocky outcropping of sand stone sculpted by the sea and wind. We don't have
many rocks here in the Sunshine State so this is an unusual area which needed preserving.
And of course the trip this far
South always culminates with a trip to the Alligator Farm
since it is the beginning of nesting season for the Marsh Birds we find there. It was feeding time
as I passed the big American Alligator pen. I stopped to watch the young lady walk fearlessly among the large
"well fed" gators as they jockeyed for position to get the whole chicken (feathers and all) treats she was tossing
to them. She was quick to point out that the chickens were bought frozen which makes it seem more
palatable to the crowd, almost like going to the gator grocery store.
A few of the little Snowy Egrets are
showing up with their mating plumage for all the birds with their
special red mating colors in their face, whatever makes them more attractive to the opposite sex
is the name of the game.
|Sometimes one just needs "shake it all about" to fluff all those new feathers.|
|Lots of primping and preening goes into the game of attracting a mate in the bird world also.|
The "Old Swimming Hole" was busy as
usual as the White Ibis, the Great White Egrets, and others
frequent this spot to frolic in the water. The water is shallow and shady so probably is less likely
to attract the many cold blooded Alligators in the pond which seem to prefer the warm sunshine.
|Ready or not, here I come!!!
Mating activities go on all around
the place with much commotion but also very unnoticed by
the nearby birds. We will leave these two to some privacy.
Nest building which goes hand in hand
with the mating was starting to become a big activity for
The Great Whites were further along
with their mating rituals with eggs in the nests already being set
upon by some while others are into their dance of love, of slowly bending and then gracefully reaching
upward in what is called skying. Great spreading of the long beautiful feathers which almost
caused their demise in years gone by in also part of the courtship.
|Such beautiful regal birds they were rightfully chosen to be the symbol for the Audubon Society.|
Now a bird of a different
color. The pale to bright pink of the Roseate Spoonbill with
its funny looking big
paddle of a beak. They hang out in large numbers in the early morning and late afternoon but so far
have not started nesting here. Maybe this year.
|A great wingspread as this one gingerly ends its flight looking like a tightrope walker.|
|The telltale green "lores" are starting to show up on the faces of the Great Whites.|
This interesting trio seemed to be
two females with the male working to get in good with both.
Notice the pink feet which happens when those hormones start running rampant during this time
of the season, like the green or red on the faces of the other species.
The woodstork in the back went from
one female to the other, not sure what happens if he succeeds
with both. Two households would be quite a chore to keep up with when feeding time comes around.
The mister brings more twigs to add
to the nest of the already setting mom. The nest has to be
constantly expanded and upgraded as the eggs hatch and babies grow larger and larger.
I caught on Little Green Heron
hanging out. They don't nest with the others but over in a
section of the park.
The shadows of the late afternoon
told me it was time to try to beat traffic north as I had another
meeting to attend before crossing the big bridge over the St. John's River and be back on island time.
One last bird which was not so exotic
looking was this slow moving dove with a ring around its neck.
I am not sure if it is the Ringed Turtle Dove which according to my bird book is found further South
or just some other kind of dove--maybe a pidgeon, I am not a very good bird person. I have a pair
of this same kind of dove behind my gallery but have been unable to get a photograph of them.
It was a fun day and a long one. I am playing catch up these days, but seeming to see progress.
Now that I've finished the Alana Grow workshop, with 5 days of intensive work, maybe I'll get
ahead soon. Spring has finally made its way south and thankfully although warm not the
heat of some of our more northern regions of the country--
93 in Connecticut today only in the mid 80's here.