Friday, July 1, 2011

BIRDS: THE HEART OF THE EVERGLADES!

Hello to all our faithful readers. I'm Phyllis, Jim's other half. Today, I'm posting a blog on my trip through the Everglades National Park in Shark Valley. The Shark Valley area is home to a diverse number of animals and plants. The various species change with the seasons and water levels throughout the year. As a result, every journey through the Everglades offers a different experience for each visitor.


Shark Valley offers tram tours that last about two hours. The tour is led by a naturalist, in our case a very knowledgeable guide named Bill, who took the visitors through the northern region of the park. As Bill was identifying plants and animals that we encountered on our travels, I was snapping furiously. What I noticed most was the serene environment which allowed the birds in particular, to roost. In my photography experience, I'm used to seeing birds fly frantically to escape the peering eyes of the unwanted. In this park, they were comfortable, settled and beautiful. The first two images demonstrate that environment:
( Remember to click on an image for a large view)






As we proceeded along, I began to notice some stunning bird behavior. The first bird was an anhinga. The anhinga is a large bird with a long S-shaped neck and long pointed bill. The males have grayish-black feathers with a greenish shine to them. They have large wings with silver-white feathers on the top side. Females have a light tan head, neck and chest and a black stomach. 


Both male and females have long fan-shaped tail feathers. The anhinga has poorly developed oil glands and its feathers aren't as waterproof as other water birds so it will often perch in a tree or on the ground and open its wings to dry its feathers and warm its body. I was able to capture that behavior here.






My next encounter was that of a little blue heron. The little blue heron is a small heron. It is about two feet tall with a wingspan of about forty inches. It has slate-blue feathers with a maroon neck and head. Its bill is gray with a black tip and curves slightly downward. It has gray to blue legs and feet. Males and females look alike.


The little blue heron eats fish, crustaceans, amphibians, insects and reptiles. It stands in shallow water and waits for its prey to go by and then it grabs its prey with its pointed bill. The little blues have a lifespan of about seven years.




My last images are those of a Great Blue Heron. Great blues reach about four feet in height and have wingspans of about six feet. Because of hollow bones, adults weigh an average of only five pounds. They have long necks and a long bill adapted for grasping prey. 


Great blue herons are stand and wait predators. They can remain motionless for long periods of time waiting for prey to get close. 
Their large size enables them to feed on a variety of prey including fish, frogs, turtles, young birds and bird eggs, snakes, insects and other small mammals. They feed during the day or night generally within three miles of their colony. They tend to be lone feeders but if food is plentiful, they will feed with others. 






I have to admit, Great Blues are some of my favorite birds. Because of their ability to wait, I am encouraged to stare at them for hours. The amazing thing about them is because they are so acclimated to people they will not be disturbed if you watch them hunt and for that I am eternally grateful. 


I hope you have enjoyed my visit through the everglade world!    

22 comments:

GeetS said...

this is really amazing thanks for sharing Jim

alejandro guzman said...

Thanks Jim and especially Phyllis for these pics of the everglades. Just one question. Why is is called a big blue when it is grey?

A

Rimly said...

Thank you Phyllis for the tour. I loved that small blue heron.

Team G Square said...

Just loved all the images , there are just superb . I loved the blue heron very much.

Dangerous Linda said...

great images and commentary. your description of typical bird photography scenarios made me laugh -- i have many photos of mother duck and ducklings running away -- haha! sounds like a lovely bird park to visit, especially for photos ;-)

Bec Owen said...

Beautiful, beautiful shots, Phyllis! My favorite is the little blue guy - he's a gorgeous color!

Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures. I'm really enjoying your blog.

Tigger said...

awesome shots! very interesting facts about the birds... thanks for sharing!

Hamlet's Lair said...

beautiful images! i love the little blue heron in particular.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I love the little blue herons! They are my favorites of all your bird photos. I always appreciate your commentary. Your area of the country is so completely different than the Seattle, WA area. It's really fascinating to learn new information.

sheril benedict said...

Blue heron was awesome !! loved all the pics Jim

IRFANUDDIN said...

loved them....as usual awesome pics.....:))

Sea Green Natural said...

As always thank you for letting me accompany you on these amazing trips. Wonderful pictures of the birds!

Nelieta said...

I enjoyed reading this! I like the blue Heron. Well done Phyllis and thank you for taking us on this adventure!

melissa said...

First of all, I like the title Phyllis :)...when there's a heart involved somewhere, it has to be great.Second, what you wrote on species changing over the course of the season and water level is very very interesting. It's awesome to be in a place that provides different experiences every time you go there and visit ;). Third, you have a very keen observation of everything that surrounded you...and yes, even I were amazed that some animals,in this case, the birds, were already comfortable having people taking photos of them ;). I believe they have more natural intelligence than instincts...

I like the second photo with the blue in it that balanced the green...

I remember anhinga in one of Jim's posts and their sebaceous glands.

I love your image of the blue heron, the delicate ripples of the waves, reflections...

Bellissime! Thanks for sharing this Phyllis...YEY!

BlogNostics said...

You are skillful in words and photos Phyllis. The Everglades is admirable, the bird images are stunning. Everything is harmonious as well. It could be felt in your post.

Thank you for sharing your experiences there.

Tameka said...

Hi Phyllis! Nice to finally meet Jim's lovely half. You guys are a perfect match. Just as with Jim, I love your photos. That blue heron just pops off the page. Thanks for the trip through the Everglades! :-)

cjpwisdomandlife.com said...

The bird photography is AMAZING! Envious of the shots. Being a photographer myself, I understand how difficult bird photography can be.

LOVE all of them!
--
Chris

Abhisek said...

Hi Phyllis....I like Jim and your photography and there's a reason for that.Many photographers I have seen try to capture only the frame perfectly but very few photographers capture the essence of the moment, and you both have that ability.Your photographs speak for themselves.Liked the blue heron pic a lot.The info you provide shows your interest about the subject you are capturing and that's very important for a photographer.Keep posting. :)

sulekkha said...

Hi Phyllis, Loved your pictures of the birds anhinga, blue heron and big blue. I am interested in your answer to Alejandro's question about the big blue :) Both you and Jim are great photographers and storytellers. Enjoyed your post..

JIM said...

A few have asked about the Great Blue actually being grey in color. Why is it called blue? I have been asking that questions for years of other photographers , birders and <yes< on Google. No one really has a good answer or actually any answer. I have been told that it's color is blue/grey and in truth in some light they do look bluer. In England and parts of US there is a Grey Heron that looks a lot like the Blue????? I think it is just the name it was given at one point and it stuck!!!

unikorna said...

breathtaking glimpses of life, lovely blog :)

Alfandi said...

wow..I'm jealous of you guys..waterbirds galore compared to my place..excellent pics..