Several months ago, I spent a day with a good friend of mine, Jess Yarnell. We set out to photograph some young sandhill crane colts, but we couldn’t locate them when I arrived at our destination, some 3 hours from my home base. I know that Jess was disappointed and felt bad about my drive up, but we both vowed to make the best of the day … and we sure did.
We drove to Orlando Wetlands Park, which is located on the east end of town, near Orlando. It was my first visit there and as soon as we drove in and started our walking tour through the wetlands, we could hear a chorus of black-bellied whistling ducks in the distance. We were already laughing … let the day begin!
There was no shortage of black-bellied whistling ducks present … in the air, on logs, in the wetlands, just about everywhere. I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many congregated in the same place before!
Of course, it wasn’t just the BBWDs that kept us entertained … there were tri-colored herons feeding in the reeds …
… a couple of handsome looking grebes in their breeding plumage …
… a great blue heron busy with some feeding of its own …
… black-necked stilts, blue-winged teals, and even a bald eagle made a low-profile fly-by, which surprised us both.
A gathering of roseate spoonbills were mostly sleeping when we arrived, but by the later morning, one by one, they began to get active … preening themselves, stretching, walking about, interacting with each other and my personal favorite was them talking a bath in the water.
Now I had never seen them quite like this before, as they trashed about abruptly and methodically slapped their wings on the surface of the water – over and over. All the while, they possessed the most silly face, as if to ask us “what are you guys looking at?”.
Then it was the snowy egrets turn to entertain us. They were pretty much getting ready for the spring season, which can only mean one thing … showing off for the ladies! We watched as they displayed their plumage, chased after one another, and danced about in mid-air. It was such a fun thing to witness.
After some time, we decided that it was time to retreat from the harsh sun for a bit, but not before we had one last encounter. This time though, it wasn’t of an avian kind, but rather a turtle kind. A snapping turtle made an appearance before us, to be specific. I was amazed at just how big it was …
… and how prehistoric it appeared … long nails, spiny-looking protrusions, that thick looking neck and strong jawline.
Yes, it was quite the fun, yet totally unexpected, morning. Just goes to show that sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but if you kept your mind open to other possibilities, it still can be a lot of FUN!
© Debbie / TNWA Photography