|Oaks and Spanish Moss|
|Least Grebe in the background, and that splotch of red is a Vermillion Flycatcher!|
|Least Grebe (chased by a Pied-Billed Grebe)|
|Here's that mean Pied-Billed Grebe|
This is a big park, but we did not have all day, so we had to prioritize where to go. We decided to first walk the 1.7 mile loop trail around Elm Lake. We were on the hunt for some Eastern warbler species that had recently been seen there, but we didn’t have luck with those. But the Little Blue Heron, Common Gallinule, and Eastern Phoebe were kind to us.
|Little Blue Heron|
|Common Gallinule (Still want to say Moorhen)|
|"I'm so pretty, oh so pretty!"|
We also had quite an exciting moment when we had a fly by Crested Caracara!! It happened all so fast that we didn't get any photos. These are such handsome birds, and we had not seen them since our South Florida days. And even then, we had only seen them a couple of times. This was also a target bird for us once we saw that there were recent sightings for it. We couldn’t believe it was so close and accessible to us! Since I have no photos to share, enjoy these lovely Blue-Winged Teal and Alligator instead. :)
Walking around the lake, we had some nice views of some other old friends, like Anhingas and White Ibis. They politely posed for us as we strolled around the trail. Also, it was an eerie sight to see the waterline from when it had likely flooded during the recent Hurricane Harvey. It’s good to know that these natural spaces can bounce back, especially with the help of dedicated employees and volunteers.
|Evidence of how high the flood waters rose|
|Notice the dark layer showing the flood line across the trees|
|White Ibis checking his pulse|
Anhingas (aka Snakebirds) are really quite striking, especially when they are spreading their wings. And contrary to what many believe, Anhingas do have an oil gland! We saw it! I've read that the spread-wing posture may be more for thermoregulation rather than drying off.
We had a little bit of time to check out Creekfield Lake before heading out. We heard a Barred Owl asking, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” But as hard as we tried, we could not find him up in the tree to answer him! Along the swampy area, we mostly heard more of the appropriately named Swamp Sparrows. We really could only see obstructed views of them in the tall grasses. They know just how to fly high enough to get us excited, but duck down low again just enough to frustrate us. Just let us love you and see you!
|Blue-Headed Vireo (such a cutie!)|
Well, at least another handsome male Vermillion Flycatcher was much more obliging – leading us along the trail and posing ever so nicely for us as we crept up on him.
This place was so special, and we will definitely be back!