Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Big Weekend: High Island Rookeries

The main attraction at Smith Oaks are the rookeries. These are on small islands in the lake but many are close enough to the path that you can get great views of the birds.

When we arrived, the islands' trees were absolutely packed with the nests of different birds: Double-crested Cormorants, Great and Snowy Egrets, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills and Tricolored Herons. The spectacle was almost overwhelming - as was the noise of hundreds of chicks screaming for food.

A Typical Tree Top

Great Egrets were among the most common birds.

Some of the egrets, like the one below, appeared to be more interested in preening than in their chicks.

Others were attentively feeding their babies.

Plenty of color was added to the scene by the large number of Roseate Spoonbills.

Tricolored Herons were fairly few and far between but we saw a couple fly over.

Tricolored Heron

Surprisingly, considering how crowded the rookery was, most of the birds seemed to co-exist quite happily, like these Great Egrets and Roseate Spoonbill.

Great and Snowy Egrets and a Spoonbill

However, there was some jockeying for good perches, as between this Spoonbill and Cormorant...

... and tempers got a little frayed now and then.

We were going to stay until dusk to see the rest of the birds fly back to their roosts but the mosquitoes became too fierce. So we headed back to the hotel, stopping to admire this very bold rabbit.

The trees near the parking area had many Eastern Kingbirds and a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, as well as a couple of Chestnut-sided and Bay-breasted Warblers.

Bay-breasted Warbler (Another life bird)

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