Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Campus Retention Ponds

I used to enjoy walking down to the campus retention ponds in the winter because they were often crowded with birds. Hundreds of ducks of several species would share the ponds with scores of Cormorants, while the banks would be lined with Great and Snowy Egrets. Then a new park (Horsepen Creek Park) opened up directly across Barker Cypress Road. As this park includes a huge pond, it is a more attractive option for ducks and other birds that live on or by the water. So the campus ponds no longer host many birds and I rarely visit them any more.

However, every now and then the situation changes and birds move back from Horsepen Creek Park to the campus ponds. This is what happened today.

At lunchtime on Tuesday, when I was leaving work, I noticed that there was a lot of activity on the college's southern pond. Several dozen Laughing Gulls floating on the surface were too distant for me to photograph; so, too, were a couple of Pied-billed Grebes. Two American White Pelicans were rather closer. As is often the case, they were being shadowed by a group of Cormorants.

The western edge of the pond was lined with Great Egrets.

I counted ten - and then another flew in.

The northern edge was even busier, but this time with Snowy Egrets.

They looked really beautiful silhouetted against the sun.

When I was leaving, I noticed that a group of 20+ Cormorants had rushed over to the northern edge and were standing in the shallows in front of the Snowy Egrets. They were holding their wings out to dry. It looked for all the world as if they were begging from the Egrets.

I decided I would keep an eye on the ponds for the rest of the week to see whether all these birds lingered there or whether they would fly back across to Horsepen Creek Park.

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