Today was SuperSaturday, so by definition The Star of the Day would be a SuperStar.
And it was!
No doubt about it, it was babies!
Babies clearly were the Number One SuperStar of the Day!
Our morning outing was delayed by thunderstorms, severe enough to prompt lightning warnings.
But once they cleared we were off, looking for SuperStar candidates.
It didn’t take long to find one — in fact, we found it during an impromptu roadside stop when we saw a sandhill crane family feeding near a small pond.
And we didn’t just find one; we found two of them — in the delightful form of two fuzzy little sandhill crane colts.
They were a little wet but undetered by the thunder receding in the distance.
We have a few sandhill cranes up here in western New York, most reliably found at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, but they tend to wander just out of telephoto range.
Plus, they have a rather frustrating habit of feeding on the bad-light side of Wildlife Drive.
Not so with this sandhill crane family. They allowed us to approach to a close but respectful distance, which permitted some great captures.
Andy says that in Florida the cranes can have two, possibly three broods in the season.
Leaving the cranes was hard, but Andy had another place for us to explore.
This was at a freshwater national wildlife refuge with a Wildlife Drive at least three times the length of the one at Montezuma, and it didn’t disappoint.
There were no signs warning us to stay in the car lest we disturb the wildlife.
And there was no marsh drainage or other attempts to “simulate drought” in order to grow duck food.
(For the uninitiated, see Montezuma National Waterfowl Refuge here on this site.)
Apparently this refuge doesn’t really care about hunters or duck stamp dollars.
And Ducks Unlimited, Inc. is not on their list of financial partners.
They manage very well without them.
The very first animal we saw was an alligator!
I think Andy rolled his eyes a bit while I snapped away, but by this time he was getting used to my alligator fascination.
This one, he said, was “only a baby,” but it looked huge to me!
We saw a variety of shorebirds, the identification of which taxes the ability of my tiny brain to remember names.
But we also saw some “easy ones,” like black-necked stilts and killdeer.
It was pretty windy, which disturbed the birds.
And whatever I had caught on the plane was getting worse, which disturbed me.
So, I spent the harsh-light hours resting and eating lunch (two bags of Ricola cough drops).
The afternoon excursion was at a walking trail.
This afforded us glimpses of a variety of wildlife, including whistling ducks (which sound like songbirds!), a delightful green heron staring intensely at nothing, a nesting osprey, and some great blue herons.
Of course, there were alligators, too, mostly of whom stayed far away from us in the water.
Birds-in-flight was still a challenge but I managed to get a few decent ones.
And I got some good stills, including the aforementioned osprey,
a couple of the whistling ducks,
and a great blue heron struggling against the wind to stay safely perched in a tree top.
But the best was yet to come! SuperSaturday had a SuperConclusion — eye-level observation of an osprey nest!
The young resident was quite engaging and joined the crane colts as The Star of the Day.
The light was disappearing fast, so we had to work quickly.
After napping a while, the young man awoke revived and refreshed.
He repeatedly called out to mom to bring him some fish.
He also did a few other things.
(Whenever you see a bird do this, you know what to expect next, right?)
I’ll spare you the photo of that.
Mom did her best, but no dinner arrived during our period of observation.
Eventually the light faded, and we had to leave.
A brilliant end to a very brilliant SuperSaturday.
A few more from SuperSaturday, some good and some not-so-good:
The stilts were elegant:
I tried to convince Andy that this was a mini-alligator without eyes, but he was having none of it. 🙂
Oh, the cranes and their babies! Just fascinating!
Hey! That’s no way to talk to your mother!
A decent (for me) capture:
Definitely unhappy about the wind but managing a pretty good balancing act, thanks to those wings: