Sunday, November 11, 2007

St. Marks NWR

I stopped here on my way home from a camping trip at Ochlockonee River State Park. I wasn't expecting much--last time I was here not only was there no water, but no birds to speak of either. This time was a little better, and I met some nice other photographers while I was there, one a newbie and one very accomplished. That's always fun.

Last time there were no pelicans in sight, this time they were lined up on the pilings.



I moved in for a closer view.



This park recently had its Monarch Festival. This is the tail end of monarch migration time, and this refuge is a regular stopping point for them. While most have moved on, I did spot a few here and there.



And of course the Gulf Fritillaries were out as well.



I walked around the now-dry lighthouse pond. It isn't completely dry, actually; there are small puddles of water here and there. And a few sandpipers in them.



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This great blue heron was crouching in a strip of grass in what used to be the pond.



I continued on the walk between the Gulf and the pond area to the end. This is the view looking back toward the lighthouse:



And here's what you see if you pivot 180 degrees:



I decided to walk back to the lighthouse--there is a fair amount of water in the marshland near it, particularly at high tide. These snowy egrets were in the grasses in the middle.



This lone egret was near the shoreline, along with a tricolored heron.



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I watched the tricolored heron for a while as it hunted for crawfish or other goodies under the water. Ah, it spotted something.



It goes after it



but misses.



It had better luck a few minutes later, though, after I had moved off a bit.

Three little grebes were swimming around. I do love grebes--so cute!



I then left that area and drove over to the boat ramp to see if there were any interesting birds over there. Nope, only the typical gull perching on one leg on a piling:



I was glad I stopped. You just never know what you will see when you visit this park. There were two bald eagles in their usual spot (too far for a good photo), with one of them swooping down to the ground periodically to gather something for the nest they were building. It's always nice to see eagles!