Just the mention of “The Birds” to people of my generation conjures up images from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie by the same name. I assure you, this place is the furthest place from a horror movie.
Wood storks have been commonplace this year.
Gorgeous birds of white, black, multi-color and pink dot the landscape. Some live here but many migrate from colder climates to wait out the ice and snow of the North. Actually, there are some interesting migration patterns. Many start arriving in the fall. Egrets, herons, storks, cranes, and spoonbills, to name a few have been arriving in the grass wetlands since October. Others, like the purple martins, come out of the south from Central and South America.
Great Blue Heron, Rosetta Spoonbills, Anhinga, Mocking bird, and a Red Shoulder Hawk
Last year was a dry year so the birds stayed mostly in the wet grasslands and cypress swamps. What a difference a year makes! Thanks to a wet summer season and a late hurricane to south Florida, birds were landing and feeding everywhere. Young and older ibis’ have taken up residence at Monument Lake. Sharing the pond with them, the snowy egret, great egret, and many herons also enjoyed the bountiful fall. And giving the appearance of three good sized alligators, they seemed to enjoy the extra company. After all, the gators will feast on them when hungry. Luckily for the birds, gators only eat about once a week this time of year.
To add to the Monument Lake atmosphere, there are many other birds as well. The killdeer are almost tame as they bound around our feet eating the dead bugs and worms. Cardinals and red-wing blackbirds bring a regular song to make us northerns feel right at home. And of course there is a mockingbird or two. As night falls, the cool night air is pierced with the call of several hoot owls.
Along with the owls, there are other birds of prey that are plentiful. Red shoulder hawks are loud and make their presence known. Bald eagles, although less common, fly these skies as well. And as if right on cue, an osprey comes by almost daily in the late afternoon to fish our lake. This place is pretty amazing.
To see these majestic white birds, especially the egrets, its hard to believe they were almost hunted to extinction. Two women from New York almost single-handedly saved them in the early 20th century. Read The Swamp by Michael Grunwald and google “the snowy egret feather trade”. Facinating history of south Florida.
Coming soon, more tales from the Campah!
… Next adventure; “Camping in the Everglades”
STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”!