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Thread: Gatorland Rookery Update - February 2010

  1. #1
    Mike Godwin
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    Default Gatorland Rookery Update - February 2010



    Gatorland's "Dawn to Dusk" extended hours program is now underway with the Rookery open every Wednesday - Sunday 7:30am to dusk now through July 31, 2010. Mondays and Tuesdays the Rookery will only be available during normal park hours (9-5). This past weekend (2/6 - 2/7) was our first under extended hours and despite the rather cool and breezy weather, the birds did not disappoint!

    At this point we have somewhere around 40 Great Egret nests, and they can be found displaying, courting, and nesting throughout the Rookery. Several Anhinga have also made nests directly across from the North Gazebo on the east bank, and Anhinga courtship activity is just now beginning to pick up. A pair of Limpkin are quite active throughout the day feeding on mollusks and calling back and forth. It looks like they have decided on using their same nest from the past few years, although they have been seen exploring some old nests from other birds. Small amounts of Snowies, Tricoloreds, Little Blues, and Cattles are available, and their numbers are increasing at dusk. While the Snowies are just beginning some limited courtship behavior, none of the other species have begun nesting. Of course, I'm not counting the Cormorants, as they nest all year-round, and while there are no Cormorant nests currently within the Rookery, they can be found in abundance over the South Alligator Island across from the Flamingos.

    Flocks of White Ibis are still arriving by the hundreds at dusk, and at times the air is simply alive with activity as they fly around settling into their roosting spots. The Osprey are around and have been actively feeding, as well as a pair of Night Herons (a juvenile and an adult) flying about in the morning and late afternoon. We have had one young spoonbill posing along the East Bank and several fly-overs of more, but not much consistent Spoonie activity at this point. A couple of Glossy Ibis are also flying in at dusk normally roosting along the East Bank across from the North Gazebo.

    Activity in the morning is pretty much limited to Great Egrets, Wood Storks, Limpkin, and Great Blues as most of the roosting birds head out to their respective feeding areas. Late afternoon has the most activity as the roosting birds arrive, but regardless of when you choose to come, there is always something to see!

  2. #2
    john j. henderson
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    Thanks for the update Mike, will try to make it this weekend for another visit

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    Will be there bright and early on Saturday morning Mike. :)

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    Mike, Looking forward to meeting you, and see you early Saturday am....
    Don

  5. #5
    Mike Godwin
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    Hey guys, looking forward to it... hopefully it will warm up and be dry!

  6. #6
    Mike Godwin
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    Quick update on Rookery activity -

    Great Egrets still very active, but mornings have been somewhat subdued do to all this cold weather. Females are staying put on the nests to protect their eggs, but there is still active nest building, which increases as the day progresses.

    The Limpkin have been going gangbusters lately feeding just south of the North Gazebo... I never knew a bird could eat so many clams! Very active in the morning and late afternoon.

    Wood Storks are plentiful, arriving around 8:15 and staying all day. Anhingas are courting throughout the day, although nest building for the two active nests has stopped. Today I saw a Great Blue carrying a large stick past the Rookery, but lost him going towards the South Swamp. Might be a nest somewhere outside the Rookery, which is exciting as we used to have them nest at Gatorland, but after an Audubon tagging project many years back... well, they never nested since!

    All the usual suspects, Snowy's, Tri's, Great Blues, BCH, Osprey are available in small numbers, but I haven't seen any Spoonies for a few days. Tons of white Ibis still coming in at dusk.

    Today was rather wet, although the weekend is supposed to be dry... but darned cold. What happened to our nice Florida weather? Had a gentleman in from Washington state who told me it was 4 degrees warmer in Seattle than it was in Orlando... c'mon Spring!

  7. #7
    john j. henderson
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    Looking forward to it, will be there tomorrow

    Sidd and Don; hope to see you

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    John,

    good seeing you again. Big thanks to Mike Godwin for his hospitality. We had a fantastic day.

  9. #9
    john j. henderson
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    Hi Sid, I just got home from a weekend at Gatorland. Great time and enjoyed the customer service from Mike Godwin. So good to see all this weekend.

  10. #10
    Moderator, Digital Workflow Don Lacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid Garige View Post
    John,

    good seeing you again. Big thanks to Mike Godwin for his hospitality. We had a fantastic day.
    I couldn't agree more thanks Mike for warming up a cold day:)
    Don Lacy
    You don't take a photograph, you make it - Ansel Adams
    There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs - Ansel Adams
    http://www.witnessnature.net/
    https://500px.com/lacy

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    Sid, Don L, John H, Mike W., Debbie G. & Mike G, and Michael Pancier, It was an awesome day for sure!!! Got Cold??? :eek:
    Mike Godwin, thks for the awesome hospitality, and allowing us to expereince , and making it a warmer day!. Lunch was a blast. Guess it's time to organize another trip Gang, as a season pass holder.. looks like road trip is in order! I'm thinking saturday the 26th, if anyone is up for it!
    Don
    Last edited by Don Hamilton Jr.; 02-15-2010 at 09:18 AM.

  12. #12
    Michael Pancier
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    Great seeing the BPN crew there and thanks Mike for the fine hospitality and warm coffee.

    Next time I'll bring gloves just in case. :D

  13. #13
    Mike Godwin
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    Hey Guys,

    Was certainly a pleasure having you all over to the park, despite the dadgum cold weather! Lunch was alot of fun, and it was really nice to meet some fellow BPN folks for the first time, and of course some old friends as well. I've seen a few images from the weekend already and can't wait to see more of what you guys got. I'm just now going through mine, but I've got one to share here. Sid posted a fantastic shot of the Great Egret, looking at the bird from a different perspective. I was also trying a similar approach... I call it "Behind the Veil"

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    Mike,

    "Behind the Veli" is fantastic.

  15. #15
    Mike Godwin
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    Oops, forgot to mention we have our first Great Egret babies of the year. Nest is located on the east bank across then a bit south from the North Gazebo. From this point forwards they should start popping out every few days.

    Almost forgot to say hello to the gals as well, was great seeing you ladies. Had a really nice Valentines Day dinner with Marina and Sally... thanks girls!

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    Mike, very nice! Simply Beautiful! Love the "Veil"
    Don H.

  17. #17
    john j. henderson
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    Yes, thanks for the free coffee Mike; next time I will bring donuts and a couple paks of hot dogs

    Don, if I am in state, I am up for that weekend, will let you know as we get closer to that time

  18. #18
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    okay John, we'll see what that weekend brings!!! I'm determined to get some better BIF shots... My wife says i'm bull dog determined, and on a mission....:D, i call it "Focused"!!

  19. #19
    Mike Godwin
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    Beware of the killer Night Herons! :)

    Weather has still been fairly lousy, cold and overcast, but this weekend should be nice, sunny and warm. I'll believe it when I see it. Action in the mornings still a bit subdued, but still lots of Great Egret activity throughout the day. We now have at least 3 Egret nests with chicks, lots more to come!

    Had a few eagle fly-by's but nothing too close. Adult spoonie came by today for the afternoon. Lot's of Night Herons hanging around, including a juvenile. Limpkin feeding activity has stopped as momma is now on a nest nest next to the Observation Tower. She's sitting on 3 eggs at last count, but nest is not photographable due to foliage. Male is around, but not feeding around nest. Lots of Osprey activity, and the Woodies seem to be staking out their nesting sites.

    It looks like all this cold weather may have delayed the other species nesting by several weeks. No breeding colors on the Snowies or Tri's yet. I have a feeling once we get back to normal weather wise, things are going to explode!

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