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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wild Things in my Backyard

The creatures in my Florida yard are not the scary kind though we did have a resident alligator in an apartment pond a few years ago.  The wild things in my house yard are pretty tame, but they are a great source of amusement and interest.  The main draw for them is a retention pond fed by storm drains.  About 75x40 yards, it attracts an amazing array of wildlife.  When I see something interesting there, I run out with my cell phone to capture a photo.

The pond in January

Birds are most numerous.  We've had geese nest under the trees, osprey diving for fish, and hawks and bittern roosting in the tree branches.

Grumpy looking bittern

Hawk possibly wanting a fish

                                                      Mother duck with ducklings

The geese are ever present.   Note the turtle on the bank
observing this gaggle. I've learned that geese are very
good parents.  The Daddy Goose is always present and
protective.  Father Ducks, on the other hand, disappear
and are never around for protection.  The goslings stay
with the parents until they are ready to search for their 
own mates.

Four ibis in the foreground, a great blue heron
in the middle and two wood storks at the back right, 
intently look for fish.

The most exotic bird I've seen in the back yard is a roseate spoonbill.  He is exotic because they usually do not live as far north as Jacksonville Beach. He didn't stay very long the day I saw him and he has never returned. 

Roseate Spoonbill

An otter comes to the pond every few months, more in the summer.  He stays for a while, swims the length of the pond several times, catches a fish or two and goes back into the storm drain opening.  We don't know where he lives.  Our pond is just a little side trip for him.  Once he brought a wife and a baby.

                                      An otter pokes his head over the bank.

                                      Otter sunning on the bank.  This was a photo
                                      op for the neighborhood.

Florida has much wildlife, but habitat is disappearing and so goes the wildlife.  We feel honored that so many wild things still come to our yard.  

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