Our sweet ride awaits, the bug-eye green boat that is the Marsh Beast. Birdwatching by airboat, oh yeah! We did that yesterday morning.
Audubon of Martin County organized the trip with Captain Kenny Elkins of Marsh Beast Airboat Tours.
Our trip was in Blue Cypress Conservation Area, west of Vero Beach, an hour north of home. INFO and MAP
We could get a really nice view of some birds from the boat, like this Anhinga at rest.
Guys fishing and an osprey nest.
Two juveniles and one adult in this photo.
Captain Kenny said this is one of the few nests with juveniles still in it.
Another airboat coming in for a look.
We saw lots of Ospreys during our trip.
Ma or Pa Osprey.
The Osprey kids’ brown feathers have more white on them than the adult.
That’s a fine young bird!
Osprey at rest. Big wings like a cloak.
Osprey in motion…almost a great photo!
We came upon some small black fuzzy creatures in the floating vegetation.
They are seemingly running on top of the water.
They were Purple Gallinule chicks, we were told.
Long legs and long toes make them look funny if you are more used to hen chicks than swamphen chicks.
Looks like a little wetland roadrunner.
There’s an adult.
A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.
On the move.
Adult coming in for a landing.
Purple Gallinule chicks.
Coming up on an alligator.
Alligator spotting is an important part of any airboat trip in Florida, right?
A Least Bittern!.. a new bird for me.
A tiny heron, furtive and surpassingly well camouflaged, the Least Bittern is one of the most difficult North American marsh birds to spot.
What a beauty!
Thanks to its habit of straddling reeds, the Least Bittern can feed in water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons.
I think this is a male, because its back and crown are almost black. Females’ crown and back are brown, according to Cornell.
A short flying hop to some new reeds.
Shake it off.
Thank you for posing, little bittern.
We watched one big gator for a while.
And he watched us.
Great Blue Heron in a mat of water hyacinth.
We investigated an area I’ll called Egret Town.
Big wings, big feathers.
Great Egret wingspan is four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half feet.
Another Common Gallinule.
It was nice to have a breeze when we were on the move on a typically warm Florida summer morning.
Nice golden slippers, Snowy Egret. Another one of those just-missed-it action photos, oh well.
Birds and beast.
Captain Kenny said they are normally here in winter, not summer.
Decorating the tree a bit early this year, in Egret Town.
Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets.
More gallinule chicks.
An older gallinule chick among the lotus?
These lovely lotus are native plants, we learned.
Anhinga in the treetops, my last bird of the trip.