For as long as I have been going to Juanita Park, I have been hearing about the mandarin duck. We have tons of wood ducks but there is one mandarin that lives in the bay. Everyone talked about whether they had seen it. However, it was never wherever I went. Finally I broke that “duck” (apologies for the awful pun). It was hanging out in the bay in nice lighting conditions and seemed busy playing with some root. After this visit, I was back a little while later and there he was again. I guess I am trusted enough now for him to hang out!
The great blue herons are a regular feature of Juanita Bay but I had seen a few local photographers had managed to get shots of a green heron. By the time I next visited the bay, I figured I might have missed out but was rather pleased when someone said the heron was in amongst the grasses. It did mean he was hard to photograph since he was well concealed. I figured this would be all I could get but there was some other creature in the grass – a rodent of some sort I think. This spooked the heron and it flew out on to the log nearby and I was able to get a clear shot. He squats down a bit when resting but, when relocating, the length of the neck was clear. That is what allows the hunting to be successful when he lunges at his prey.
I was walking back to the car in the park when I saw the light on this one tree making it look really attractive in the evening conditions. I only had the 500mm with me so there was only one option. Time to shoot a pano and stitch the whole thing together when I got home. Handholding a pano with the 500mm is not ideal but it seemed to work out okay.
There are some kingfishers that live around Juanita Bay but I have never previously been even remotely close to them. They seemed to live around the outlet of the creek and head straight out into the bay so they were but a speck from where I was. However, for some reason, a pair of them were out and about. When I was on one pier, one flew right past me and I was too slow to realize what it was. However, luck was on my side.
It was heading for another one over the other side of the inlet and they then started spiraling around before heading back towards me and then straight overhead. I was lucky enough to get a few shots of them as they went by. I headed around the inlet later on and they were flying again. This time one landed on the deck where I had previously been. No doubt, that wouldn’t have happened if anyone had still been there but it was funny to see.
While I am wandering around Juanita Bay park, I meet plenty of people that are very knowledgeable about birds. I am not so I tend to follow what others are looking at and shooting. I came across a woman starting up a tree at a bird that she informed me was a sapsucker. She could have been telling me a tale for all I know. It was at an awkward angle but I tried to get some shots of it anyway. When I came back, she was gone but it was still there. It had moved to a slightly more convenient angle for a photo but not by much. For you twitchers out there, is this a sapsucker?
When watching the herons hunting in Juanita Bay, you never know exactly what they are going to catch. Something like a stickleback will be a relatively easy thing for them to swallow once they have caught it. On one occasion, though, a heron caught something a little longer. I am not good with different fish so can’t tell you what it was but it had a long body and a tail with some power. The heron had the front of the fish in its beak but the back end was still flailing around. The heron was hoping to win the battle but the fish made sure to give it some healthy whacks around the head before it finally succumbed.
Despite having lived in the area for over five years, for some reason, we had never been to St Edward State Park before. We went for a walk there that will get a separate post. In the center of the park is the old Seminary building which has now been converted into a hotel. With a nice sunny day to light it, it looked like a pretty interesting structure. No doubt, it has some interesting history too!
While I was down at Juanita Bay one weekend, a killdeer was hanging out on a muddy flat near me. It was busy extracting worms from the mud to snack on. The worms were not totally onboard with this plan and they were doing their best to stay in the mud. Some times the killdeer won the struggle and sometimes the worm did!
Herons hunting for their food have been on here before. I have often been trying to get good shots of them making the strike as they go after a fish in the shallows. The effort to then eat that fish has also been covered here. Therefore, I am going to be repetitive today. I happened to be a lot closer than usual to a heron when it was fishing and I got some good close up shots of its head as it swallowed its meal. Looks like the fish didn’t have much of a chance!
Earlier in the year, I got to see the red winged blackbirds nesting in Juanita Bay Park and then defending their nest from threats real and perceived. The humans were not causing them any problems but the herons were happy to much on a baby blackbird. It wasn’t long before these babies had fledged and were out with their parents. As with many baby birds, they were very demanding regarding food and not interested in getting it themselves. I came across this parent and child along one of the boardwalks. The chick looks like it should be able to take care of finding food but instead it just hung around making a ton of noise while the parent was busy trying to find something to keep it quiet!