It was a bit breezy which kept us close to shore since there were some novices in our group. The sunset’s afterglow was stunning, the conversations were fascinating, and we were escorted around the bay by a couple of dolphins. What a fantastic way to spend an evening!
I’ve had limited success photographing them in the past so I was thrilled that this mature, adult bird was intently feeding and completely ignored me. This single-mindedness was probably due to the fact that nesting season has begun and, if this bird is lucky, it will soon be feeding several hungry hatchlings.
While reading up on the species I learned that these intelligent avians carefully select their nest trees, preferring ones in alligator occupied territory. Apparently, gators are very good at keeping egg-stealing raccoons away. As they say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Hatchling success is important since this bird was recently on the Endangered Species List. Thankfully, they have rebounded and Florida has the largest population. In 2019, 1,000 nesting pairs were documented here in the Tampa Bay area, the densest in the state. I don’t blame them, this is a beautiful place. Like I said, smart birds!