The trip was not without challenges. I made my first trip into the Withlacoochee State Forest, a place known for its Bachman's Sparrows and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, among many other species. I found both, but also learned the perils of navigating the forest without benefit of four-wheel drive. My first day, I managed to stick my car but good in an undetectable soft sandy spot on a very remote forest road. That took about three hours to resolve. Also, the two days that I poked around the Withlacoochee were plagued by overcast skies and off and on rain, which made sharp, crisp photos a near impossibility. Nonetheless, I look forward to a return trip, in four-wheel drive mode.
But after the ill weather of the Withlacoochee, it was mostly warm weather and sunny skies. Following are a smattering of images.
Venice Rookery, owned by the Venice Area Audubon Society. The rookery is on a very small treed island in a little pond, and thus viewers are quite close to the action. Nesters include various egrets, herons, Anhinga, and ibis. Here, a nearly fully grown young Great Blue Heron begs for food from an adult. A second after I made this image, the young bird lunged upward, seized the adult's bill, and yanked it downward. This is how the young stimulate the adults to regurgitate food.
Burrowing Owls next, I think.