Reddish egrets are my favorite wading birds. Unlike most other waders, they have no patience as they hunt for prey in the shallow back bays in tropical and subtropical coastal waters. They run and dance and cavort, pivoting on a dime, flapping their wings and sometimes shading with their wings to block the glare on the water. These photos were taken in December 2016 at Merritt Island NWR in Florida.
A gallery of the residents of a Florida wading bird rookery, featuring babies of all ages, and the adults that support them, including snowy egrets with their gaudy displays; colorful roseate spoonbills; tri-colored herons; wood storks and great egrets. There are also a few alligators. Why? Wading birds nest in gator-filled swamps, because the gators protect the nests from marauding raccoons. The gators do occasionally catch a baby bird that has fallen from the nest, as you will see in the last photo.
The ACE Basin is a huge estuarine system in southeastern South Carolina, named for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers that carry fresh water from the coastal plain to the waters of Port Royal Sound. ACE Basin is a prime birding area, thanks to its vast marshes and old rice impoundments. In winter, ACE Basin is home to migrants from the far north such as tundra swans, white pelicans and American avocets. Year-round it is home to a wide range of herons, egrets and other wading and shorebirds.
Images of two grazing species that are often found together in the bush veldt: wildebeests and zebras. Both are prized by predators like lions and leopards. Zebras are more skittish and can provide an early warning when predators are on the prowl. Zebras don't mind hanging out with wildebeests because predators prefer the taste of wildebeest. Go figure.