Seems like Municipal Parks are in most cities or towns and have more than one. Usually, there is some sort of water component there. Also, lots of trees and some shrubbery are present in a park. In addition, you can take advantage of benches and pavilions from which to comfortably observe from. Furthermore, a setting such as this can attract not only birds, but other wildlife, as well, so keep your eyes pealed for movements other than birds.
I was down in Wells Park in Melbourne, Florida. The stroll there was a bit warm, but nice nonetheless. There were some boardwalks near the pond which featured a large fountain in the center. Sounds of water droplets falling on the water definitely drew the wading birds in for sure.
Furthermore, while this was my second time ever seeing an Ibis, I never expected to see them as I did this day. Due to using a zoom lens on the camera, I was able to capture some great shots. As a result, “chatting” at the bird as I took photos, it would turn its head in different directions and seemingly pose for me. The above photo was submitted to the Facebook page of Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They selected this photo as one to go in their 2014 Community Photos – Part 2 album.
A Few Facts About the White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
- 25 inches tall
- Orangish-red curving bill and facial skin
- Long Legs match bill color
- Inhabits lowland wetlands, shallow lakes, salt and freshwater lakes, marshes, swamps, tidal mudflats, along shores
- Dines on crayfish, worms, small amphibians, small fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans
- Mostly quiet, but it will let out a “hunk, hunk, hunk” or a quiet low-pitched “uhhh” or “ehhh“ sound
- Also, can wander well out its range during summer
What’s a Pond Without Wildlife?
Naturally in Florida, I expected to run up with some wildlife…of the reptilian kind. This pond in Wells Park delivered more that I expected. First of all, turtles of any kind get my attention. However, I met some on this walk that I definitely had never seen before! Since one turtle in particular looked like a remnant of some once heralded prehistoric documentary, I paid some extra attention to it. Hence, when I saw the black dots in the pupils of the Florida Softshell Turtle, I knew I had to watch it, see how it swam and photograph it.
A Closer Look at the Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox)
- Males 6-12 inches in size
- Females 11-24 inches in size
- Flat shell covered with skin
- Inhabits lakes, streams canals and roadside ditches in Florida, Georgia, Southeast South Carolina
- Dines on snails and fish, but can eat herons, ducks
Meet the Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
This turtle was quite fun to watch amidst all the other turtles.
- 6-8 inches long
- Can live 20-30 years
- Broad red or orange stripe behind each eye
- Aquatic, but also bask in the sun
- Dines on algae, minnows, frogs and water-based vegetation
Not Bad for an Afternoon Birding Stroll!
Nice to have been able to see the White Ibises, Florida Softshell Turtles and the Red-eared Slider. I was grateful not to have ran into an alligator at the park. Munipal parks are usually well maintained and can make for a great birding adventure. Take your camera, binocs, some water to drink and a few snacks and head out. Most of all , enjoy sitting on a quiet bench or under a shady shelter and bird watch. No telling what YOU might see at your local park!