While vacationing in Florida two weeks ago, Deb and I visited the Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas Florida. The park is actually about 45 minutes North East of Orlando, approximately twenty miles East of Merritt Island. It’s a fabulous wetland area that is 1650 acres in size and contains over twenty miles of hiking trails. Bicycles are allowed however cars are not, so be prepared to do a lot of walking when you are there. Deb and I didn’t have a lot of time available so we did an enjoyable six-mile loop seeing everything from rattle snakes, to alligators, to garpike and many different bird species, including the America Bittern shown in this post.
The American Bittern is a member of the Heron Family and in the summer months can be found in Canada. It winters in the south. Although the American Bittern is a common bird it is not often seen as it has the unique ability to blend well into the reeds in which it spends most of its time. They are typically solitary birds and when approached they often stay in one spot, extend their neck and point their head straight up into the air and in doing so blend right into their surroundings. They will even slowly sway their necks back & forth simulating the reeds moving in the wind. Consequently they are birds that are more often heard than seen which makes every nature and bird photographer happy when they finally get to capture one ‘on film’.
The Bittern below didn’t follow the usual pattern and flushed when Deb and walked by without knowing it was there. In fact we were startled when it flew up about ten feet beside us and headed to another location. Fortunately I had just enough time to get about six frames of the bird as he passed by us. Having a dark back ground for one of the shots was a bonus!
The wing detail in the American Bittern is impressive whether viewed from above or below.