Imagine my surprise when I parked the car at Kraft Azalea Garden in Winter Park, FL, (on our recent trip to the Orlando area) and noticed a photographer aiming his lens at the trees instead of at the azaleas we'd come to see. I looked up to find an amazing surprise: a colony of nesting egrets.
They were actively building nests (a male typically builds or begins to build a nest before finding a mate), flying around chasing each other either to defend their nests or to try to mate (males and females are identical, so it was tough to tell what was going on), displaying and sitting atop their nests.
During breeding season, egrets develop neon green masks around their eyes and beaks, as well as beautiful plumage.
Collecting nest-building supplies while displaying plumage.
A graceful takeoff.
Two egrets aggressively dive-bombing each other (mating? defending a nest? fighting over a gal?).
The five-acre park is nestled in a gorgeous neighborhood on Lake Maitland.
This little lady had a blast exploring the park with her sister.
Dashing around the massive cypress trees.
We were just in time to catch the tail-end of the azalea bloom.
The girls also enjoyed watching kayakers and other boaters from the dock.
If you find yourself in the Orlando area, I'd highly recommend visiting this little park. Bring your camera and a picnic (and appropriate shoes for dashing around amidst the cypress).
In the mood for more wildlife viewing? Check out my post on manatees at the incredible Blue Spring State Park.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.