Northern Cottonmouth

We went to the Palencia boardwalk over the saltwater marsh today to get some drone pictures during the King Tide (which is an exceptionally high tide) for the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. We needed to take the pictures at the height of the tide but could see some thunderstorms in the forecast. We went a little early to avoid them. We finished up just as we heard thunder north of us.

We take most of our photos at low tide, so it was pretty cool to be out there at high tide. There were more birds than usual. We saw about 80 white ibises. While walking out to where the trail ends at a pier over the Tolomato River, we came upon a northern cottonmouth sunning on the trail. It did not like us hanging around and left.

Northern cottonmouth sunning on the sand.

As we got closer to the pier, I saw marsh wrens in the grasses. They are hard to photograph and I was hopeful I would get lucky. But, I heard a splash and saw a clapper rail. The clapper rails are more likely to be seen when the tide rises very high because they get on the wrack or the grasses to keep out of the water. Otherwise, you hear them but do not see them. They make a sound that reminds me of laughing. I spent so much time with the clapper rail that I never got an image of a marsh wren.

Clapper rail among the marsh grasses.

Regis took some drone video at the entrance to the pier.

On the way back to the car, we caught up with a great egret who caught a nice sized fish.

Great egret with a fish.
Great egret with a bulge in its throat from swallowing a fish.

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