My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wood Storks All Around

A lot of people have been reporting wood stork sightings, here at the Refuge, at High Island which is only a few miles away, and at other places near here.  But I hadn't seen any until this weekend. On Friday, I worked at the new Visitor Center and an intern who also works there  said she had seen wood storks around Shoveler Pond.  So I did a quick pass on the way home and found one wood stork.

These teenagers have faces only a mother could love

Saturday I came in early and went on a wood stork hunt before working in the old visitor center. I found 5 of them in with at least sixty great egrets. They flew ahead of me as I drove around Shoveler Pond, then landed and then flew again, until they finally circled back to their favorite site near where the culvert is in the canal on the south side of Shoveler Pond.

Wood storks spend a lot of time just standing around

They still look ungainly as they leap into the  air but when they get really high, they are beautiful gliders

Monday morning, I got to the access  road to the refuge just before sunrise and found it completely covered with cows. An entire herd of over 100 cows had gotten out of their pasture.  I was urgently trying finding someone to get them rounded up, and had even gone to the visitor center to find emergency numbers; then come back and turned them all back into the refuge, off the main road, before a staff member reminded me that there was a cattle guard at that intersection.

A few of the escapees with their attendant cattle egrets
Later I followed a cattle trailer around Shoveler Pond, thinking I would eventually get pictures of the roundup, but they were neither catching nor releasing cattle. But I did find the wood stork population had grown to thirty and, instead of just associating with great egrets, they also had a few roseate spoonbills, white ibis, and lots of snowy egrets sharing their fishing hole.

Wood stork with great egret

Two white ibis that were with the egret/wood stork group

Roseate spoonbill and black-necked stilt feeding with the wood storks. (The truck mirror is fogging the right corner.)

Wood storks breed in Florida and Georgia.  They used to breed in other southern states but I think they no longer do.  They also breed in Mexico and Central America. Apparently, the wood storks that visit us are tourists from Mexico.  The ones that breed in Florida are supposed to stay further east. I saw my first wood storks in Arkansas and I think I saw some adult wood storks in Florida once.  But I'd love to see them breeding. But I am enjoying watching them fly, stand around, and feed here.