Orlando Wetlands Park has turned into a nursery this spring with lots of babies across 1,650 acres.
I visited OWP close to sunset on Tuesday and ended up seeing three sets of youngsters – baby Roseate Spoonbills, baby Great Egrets and, of course, the popular Sandhill Crane colts.
The Roseate babies (first pointed out to me by colleague Austin Fuller – thanks!) are a bit difficult to spot. They are in a large nest to the east of the Cypress Boardwalk in a Sabal Palm, but fronds and other vegetation obstruct the view.
It appears there are at least two babies in the nest. Their little spoonbill beaks are bright orange, and overall they are certainly pretty in pink.
The Great Egret babies are more visible from the boardwalk and have grown since I photographed them a week earlier.
Their mom looked very harried near sunset as the youngsters were demanding attention while she was trying to clean their nest by removing some branches and twigs.
Finally, an update on the Sandhill Crane colts.
I wasn’t planning to photograph them Tuesday evening, but as I leaving the park the crane family was walking on the berm near their nest as the sun was setting. That beam is also the main trail people use to walk around the park.
OWP has posted signs telling people to stay at least 20 feet away from the cranes to give them some space and limit harassment from too many photographers. (Which I applaud.)
At this time of day, there was no one around but me. I moved off the berm going to the opposite side from the cranes and stepped down toward a pond on my left – keeping a wary eye for any nearby alligators or snakes.
Moving away from the cranes and going down in elevation actually put me nearly at eye level with the cranes, and the sun backlit one of the colts beautifully. I had to pause for a moment and snap a few pictures before heading on my way.
Sometimes doing the right thing pays off.
On a somewhat concerning note, I only saw one of the two colts. I am hoping the the other had already made its way to the nest or was out of view on the other side of the berm.
More photos of all the babies from Tuesday evening in the gallery below. Double-click on images to launch the gallery for larger photos.