2022—Feeding in the Bulrushes

Zipping over the lily pads and through rafts of water hydrangea in an airboat on Lake Kissimmee is exhilarating. The tussocks, or floating islands as they are also known, are home to lots of species of birds and of course alligators lurk on the edges waiting for their opportunity to pounce. It’s easy to spot some birds that inhabit the tussocks but others, like the small Least Bittern, spend much of their time hidden among the bulrushes. This male Least Bittern is about the size of a Jay and blends in well on the floating island of cattails. We were lucky that Captain Mark had seen a few Least Bitterns on the lake and took us to the spot where we were most likely to find them. Maneuvering the airboat across the tussocks and through the cattails, Mark put us in the perfect position and we finally espied this male Least Bittern intent on finding its next meal. The bird was so focused on his prey, which he kept his eyes on as he tracked it from reed clump to reed clump, that it didn’t seem to notice the boat or us just a few feet away. And, his focus paid off. He snatched the dragonfly, I believe it to be a Blue Dasher, from the air while we watched.