We had the opportunity to visit the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park near Augusta, GA a few weeks ago. While there, we were treated to some bird and alligator sightings including some interesting egret – Alligator interactions.
The Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is part of a complex shared with the Phinizy Center for Water Sciences. According to their website, the Phinizy Center for Water Sciences studies rivers and watersheds to understand impacts on water quality and quantity. The history of the park is fascinating. It tells the story of a stream that was once the recipient of waste from sanitary and storm sewers of Augusta and how it was cleaned up. Today, it serves as the third stage of water treatment – further filtering water cleaned by the water treatment plant.
On our visit, we were treated to adult and juvenile Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and Alligators. At one point we watched a Snowy Egret having a stare down with an alligator. After about 5 minutes, the alligator turned and left. In another incident we saw an alligator with sticks and green vegetation covering its head and snout. I was curious if alligators used camouflage when hunting. There was little information. But one article referenced an article published in the journal Ethology Ecology & Evolution by Vladimir Dinets, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. He stated that, during the nesting season for birds like egrets, alligators will cover themselves with nesting material to attract prey.
Another interesting discovery was the juvenile Little Blue Heron. Mate Rouse, a guide at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge mentioned to us that the juveniles were all white. I had buried that fact somewhere in my brain. So, on this trip, I saw some white birds that looked like egrets but didn’t look quite right. The legs were a gray-green color and the beak was more gray. So, I took photos and did some research only to discover that I wasn’t looking at egrets, I was looking at a juvenile Little Blue Heron. That moment connected the dot back to what I had been told.
I hope you enjoy the images. I hope someday you can stop at Phinizy Swamp Nature Center. There are lots of other birds there to see also.
Note: Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.