Photographing birds from a well-situated hide at Rainey Lake.

Photographing birds from a well-situated hide at Rainey Lake with Lumix DMC FZ70.

A snapped telephoto shot of three Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea alaja) coming in to roost at the Great Egret Nursery at Rainey Lake in Tensas River NWR.

A snapped telephoto shot of three Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea alaja) coming in to roost at the Great Egret Nursery at Rainey Lake in Tensas River NWR. Photo and copyright C. Paxton

Wildlife Encounter with Roseate Spoonbills

There’s nothing like getting out into nature to cheer the spirit. One place you can go to be sure of some interesting encounters is Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana.

While photographing some fine Great White Egrets (Ardea alba) nesting at Rainey Lake. We were stunned by the graceful overflight of some bright pink water birds.

My first thought was “Flamingos?” , but on their second circling flight before settling to roost we noted their unique spatulate bills and short legs.

These beauties were Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea alaja) and we watched them, fascinated, through gaps in the foliage as they wheeled then settled upon exposed topmost branches of a tall tree! What remarkable birds.

Roseate Spoonbills roosting at Rainey Lake, Tensas River NWR. Photo and copyright K. Paxton

Roseate Spoonbills roosting at Rainey Lake, Tensas River NWR. Photo and copyright K. Paxton Lumix DMC FZ70 at 120 x zoom with tripod support.

We fell in love. These Spoonbills have all the grace of the ibises, the vivid pink plumage of flamingos and the curious nasal implements of the Paddlefish (also a denizen of the South’s great waterways). We carefully sought the correct focus through the foliage and Kimmie was diligent enough to get the manual focus right after I had turned the air quite blue and given up my initial vain attempts to bring these extraordinary birds into sharp definition.

It was hard not to laugh out loud when they fully extend their necks and nibble at their breast feathers when grooming.

A Roseate Spoonbill fully extending its neck and nibbling feathers when grooming.

A Roseate Spoonbill fully extending its neck and nibbling feathers when grooming. C.Paxton photo and copyright. 120 x zoom (digital zoom).

A Roseate Spoonbill roosting at Tensas River, National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana.

A Roseate Spoonbill roosting at Tensas River, National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. 60 x zoom.

Great Egret on the nest. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

Great Egret on the nest. Taken on Lumix DMC FZ70. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

A Great (White) Egret, grooming its impressive nuptial plumes, known as  'aigettes'. These were popular adornments for ladies' hats in the C19th and it was overhunting of these birds for the fashion trade that stimulated people to create the earliest protected areas.

A Great (White) Egret, grooming its impressive nuptial plumes, known as ‘aigrettes’. These were popular adornments for ladies’ hats in the C19th and it was over-hunting of these birds for the fashion trade that stimulated people to create the earliest protected areas.