Monday, November 24, 2014

Harns Marsh with the Caloosa Bird Club

It had been 4 months since my last visit at Harns Marsh - way too long. We got an early start today with the hopes of seeing a King Rail that has been reported to have been there, a few folks from the club heard it but no one saw it. However as birding goes, there is never a bad day while birding and today was no exception, come along and see.
The sun was about to rise and we could see many ducks species - a few Ring-necked Ducks are always a pretty sight.

A few Sandhill Cranes flew overhead while belting out their lovely chorus.

The star of the day - a Snail Kite. He gave us some great looks while he flew and dove down for succulent snails which he carried off to a nearby snag where he savored his hard earned meal.

What a nice pair of Ring-necked Duck.

A female Snail Kite produced a lively conversation while some of us wondered whether it was a Harrier or not - our books and bird apps came in handy for comparison.

A Cattle Egret - the smallest in the Egret family coming in at 20".

Harns Marsh is usually only opened for foot traffic, the club made previous arrangements for us to be able to drive through - it is a 4 mile loop. We combined people in cars and caravan our way through while stopping several times for ample observation. A scope is highly recommended for good views.

A pair of Sandhill Cranes with two White Ibis and a Cattle Egret.

Along the outer edge of Harns Marsh - some private properties and several horses were observed as well. We were hoping to find the Red-headed Woodpecker which has been seen in the past but today they were nowhere to be found.

More chorus going on - I love these guys.

A Lesser Yellowleg, a Killdeer, A Least Sandpiper and a Western Sandpiper - what a nice variety!

A Glossy Ibis - beautiful in person but difficult to photograph.

On the way home we made a quick stop at a member's house, these folks have been setting up bird feeders for years and they are rewarded with yearly returns of beautiful Painted Buntings and American Goldfinch.

And this, folks, conclude the birding trip for today....stay tune for more :). My E-Bird List for today at Harns Marsh
Sorry I can't share where I saw the American Goldfinch and Painted Buntings since it is at someone's private home.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Curlew at Bunche Beach with Lee Co Bird Patrol

Awwww....finally our Florida type weather has returned and we are off to the flats on Bunche Beach. It is low tide and the Lee Co Bird Patrol is having their monthly walk - let's go!
A nice group gathered up by the picnic tables and we headed to the East side of the beach in search of the Curlew that has been sighted lately - apparently a regular that spends its winters here - sweet!
There were several groups of shorebirds and we spent some time observing as well as listening to Charlie & Walt as they gave us a few tips for identification. A Short-billed Dowitcher is pictured here - numerous black spots on sides, whitish belly, also a white stripe up the back which is visible while in flight. Notice too the long, straight bill which is used for feeding in mud or shallow water - they probe with a rapid jabbing motion.

A Semi-palmated Plover - the dark back of this plover distinguishes this species from Piping and Snowy. This Plover always has a complete breast band - a good tip to remember.

A Marbled Godwit - A tawny brown molted with black sandpiper, a long upturned bill with hues of bright pink. The legs are black - a great hint when its head is tucked in because they look so similar to the Long-billed Curlew which has grayer legs.

The White-morph of the Reddish Egret. It resembles immature Little Blue Heron or Snowy Egret but note the larger size, longer bill and dark legs and feet - also, the tell tale is its behavior while feeding.

An adult Little Blue Heron (a juvenile would be all white), on the prowl for some food - it has very deliberate slow feeding behavior.

The star of the day - A Long Billed Curlew.

Notice how similar the plumage coloring is and how the grey leg color differs from the Marbled Godwit.

The Long-billed Curlew's bill length varies greatly and I would have had a great deal of difficulty making the identification if I had been alone because to me it looked like a Whimbrel- I am grateful for our leaders today and for pointing out the clues that leads to proper i.d.

One of those tricky sandpiper to identify - a Western Sandpiper?

The Curlew works really hard to feed itself - the size of its food is minuscule - can you see it in its bill?

And look how deep some of it is, not an easy job.

At the tip - Willets, Dowitchers, White-morphed Reddish Egret, and more. Fort Myers Beach can be seen from this location as well as the boats heading out to the Gulf.

Short-billed Dowitchers with Marbled Godwits.

The White morph of the Reddish Egret doing its famous dance.

More Dowitchers and Godwits.

And the sweet Piping Plover - Very pale above with orange legs. Thicker black bill during the winter, during breeding period the bill is orange and black.
 One thing is certain, birding with shorebirds is not as clear as black and white - there is much more for me to learn and that, my friends, is one of the fun parts of birding.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Canada Goose in S.W. Florida

It had been several days since I visited the Bailey Tract, the weather is gray and it is misty, so I geared up and headed out.
Some of my first sightings were Blue Wing Teal.

And then.....I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this Canada, what a surprise!

It seemed to be comfortable in our environment - happily feeding on some submerged vegetation.

I'm happy to see this and think to myself....this weather is perfect for those fowls and I'm blessed to be able to watch them.

The Hooded Merganser is still here - the Bailey Tract must agree with her.

More Blue-winged Teal - 2 males, 1 female

A Mottled Duck

More Blue-winged Teals.

I had to return and observe the Canada Goose some more, I watched it rest while reflecting on the last time that I saw a Canada Goose .... last winter with my good friends, Carol & John ....oddly enough, at the time, the Goose had been sighted in Marco Island.

A Coot and a Common Gallinule

Checking out this Common Gallinule along the roots of the Red Mangrove.

"Well, Hello there! Might you be lost?"

"Well, perhaps....but I kind of like it here."

It seemed to be right at home with the Commong Gallinules and Tricolored Heron.

On my way out of the Bailey Tract, Jim Boughton pointed out the Wilson Snipe hanging by the shoreline.

Unless it is singing and getting flushed from vegetation, this Wilson Snipe is easily camouflaged making it hard to notice.

Well, folks, it might have been rainy and gloomy but my heart was filled with sunshine - it was a great morning being surrounded by my feathered friends.