Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday surprises at the Sanibel Garden Preserve

A peaceful Sunday this morning with the trail, my friend Adele and our feathered friends, of course.
One of those feathered friend played hard to see and kept staying just out of sight....."Aha! I see you now!"

I finally got a good look of his belly - enough to help me identify "her" as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The yellowish hues of her belly, the white edges of her wings, her white throat and wide black band on her neck were the magic clues that I needed.....the male would have sported a bright red throat.

The Eastern Phoebe on the other hand was right out in the open - looking this way....

and that way....

with a glint of an eye sparkle.

Then, the Osprey - oh my! - there it was with its fresh catch.....so fresh that the tail kept on flipping.

As I uploaded my photos the fish became in focus - making me wonder whether it was a Jack or Angel fish. So, my son the fisherman in the family, came to the rescue with identification....

A Lookdown - I googled it and found out that this fish naturally occurs in the Gulf of Mexico - I learn something new every day! Thank you Tony.

After spending 3 hours on the trail it was time to say "farewell" and until the next time.....another great day....life is good!

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Bird Count with SanCap Audubon

This is my third time joining the SanCap Audubon group for the Christmas Bird Count. This year I actually felt like I was contributing because I could recognize and name the birds.
Since I'm an early bird, I decided to go through Ding Darling Wildlife refuge before joining the group at 7:45a.m. 
What a beautiful sunrise with the promises of a great day! I drove through the Wildlife Drive and then met up with my group for the count. Sue Harpham has been leading this particular area and this is the area that I've helped with for the past 2 years, today we were joined by Brita (hope I got the spelling right).

Our first noteworthy sighting was the White-winged Dove - noteworthy because we had 9 of them in a tree at one time and it happened to be a lifer for Brita.

It turns out that the White-winged Dove is mainly in Texas and a few small colonies appear in our area. I am lucky if I see 3-4 per year and this outing alone produced over 15.

What a nice bunch they make - the clear blue sky also helps to intensify their honey glow.

One of many Ospreys that was sighted - this Osprey is a female .... telltale sign is the beaded necklace on her chest.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker in a Norfolk Tree just above the Bougainvilla bush - look closely and you'll see the red hues on the woodpecker's belly.

Our state bird - Northern Mockingbird

Around these beautiful blooms - the Northern Mockingbird sure looks fantastic......amazing what a little color will do for you.

As we rounded up the corner and started a tally of the species that we had acquired - we were blessed with two additions - an Eastern Phoebe

and a beautiful Prairie that kept on flitting by.

The Palm Warbler looked us over as he sat in the Gumbo Limbo tree aka the tourist tree....its bark peels like a sunburn. Well, folks, another great day birding in beautiful sunny Florida. My E-Bird List
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sandpiper, Merganser and Kingfisher

My weekly visit to Ding Darling Wildlife Drive provided me with some nice surprises, take a look...
The tides were not as low as I had anticipated and as such, much of the birds were further away from the shore and very few sandpipers in sight. This Short-billed Dowitcher lingered long enough for some good looks.

A few miles down the Wildlife Drive, I was pleased to discover a pair of Hooded Merganser.


In the bird/duck world, the male is the more colorful of the pair - though I have to say here that the female is quite attractive, don't you think?

A bit further still, I took a stroll down the Wulfert Point and this is the view I feasted my eyes on. While I was taking in the dolphin's move, a Green Heron flew by and a Belted Kingfisher landed nearby.....

a female - sporting a reddish-brown belly band, the male has an all white belly. In this specie, the female is more colorful than the male.


On my way back, I was pleased to see that the Spotted Sandpiper is still hanging around here - minus his summer spots.


A spider web caught the sun rays and produced a rainbow of colors above the boardwalk along the Caloosa trail.

Ahhhh, what a nice way to end the drive with a Magnificent Frigatebird - a large, black, soaring seabird, an adult male with his bright red throat pouch.
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Otter, Warbler & Gator - oh my

What a beautiful day - the sun is shining, it is warm with a slight breeze and the Bailey Tract is calling my name.....let's go....
After chatting with a few folks from different part of the country - I made my way to the North Dike where I was able to see many warblers - the insects were abundant and the birds were happy - a Palm Warbler taking a breather in between food courses.

Then, behind me, I heard a raucous in the bushes followed by water splashing loudly - I moved up the trail where I could see what was happening when an Otter came up - it kept returning and looking back - my guess was that it had been chased by a gator.

After that encounter, he didn't seem to mind my presence. We spent a few moments together before the Otter exited the Bailey Tract and headed toward Island Inn Road.



Back to warbler watching - where I was able to see many more species - some of which I wasn't able to photograph - like the Black & White, the Yellow-rumped and an Orange-crowned.

As I made the loop along the South Dike by the boardwalk, I was able to observe this beautiful Tricolored Heron.



Not too far was a gator sunning his back while cooling his belly.


Check the pattern details on his front legs....

and how about this belly pattern....look how it seems as if a fine net is holding everything together (gator skin) - I had never noticed that before.

A Gulf Frittilary - feasting on the local wildflowers.

What a great afternoon this turned out to be, I was blessed with 30 species of birds besides the Otter, gator and butterflies....I love the Bailey Tract! Check my E-Bird List for details.
 

Christmas Bird Count with the Caloosa Bird Club

Brrr....the prospect of walking through muddy and wet salt flats in 45 degrees was daunting to say the least - I put my big girl pants on and off I went. I was in good company with Charlie Ewell, Karl Werner, Susan Cohen and Libby Wolfe - all excellent birders and I've learned something from each one of them. Thank you!
Our first sought after specie was a success....
A Saltmarsh Sparrow, check! We ended up spending about 2 hours there and saw a total of 37 species (see my E-Bird List)

Off we went to the Causeway - looking for a Peregrine Falcon....

Check! We also scoped the area and were able to find Common Loons, Mergansers & Horned Grebes among 35 species (see my E-Bird List)

Next on our list of places to be was Bunche Beach - we spent 3 hours there - our first sighting a Ruddy Turnstone.

A very special sighting - one of many Marbled Godwit

Black Skimmers with the Causeway in the background - leading to Sanibel Island.

Piping Plovers wearing their bands and flags.

They were much faster than I and their numbers eluded me.

The Long-billed Curlew came to be counted too.


He surely sparkles.

A Wilson Plover enjoying a Mangrove Crab.


The amusement of the day was to watch these sandpipers eating from a bowl size cavity in a mound of sand as if someone had put food there for them.

Everyone is equal here and all are happy to be able to share a meal.... Sanderling, Least Sandpiper and Western Sandpipers.

Short-billed Dowitcher came to investigate and share the bounty.

A Great Blue Heron came to seal the day. Another list for this portion - 45 species in all (see my E-Bird List). A fantastic day was had by all, we put forth an effort and truly enjoyed the experience.