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.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yearly trip to STA 5 in Hendry Co

Oh Boy! It is Saturday morning with a crisp 48 degree - chilly for Florida weather if you ask me - but nevertheless it didn't dampen my enthusiasm to head out, pick up Libby and head off to Immokalee. We met up with the Caloosa Group, combined people in cars and headed out to our destination....and off we go.
After being on the road for 2 hours +, we arrived at the check in station, listened to instruction and set out with great anticipation.

It wasn't long before we saw tons of ducks and coots and among them were several Purple Gallinules - they sure are colorful and fun to watch with their big feet walking on lily pads. 

Watching from above and looking for its next prey was a Peregrine Falcon.

Here's another colorful one - a Swamp Hen.


A quick visit from an Eastern Meadowlark didn't go unnoticed, we were blessed with its song too.


A Brown-headed Cowbird, what a nice surprise.

There were plenty of Swallows swooping by - some took a rest on the power line before resuming their flight - a Northern Rough-winged Swallow is watching us.

We had several Black-crowned Night Herons popping out in the open. I love their beady red eyes.

Several gators were spotted - I venture to say that they are well fed.


We watched the White Pelicans as they circled and herded fish for consumption.


Empty clam and mussel shells - some tasty meal I'm sure.

Caspian Terns and Forster Terns were among some White Pelicans and Ducks.


An American Bittern stayed long enough for me to capture its photo.

A special sighting of two Tropical Kingbird was had - this one granted us good views on our way out.
Many more species were seen than photographed - see my E-bird List for all the species.
A long day, a great time and lots of beautiful birds were seen, I am blessed to be granted these opportunities.