Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beach Birding

Day Two on the beach, and the early morning light was just beautiful.  It was such a contrast to what we had left behind and such a wonderful way to begin the day, to walk on the sand and hear the surf, enjoy the birds and fresh air, and not have a care in the world!

Great Egret

Snowy Egrets were also on the beach.  They are somewhat smaller and have black bills and yellow feet, so the yellow/orange bill and black feet in the above photo are a good identifier for the Great Egret (but I don't always remember those characteristics when I'm out).

Sanderling with a catch


Brown Pelican convention


Just look at how few people were out!  It's amazing to me.  It was probably in the 50s, just after sunrise.    Locals wait until later in the morning for it to warm up before they venture out.  I felt like I had to take advantage of every possible moment outdoors!

a late sleeper

White Ibis

Loggerhead Shrike (life bird!)

Look carefully at the bill of this bird, and you will notice a small hook on the end.  This bird is a carnivore and eats small birds, mice, lizards and insects.  It kills them by impaling them on thorns or barbed wire.  Ouch.  I was thrilled to get such a good look at it and saw several over the course of our vacation.

I saw the following Peregrine Falcon land on a sill of one of the high rises.  I took a couple photos and a few quick looks through the binoculars.  People may be suspicious of binoculars directed towards the windows of homes, so I try to be considerate.  

Peregrine Falcon

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

I saw a lot of these fast-moving little gnatcatchers while in Florida.  In some spots, they were joined by warblers.  This one was flitting from branch to branch in a tree near the high rises.

Palm Warbler

There were lots of Palm Warblers in the shrubby growth between the beach and the high rises.  I even had one fly-by Gulf Fritillary butterfly here too.

Snowy Egret

Isn't that one gorgeous bird?

 Ospreys survey their territory from the nest on the beach

Ospreys mating


Black Skimmer in flight

In front of the building, there is a small garden area next to tennis courts, where I took the following photos.

Brown Anole

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
(I was told this was the most common woodpecker in Florida.)

It took me a while to spot a Northern Cardinal in this tree!  
I could hear him but he blended in quite nicely with the blooms.

A little later while driving through town I made George turn around and pull in at Dick's Sporting Goods, not to shop but because the roofline was sporting at least 2 dozen Turkey Vultures!  I did not get any distance shots that show all of them, but it was quite a sight (if you like vultures)!

Turkey Vulture

I also spotted this Belted Kingfisher while I was at Dick's Sporting Goods parking lot.

Belted Kingfisher

I was finding birds everywhere we went.  The first night, while we were eating at a restaurant (and I had my back to the window), our friends advised me that there was a Cattle Egret walking in the intersection of two busy streets.  It then perched on top of a parked car for a few minutes.  I did not go anywhere without my camera after that.  Sometimes egrets were perched on the traffic light posts.  I saw Belted Kingfishers perched alongside busy highways and of course shorebirds making their way along roadside ditches and waterways.  The most common birds perched on wires were Boat-Tailed Grackles, Mourning Doves, and Common Grackles.  No boring Rock Pigeons here.

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