More pics from Wakodahatchee

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Great Egret at Wakodahatchee.

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Looking down from the boardwalk we could see a Purple Gallinule.

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Lurking in the marshes of the extreme southeastern U.S. lives one of the most vividly colored birds in all of North America. Purple Gallinules combine cherry red, sky blue, moss green, aquamarine, indigo, violet, and school-bus yellow, a color palette that blends surprisingly well with tropical and subtropical wetlands. Watch for these long-legged, long-toed birds stepping gingerly across water lilies and other floating vegetation as they hunt frogs and invertebrates or pick at tubers.

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Blue frontal shield with a yellow-tipped red bill, very colorful!

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Look for Purple Gallinules in dense freshwater wetlands in the extreme southeastern U.S. and farther south—sites that have both emergent and submerged vegetation such as water lilies, lotus, water hyacinth, and hydrilla. They can be fairly easy to spot as they walk on floating vegetation.

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Wood Stork on a nest.

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Nice view of nesting birds from this gazebo.

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Wakodahatchee in nesting season

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Hey, Cattle Egret… it’s time for your makeover…

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Oh you sexy thing!

First photo was taken last fall. Second photo was taken a couple of days ago at the amazing and renowned Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach. It was our first visit during nesting season and there was LOTS to see. I took a thousand photos, for real. I will be posting some of the good ones over a few days.

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I had noticed a bit of buff coloring on breeding Cattle Egrets before but never have I seen the candy corn bill and purple “lores” just in front of the eyes. Eyes are a different color too!

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A boardwalk through the wetlands gets you closer to the birds.

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This female Anhinga is also in breeding plumage with a blue ring around her eyes and a greenish tinge to her lores. Her chin is black too.

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She let me stand right next to her and take this glamour shot.

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Hello, bird.

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Glossy Ibis chick!

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Chubby and fluffy like chick, but with a bit of ibis curve to the (striped) bill already.

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Great Egret chicks watches the skies for the return of mom/ dad.

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I played hide-and-seek with a Green Heron.

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Black-bellied Whistling Duck at rest.

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They have longer legs than you might guess.

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Another a water’s edge.

 

The latest from Bird Island

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Story time at Bird Island, it looks like.

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Wood Storks together.

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We watched from a boat.

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Roseate Spoonbill comes on the scene.

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Audubon

Very common in parts of the southeast until the 1860s, spoonbills were virtually eliminated from the United States as a side-effect of the destruction of wader colonies by plume hunters. Began to re-colonize Texas and Florida early in 20th century. Still uncommon and local, vulnerable to degradation of feeding and nesting habitats.

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They have a darker pink sort of epaulet on their shoulders.

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View from the top of the mangroves, with Brown Pelicans too.

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Juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds and one male off to the left.

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Spoonbill on Bird Island beach.

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Brown Pelican with fuzzy chicks.

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Frigatebirds and a couple of cormorants. The northwest corner of the island is their territory.

Warblers are passing through

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Mixed flocks of migrating warblers graced us with their presence these past few days.

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It was easy to learn this one a few years ago: American Redstart, so boldly black and orange.

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This Black-throated Blue Warbler isn’t too hard to see because it visits lower shrubbery down near eye level.

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Northern Parula was curious and stayed right in a neighbor’s tree while I shot a few pics.

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I heard this bird before I saw it. Its song is a “rising buzzy trill with a final sharp note”.

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All the warblers in this post are males, easier to spot because of colors and sounds.

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Cornell …

The key to finding a Northern Parula during the breeding season is to look for forests draped with long, wispy plants like Spanish moss and “old man’s beard.” Northern Parulas tend to stick to the canopy, which means you may end up with a bit of “warbler neck.” Luckily during migration they also forage lower in the forest giving your neck a break. Parulas sing a lot during migration—so listen up for their distinctive buzzy trill.

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Cape May Warbler. I’ve seen them before but needed an ID doublecheck from What’s This Bird. I guess I haven’t gotten this bird into long-term memory yet. That’s one negative to my method of taking a bunch of photos then IDing the birds using online sources.

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Must learn my warblers.

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Looking up at a warbler… butt.

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The Cape May Warbler breeds across the boreal forest of Canada and the northern United States, where the fortunes of its populations are largely tied to the availability of spruce budworms, its preferred food. Striking in appearance but poorly understood, the species spends its winters in the West Indies, collecting nectar with its unique curled, semitubular tongue.

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These four species of warblers I managed to photograph for this post all winter in the Caribbean. I wonder if they traveled together the whole way?

Audubon.org: Flyways of the Americas. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is featured for the Atlantic Flyway.

Crows v. hawk

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A Red-tailed Hawk was perched atop our Norfolk Island pine a couple of days ago.

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Some wings!

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It was being harried by the neighborhood Fish Crows and finally lifted off.

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Crows seem pretty territorial at this time of year.

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I was out in the driveway with my camera, watching.

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Some sanderlings I saw

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I walked from Santa Lucea Beach almost to the House of Refuge.

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Busy beach Saturday, not a lot of parking left along the southern end of Hutchinson Island. Lots of people.

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I focused on the peeps.

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Sanderlings running.

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Sanderling feeding.

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Sanderling at rest.

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Ring-billed Gull (second winter?)

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Brown Pelicans were fishing.

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Dive.

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Sanderling loaf.

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Sanderlings three.

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A little bird and shelly grains of sand.

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Ruddy Turnstone bathing in a tide pool.

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Ruddy Turnstone rocks.

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Heading south towards House of Refuge.

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Camo.

 

Blue-headed vireo

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Here is the Blue-headed Vireo I watched for a few minutes this morning in an old live oak tree near the Henry Sewall House in Indian RiverSide Park.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love the writing at Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds? …

The Blue-headed Vireo offers a pleasing palette of moss green, bluish gray, and greenish yellow, set off by bold white “spectacles” (the eyering plus a “loral” spot next to the bill), throat, and belly. The wings and tail are a sharp black and white. Like most larger vireos, Blue-headed forages for insects and their larvae in trees, moving deliberately along branches, where it can be challenging to spot. Males sing a slow, cheerful carol, often the first indication of the species’ presence in a forest.

That “slow cheerful carol” was what got me to look up into the tree I was passing under.

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Nearby, a gray squirrel.

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It’s spring in Florida.

Bird Island and (un)Common Eider

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Many birds in one place, that’s Bird Island.

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Great Blue Heron gets in Brown Pelican’s space.

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Pelican relocates.

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So many birds to watch. Counting them is hard, but we did it on Friday – me with binoculars and camera, husband piloting a small center-console boat from our boat club. I called out species and numbers and he tallied them on a notepad where I had already written names of birds we were likely to see.

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I submitted an eBird checklist next morning: LINK

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Pelican chick and parent.

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Counting nesting Wood Storks and Brown Pelicans is like counting stars in the sky.

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Cormorant fishing.

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Rock jetties built on either side of the north end of the island help keep it from eroding, I believe.

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Great Blue.

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A couple of juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds were over in the pelican section of the mangroves.

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Nearby, adult male frigatebirds were roosting. A couple looked like they had crash-landed, but I suppose they were sunning.

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Just around the bend we found the bird we were looking for: a Common Eider!

We had seen this bird the day before while boating with friends. I recognized it from when we lived in New Hampshire, where they were common along the coast.

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Common Eiders are very Uncommon in Florida. eBird shows just a few sightings a year.

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A colorful duck of the northern seacoasts, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere.

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This looks like a non-breeding male: ID photos.

What motivated this bird to visit Florida in March? Was it caught in a storm?

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Coming back around the northwest corner of the island, the GBH was still there.

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A new male frigatebird arrived on the scene.

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The juveniles took off.

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They flew around, seeming reluctant to land while the adult male was circling.

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Soon there were three juveniles in the air.

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Watching frigatebirds soar is like watching kites without strings, flying themselves.

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As we rounded the southern end of the island, we saw the eider duck bobbing on the waters of the Indian River Lagoon.

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Last time I blogged eiders was June 2016 in New Hampshire, when I photographed females and ducklings: Pop up ducks. And in March of 2016 when I watched a male Common Eider as well as a Common Loon and a Snowy Owl: Drive-by coastal birding.