The fishing pier, little beach and waters of the Indian River Lagoon behind the Snook Nook bait and tackle shop is an eBird hotspot that also falls within my 5-mile radius. After breakfast at the delicious Mary’s Gourmet Kitchen yesterday (open at 7 a.m. for early birds) we traveled a short distance north for a look-see at the ‘Nook.
Osprey on sea grapes at the edge of the lagoon, making some noise.
I’m pretty sure this is a Reddish Egret, on a quick fly by. The current U.S. population, located on the Atlantic coast in Florida and all around the Gulf Coast, is roughly 2,000 pairs, according to Audubon.
On the dock, just one bird. So much for Hotspot!
It looks like a “second winter” Laughing Gull. Photo at Cornell.
Laughing Gulls are year-round residents here. I remember when I was a kid visiting my grandparents at the Jersey Shore we would only see these gulls in summertime. Their distinctive laughing call is a soundtrack to happy childhood beach and boardwalk memories.
Next a small, spotted wading bird flew into the scene.
Definitely a rare Dalmatian Heron, right?
Just kidding. It’s a young Blue Heron growing up and molting from white to “blue.”
Little Blue Herons may gain a survival advantage by wearing white during their first year of life. Immature birds are likelier than their blue elders to be tolerated by Snowy Egrets—and in the egrets’ company, they catch more fish. Mingling in mixed-species flocks of white herons, immature Little Blue Herons probably also acquire extra protection against predators.
With their patchy white-and-blue appearance, Little Blue Herons in transition from the white first-year stage to blue adult plumage are often referred to as “Calico,” “Pied,” or “Piebald.”
When I was a young girl going through my horse phase I remember learning the odd words “pied” and “piebald” for that particular black-and-white horse color.
The famous Pied Piper from the Middle Ages tale is “pied” because of his multicolored clothing.
This pied dog is a Dalmatian, of course.
Pied little blue in the IRL.
Wonderful photos and description at Mia McPherson’s On The Wing: Age Related Color Morphs of Little Blue Herons
Wading bird wading, with the causeway to the bridge from the Jensen Beach mainland to Hutchinson Island beyond. Layers of moody tropically-moist storm clouds tell the story: rainy season has begun.