Tag Archives: Double-Crested Cormorant

The pelican scoop

Florida, starring Brown Pelicans!

I feel like I don’t take enough pictures of pelicans relative to how often I see them, which is pretty much daily because I live in Sewall’s Point, a peninsula connected by bridges to the mainland and a barrier island (Hutchinson).

So, here: a bounty of Pelicanus occidentalis.

Also known as a pod, a pouch, a scoop or a squadron of pelicans.

Audubon.org…

An unmistakable bird of coastal waters. Groups of Brown Pelicans fly low over the waves in single file, flapping and gliding in unison. Their feeding behavior is spectacular, as they plunge headlong into the water in pursuit of fish. The current abundance of this species in the United States represents a success story for conservationists, who succeeded in halting the use of DDT and other persistent pesticides here; as recently as the early 1970s, the Brown Pelican was seriously endangered.

We were stopping by the Fort Pierce Inlet at the north end of Hutchinson Island on a Sunday drive. It was too windy and rough to walk out on the jetty.

So we walked west along the south-side inlet shoreline to see what we could see.

The inlet connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. There is no development at the ocean end of the inlet on either side. The north side is preserved as a state park.

Fishing was the main focus, of humans and birds alike.

Fish were feeding and breaking on the surface all over the place.

Here’s a Double-crested Cormorant, popping up from underwater fishing.

Royal Tern on high.

Forages mostly by hovering over water and plunging to catch prey just below surface. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/royal-tern

Brown Pelicans go even more “all in”.

Forages by diving from the air, from as high as 60′ above water, plunging into water headfirst and coming to surface with fish in bill. Tilts bill down to drain water out of pouch, then tosses head back to swallow. Will scavenge at times and will become tame, approaching fishermen for handouts.https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/brown-pelican#

They often look like they’re crash landing face first into salt water.

This guy had a fish on his line and was steadily working it closer and ready to gaff it when a pelican tried to steal it. He waved his gaffe and the pelican backed off, but not before trying to dive underwater and grab it.

View toward the north side jetty. Lots of birds, lots of fish.

And lots of wind.

Sometimes I look at pelicans and wonder how they stay in the air. I mean, their wings are really big, but so are their heads and bills. So big.

But they are master flyers. I like when they soar down low over the water to use what human aviators (like my husband) call “ground effect” to stay effortlessly aloft.

This juvenile Brown Pelican is banded. You can just barely see the band on the near leg, which is tucked up so nice and aerodynamically.

It was a good day for fishing, even for the humans.

I think it’s a Crevalle Jack. This man kept his fish.

I have eaten this kind of jack, very, very fresh, about 20 minutes after my husband caught it from the bridge near our house. He filleted it into chunks, I marinated it for about 10 minutes in lime juice, then cooked it in a cast iron pan with butter and Cajun seasonings. Served over white rice, it was delicious. It has dark red flesh like a tuna.

Snook (a fish I had never heard of until I moved here) are one of the most beloved fish for inshore Florida fishermen. But snook are not always in season (including right now): FWC regulations.

So gaze longingly at the snook and go catch a jack.

Fort Pierce Inlet is a nice destination, easily accessible, and a great place to walk and bird-watch.

I even spent a little time with a charming pair of Eurasian-collared Doves, fishing for love.

Coo.

The latest from Bird Island

DSC_4158

Story time at Bird Island, it looks like.

DSC_4159

Wood Storks together.

DSC_4160

We watched from a boat.

DSC_4167

Roseate Spoonbill comes on the scene.

DSC_4168

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.

DSC_4169

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

DSC_4173

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

DSC_4176

Juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds and one male off to the left.

DSC_4180

Spoonbill on Bird Island beach.

DSC_4183

Brown Pelican with fuzzy chicks.

DSC_4191

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

Bird Island is for the birds

IMG_7369-2

Bird Island sign, in the Indian River Lagoon just off Sewall’s Point, Florida.

IMG_7370-2

Double-crested Cormorant on top. Probably a juvenile, with the buff-colored breast and neck.

IMG_7374-2

The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.

IMG_7375-2

A sleek, aquadynamic shape.

Birds of the refuge, Sanibel

IMG_5961-2

This morning around 8 a.m. we drove the one-way road through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge here on Sanibel Island, where we are staying for a few days.

IMG_5965-2

We saw this Yellow-crowned Night Heron in mangroves near a short boardwalk.

IMG_5966-2

Look at that red eye.

IMG_5985-2

It was overcast and the light wasn’t great, especially looking up, but heck! here’s a Red-bellied Woodpecker anyway.

IMG_5989-2

Lots of nonchalant rabbits, munching here and there.

IMG_5998-2

Dogs are allowed in the refuge, in cars or on leashes, so we brought ours.  He’s cool with birds but the rabbits were torture.

IMG_6005-2

Spotted Sandpiper, my second I’ve ever IDed. The first was two days ago.

IMG_6011-2

John spotted it from pretty far off.

IMG_6030-2

A flock of Roseate Spoonbills and one cormorant looked like they were just waking up.

IMG_6031-2

The refuge is home for over 245 species of birds, according the the Ding Darling website. The Roseate Spoonbills are one of the Big 5 that attract birders to the refuge. We saw some birders with scopes set up, watching this flock.

IMG_6038-2

One by one, some of the spoonbills took off and flew away. We were watching them from the observation tower.

IMG_6046-2

Bird coming towards us over the water.

IMG_6048-2

Green Heron perched just below the tower. You can really see some green in this one.

IMG_6055-2

Another colored heron, the Little Blue, was waiting just at the bottom of the tower.

IMG_6059-2

There is something a tiny bit comical about this bird. It seems poised between different feelings, stuck in indecision.

IMG_6061-2

Hey, bird.

IMG_6071-2

A decent look at the spoonbill’s bill.

IMG_6083-2

On the side of the road in the mangroves, a Snowy Egret was standing on one leg as birds are sometimes wont to do. Love the bright yellow feet.

IMG_6091-2

Not many cars on a July morning. That one ahead was driving slowly past a white bird.

IMG_6092-2

It was a Great Egret stalking along in the grass.

IMG_6097-2

When the car drove on, it walked towards us.

IMG_6098-2IMG_6101-2IMG_6103-2IMG_6104-2

And past.

IMG_6107-2

The egret was keeping an eye out for lizards and other delicacies.

Birds were my tasty breakfast delicacies! Figuratively, of course.

Fort Morgan

cormorant1

The nonchalant cormorant.

cormorant2

Looking north toward Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan, Alabama.

fort morgan

We drove from Gulf Shores out to Fort Morgan because we do love a nice peninsula. Breezy and chilly, but sunny.

platform

Oil rigs in the bay.

shrimp boats

Shrimp boats too.

cormorant3

Which way to the beach? More Double-crested Cormorants.

dogbeach1

There is a dog beach at Fort Morgan. Radar was happy about that. He loves the beach. We went on the beach across from our rental too, because it’s off season and nobody was around.

dogbeach2

Nothing like a good stick.

Sometimes it’s hard to get good bird photos when traveling with a dog, especially one shaped like a bit like a wolf. At least he (mostly) doesn’t chase birds. He prefers squirrels and balls.

bufflehead

Just offshore were 7 or 8 Bufflehead ducks, disappearing now and then under water. This is a male.

bufflehead2

This is a female.

A buoyant, large-headed duck that abruptly vanishes and resurfaces as it feeds, the tiny Bufflehead spends winters bobbing in bays, estuaries, reservoirs, and lakes. Males are striking black-and white from a distance. A closer look at the head shows glossy green and purple setting off the striking white patch. Females are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek.

bufflehead3

Bufflehead chase.

birdsign

On land at Fort Morgan, an Amy-attracting sign.

killdeer1

The migrants included my old friends the Killdeer, bobbing, running, calling and flying…

killdeer2

Killdeer flies off.

butterbutt

And my other old friends the Yellow-rumped Warblers.

yellow-rumped warbler

Show us your butt!

Surf-fishing cormorant

img_4928-2

Moody morning skies and tossing sea yesterday. Bird flies low.

img_4930-2

It’s a cormorant, landing in the churning surf.

img_4931-2

The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.

img_4932-2

This one was under water more than above water. Finally caught a fish, swallowed it, and flew off.

img_4944-2

Also spotted on Santa Lucea Beach yesterday morning: a flock of fishermen. I spoke with one of them. He said they were catching big bluefish. He said he cleans them, freezes them, and when he goes home to Michigan he has a big fish fry for 200 friends. Nice tradition!

img_4947-2

Looking south: a beach house, the House of Refuge tower, and a lone fisherman on the rocks.

img_4949-1

It was too rough to swim but Radar had fun chasing the ball in the sand. It rained on us a few minutes after this photo.

Do not fetch the bird

img_2959

We surprised a cormorant, fishing in a spot right near where we were walking on the old rail bed through Hampton Marsh.

img_2962

Instead of flying away, the cormorant paddled off. The dog decided to give chase.

img_2963

The bird hit the spot where the tidal current rips fast under an old bridge.

img_2965

The dog is a good swimmer but I thought that current might be too much for him and he’d be swept down the river through the marsh then out to sea.

“Radar, come back!”

img_2966

Good boy.

Sea seekers

Gull

Gull (Herring?)

Not exactly in my backyard, but just a few miles away.

Eighty degrees inland and 70 right along the water today, with sunny skies, low humidity, and big waves rolling in for the surfers. It was impossible to resist the coast.

The Wall, North Beach

The Wall, North Beach in Hampton, N.H.

surfer Bass Beach

A few miles north, a surfer at Bass Beach.

Cormorant

A lone cormorant was fishing nearby.

cormorant

These sleek, black seabirds look like they are wearing wetsuits.

cormorant

Dive!

From All About Birds:

The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.