Tag Archives: Florida

Egyptian geese on the golf course

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Egyptian geese are native to Africa and were sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

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Here they are on the Ocean Club Golf Course at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort.

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According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Egyptian geese have been seen in Florida since the 1960s.

Species are present but not confirmed to be breeding. Population persists only with repeated introductions and/or escapes of individuals.

Native to North Africa and Syria. This is probably the most commonly seen exotic goose species in the wild in Florida, but it rarely breeds successfully (Florida BBA). The sightings in Florida represent escapees.

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Pretty colors. I saw five of these geese while I was out on a “bird walk” yesterday in the late morning. I have seen them on or at the edge of the golf course nearly every time I have driven past too. I guess they live there.

High wire ibis

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You usually find White Ibis poking their beaks around in the dirt of a front lawn or golf course, or wading in shallow water. But sometimes they perch on wires like perching birds instead of wading birds.

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I saw this flock along A1A near the entrance to Stuart Beach today while out for a bird walk.

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Audubon Field Guide: White Ibis 

One of the most numerous wading birds in Florida, and common elsewhere in the southeast. Highly sociable at all seasons, roosting and feeding in flocks, nesting in large colonies.

‘Tis the season for sanderlings

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Sanderling corps de ballet rehearses for The Crabcracker.

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Lots of sanderlings just south of Jensen Beach the other day.

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Getting organized.

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Here we go.

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Wikipedia:

The sanderling (Calidris alba) is a small wading bird. The name derives from Old English sand-yrðling, “sand-ploughman”. The genus name is from Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, a term used by Aristotle for some grey-coloured waterside birds. The specific alba is Latin for “white”.

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Sanderlings feed on invertebrate prey buried in the sand in the upper intertidal zone. In North America, this diet largely consists of the isopods Excirolana linguifrons, Excirolana kincaidii, and the mole crab, Emerita analoga. When the tide is out, these crustaceans live in burrows some way beneath the surface. When the tide comes in, they move into the upper layers of sand and feed on the plankton and detritus that washes over them with each wave. They then burrow rapidly down again as the water retreats. They leave no marks on the surface, so the sanderlings hunt for them by plunging their beaks into the sand at random, consuming whatever they find. Their bills can penetrate only 2 or 3 cm (0.79 or 1.18 in) and as the water swirls around and retreats, the sand is softer; this makes it easier for the birds’ beaks to penetrate further.

Little Blue Heron

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Little Blue Heron on a piling behind the Snook Nook, Jensen Beach. I was there yesterday to buy my husband a gift certificate for his birthday.

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Gulls and pelicans on the pier, attracted perhaps by the pungent odor of bait.

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Lizard near the parking lot.

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From the Snook Nook you can see the bridge from Jensen Beach to Hutchinson Island.

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A small, dark heron arrayed in moody blues and purples, the Little Blue Heron is a common but inconspicuous resident of marshes and estuaries in the Southeast. They stalk shallow waters for small fish and amphibians, adopting a quiet, methodical approach that can make these gorgeous herons surprisingly easy to overlook at first glance.

And, my, what big feet they have.

Surf-fishing cormorant

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

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

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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.

The bird with the old man hairdo

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Brown Pelican and Royal Tern perched on pilings above the Indian River Lagoon, near Chastain Beach, Stuart.

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Incoming.

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Sunday on the dock.

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The black feathers on their heads remind me of an old man’s haircut, particularly my great-grandfather Pop-Pop.

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I like to watch them fish, with their fast aerial dives. But it’s easier to get a picture when they are hanging out on the dock.

Sanderling walk

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What bird is this?

I parked at Santa Lucea Beach on Hutchinson Island and walked south around 1 p.m. yesterday.

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A sandpiper doing that sandpiper thing.

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Sandpiper sees seashell down by the seashore.

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This was a Sanderling, I discovered.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Sanderling:

The Sanderling’s black legs blur as it runs back and forth on the beach, picking or probing for tiny prey in the wet sand left by receding waves. Sanderlings are medium-sized “peep” sandpipers recognizable by their pale nonbreeding plumage, black legs and bill, and obsessive wave-chasing habits.

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Hard not to sift and sort through all these pretty shells, but I didn’t want to fill my pockets and I did want to find some birds.

The strange rocks along this Treasure Coast beach are part of the Anastasia Formation. It is “is composed of interbedded sands and coquina limestones. The formation is an orangish brown, soft to moderately hard, coquina of whole and fragmented mollusk shells within sand often cemented by sparry calcite.”

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Just out past the breakers, a man in a boat. Not a calm day, but it seems it is often breezy and rough offshore here. Keep going straight east out past that boat and you’d get to the northernmost island in the Bahamas, Walker Cay, about 100 miles out into the Atlantic, I’d guess.

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Dead crab. Pretty colors.

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A Magnificent Frigatebird flew north past me.

A long-winged, fork-tailed bird of tropical oceans, the Magnificent Frigatebird is an agile flier that snatches food off the surface of the ocean and steals food from other birds.

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Coming out of an incomplete swooping dive.

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I saw five or six Sanderlings on my walk, all of them alone.

Audubon Field Guide, Sanderling Diet:

Mostly sand crabs and other invertebrates. Feeds on a wide variety of small creatures on beach, including sand crabs, amphipods, isopods, insects, marine worms, small mollusks; also may eat some carrion. Wintering birds on southern coasts may eat corn chips and other junk food left by people. In spring, may feed heavily on eggs of horseshoe crab. On tundra, feeds mostly on flies and other insects, also some seeds, algae, and leaves.

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Okay, I did pick up the pink one.

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The beach was not a busy place on a cloudy Thursday in December.

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Cornell Lab: “The Sanderling is one of the world’s most widespread shorebirds. Though they nest only in the High Arctic, in fall and winter you can find them on nearly all temperate and tropical sandy beaches throughout the world.”

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Sweet solitary Sanderling stands still on Anastasia rock.

A Sanderling is a movie star. Audubon.org: Behind the Scenes of Piper, Pixar’s New Short Film

Sanderlings spend a lot of time in the ocean, scuttling in and out of the water in search of tiny invertebrates buried in the sand. Even downy hatchlings must immediately learn to fend for themselves and feed between unrelenting waves. So the last thing any Sanderling needs is a crippling phobia of the ocean. But such is the lot of the young heroine in Pixar’s newest short, Piper. Directed by Alan Barillaro, the six-minute film preceding Finding Dory concerns the trials of a young chick as she conquers her natural habitat, and greatest fear.

The idea came to Barillaro during his morning jogs in the Bay Area, where he would see hordes of the little speckled birds scampering to feed amidst giant kelp, resembling little wind-up toys. He found this collective feeding frenzy charming, but he couldn’t quite shake his impression that these shorebirds were afraid of, well, the shore.
To create Piper, Barillaro and his entire team entered the Sanderlings’ world. They spent weekends on beaches all over the Bay Area, meeting at 5 a.m. on a dusty road under a bridge in search of the birds. “Half of us were chasing around different beaches and calling each other on cell phones until we found a flock we could get close to,” Barillaro says. “It became this treasure hunt.”

 

First morning in Florida

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Brown Pelican above the Indian River Lagoon. As you can see, we’re not in New Hampshire anymore.

Yesterday was our first full day in our new home, a little green concrete-block-and-stucco house built in 1969. So much to do, boxes everywhere, but I made time for a morning bird walk.

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I tried for a couple of years to get a good shot of a Belted Kingfisher. We used to see one or two at our pond in warmer (no ice) months. They were flighty little alarmists there. Here one is posed nicely, almost mellowly!, in sunshine on a bridge railing.

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The Ernest Lyons Bridge connects our new hometown of Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the Atlantic Coast. The area near the west side of the bridge has lot of Ospreys. First you hear them, with their high, piercing, almost plaintive whistles.

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Then you seen them fishing, or looking for fish.

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Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

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Osprey on the bridge railing, doing well among humans.

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We visited this area in April, July and September and I always see ospreys here. In New Hampshire they were migratory. Looks like we can enjoy them year-round in Florida, woohoo!..

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Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds’ feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.

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Wonder what that fish is thinking.

White ibis morning

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Good morning, marsh. (Yesterday, from the covered deck of our rental in Cedar Key.)

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It was a White Ibis morning. I propped my elbows on the porch railing to take pictures.

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Nice little flock, with lots of juveniles. This photo shows about one-third of the number I could see.

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And one Snowy Egret

Among the most elegant of the herons, the slender Snowy Egret sets off immaculate white plumage with black legs and brilliant yellow feet. Those feet seem to play a role in stirring up or herding small aquatic animals as the egret forages. Breeding Snowy Egrets grow filmy, curving plumes that once fetched astronomical prices in the fashion industry, endangering the species. Early conservationists rallied to protect egrets by the early twentieth century, and this species is once again a common sight in shallow coastal wetlands.

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Here’s a White Ibis young ‘un.

From All About Birds: Other Names

Bec croche, L’Ibis blanc, Petit flaman (French)
Corocoro blanco, Coco blanco, Ibis blanco, Coclito blanco (Spanish)

white ibis

Wikipedia:

The American white ibis (Eudocimus albus) is a species of bird in the ibis family, Threskiornithidae. It is found from the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the United States south through most of the coastal New World tropics. This particular ibis is a medium-sized bird with an overall white plumage, bright red-orange down-curved bill and long legs, and black wing tips that are usually only visible in flight. Males are larger and have longer bills than females. The breeding range runs along the Gulf and Atlantic Coast, and the coasts of Mexico and Central America. Outside the breeding period, the range extends further inland in North America and also includes the Caribbean.

And…

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic prey, such as insects and small fishes. Crayfish are its preferred food in most regions, but it can adjust its diet according to the habitat and prey abundance. It is a tactile, non-visual forager, whose main foraging behavior is probing with its beak at the bottom of shallow water to feel form, and to capture its prey.

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And what a strange beak it is. It seems to become one with its face.

The White Ibis has a cheerful look, both elegant and a bit comical.

More photos in Flickr Album: Marsh House

The color green

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Feral parrot in South Beach. White-eyed Parakeet?

There were a pair in this coconut palm, very sweet on each other. I was walking round in the Art Deco district for a pleasant couple of hours. Miami Beach really does have amazing white coral sand on its beaches and beautiful warm blue, green, turquoise ocean water. A wonderful break from endless white.

Dinner at the food trucks in North Beach with my pilot husband on a layover. The trucks are there once a month. A great outdoor dinner by the ocean.

Wish me birding luck in the Everglades today! Home tomorrow.