Great Egret and chick at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, end of April.
A wonderful place to get a good look at nesting birds.
Hungry and fierce member of the next generation.
Great Egret and chick at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, end of April.
A wonderful place to get a good look at nesting birds.
Hungry and fierce member of the next generation.
Great Egret at Wakodahatchee.
Looking down from the boardwalk we could see a Purple Gallinule.
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.
Blue frontal shield with a yellow-tipped red bill, very colorful!
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.
Wood Stork on a nest.
Nice view of nesting birds from this gazebo.
Hey, Cattle Egret… it’s time for your makeover…
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.
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!
A boardwalk through the wetlands gets you closer to the birds.
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.
She let me stand right next to her and take this glamour shot.
Glossy Ibis chick!
Chubby and fluffy like chick, but with a bit of ibis curve to the (striped) bill already.
Great Egret chicks watches the skies for the return of mom/ dad.
I played hide-and-seek with a Green Heron.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck at rest.
They have longer legs than you might guess.
Another a water’s edge.
I often wander the Haney Creek North section but a few days ago I finally explored “East” shown on the map above highlighted in yellow. It’s located in Stuart, Florida north of the St. Lucie River.
A trail leads away from the pull-off area along Dixie Highway.
We can thank Stuart City Commissioner Jeffrey Krauskopf for helping save this land from development. There is a freshwater marsh on the right hand side here, and brackish swamp with mangroves on the other.
An Osprey rested on top of a pine tree.
Enjoy this good bird news: Ospreys Have Made a Remarkable Recovery
Blue flag? It used to bloom by our New Hampshire pond in spring. I didn’t know it grew in this part of Florida.
Boardwalk with plenty of cautionary signs.
Got a good look at a young Little Blue Heron. Yes, they start off as Little White Herons.
Maple? Also haven’t noticed that around here. Maybe swamp maple… which also grew by our old pond 1400 miles north of here.
Palm Warbler in the trees.
Unless you live in Canada, spring, fall, and winter are your best times to see Palm Warblers. They spend the winters in the Caribbean and in a narrow strip along the southeastern United States and occasionally along the West Coast. They’re a fairly common early migrant across much of the East, reaching New England by mid-to-late April. They start slowly heading south in late August.
Weedy fields, forest edges, and scrubby areas are great places to look for them during migration and winter. Look through groups of birds foraging on the ground—they’re often with sparrows, juncos, and Yellow-rumped Warblers—so watch for their characteristic tail wagging to pull them out of the crowd. They also forage in low shrubs and isolated trees in open areas, where they sometimes sally out for insects like a flycatcher. Palm Warblers typically aren’t skittish, so if you find one, you should have enough time to get a good look.
I like the way the light hit the bird’s eye in this shot.
Also spotted a Downy Woodpecker, near the southern end of its range too.
View walking back on the boardwalk over freshwater.
Great Blue Heron, with “civilization” beyond.
American Kestrel looks fierce and cute at the same time.
I saw this bird and others on Saturday during a solo 1.1-mile walk in the Martin County section of the wonderfully unique Savannas Preserve, off Jensen Beach Boulevard.
Entrance fee is $3, self service. There is a picnic pavilion and a bathroom building.
The main trail heads off into the wild.
Holly berries gave a festive, late autumn look to an otherwise not very autumnal landscape – at least for those of us who have lived in north most of our lives. This is Dahoon holly, I think.
Great Egret heading in the other direction.
Main trail goes straight. This time I took the side trail to the right, heading east towards a lower, wetter area.
Northern Mockingbird posed on a stump.
Wildflowers in bloom.
A group of Wood Storks was feeding near a Great Egret.
Holly and a nest box, at the edge of the wetlands.
Wood Storks took off and then I counted them (two others went in another direction).
My eBird checklist for the walk is HERE.
Great Blue Heron was standing very still.
A came upon a large trap. I guessed it might be for wild pigs, which can be such a problem in Florida.
A pair of Anhingas.
Raccoon has been here.
This part of the trail was a bit muddy from recent rains.
Mystery track. Sort of cat-like and cat-sized. Domestic cat out for a prowl? Fox?
Sort of boring yet oddly beautiful landscape, to me.
Silvery saw palmettos between the freshwater marsh grass and slash pines.
I heard this kestrel calling before I saw it.
American Kestrels have a fairly limited set of calls, but the most common one is a loud, excited series of 3-6 klee! or killy! notes lasting just over a second. It’s distinctive and an excellent way to find these birds. You may also hear two other common calls: a long whine that can last 1–2 minutes, heard in birds that are courting or feeding fledglings, and a fast chitter, usually used by both sexes in friendly interactions.
A bit windy that day.
North America’s littlest falcon, the American Kestrel packs a predator’s fierce intensity into its small body. It’s one of the most colorful of all raptors: the male’s slate-blue head and wings contrast elegantly with his rusty-red back and tail; the female has the same warm reddish on her wings, back, and tail. Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.
Common Gallinule at Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve, in West Palm Beach.
John looks out.
On Sunday my husband and I drove 45 minutes south of our Stuart home to the monthly Cars & Coffee event at Palm Beach Outlets to look at cool vintage and custom cars. Afterwards, we went to a place that is the opposite of crowds, cars, noise and sunbaked parking lots.
“Moorhen.” An old guy with a big camera and a practical wide-brimmed hat pointed to the gallinule and called it the old-timey-birdwatcher name.
Mostly we had the place to ourselves. Thank you, whoever built this boardwalk. It’s the only way I’m ever going to travel through such wet woods and fields, in Florida, in August.
We skipped the nature center in favor of getting right out in nature.
I think this is a Common Arrowhead flower, Sagittaria latifolia, aka duck potato.
Lovely pond cypress trees, rooted in a few inches of water and a lot of inches of the finest Florida muck. Air plants grow on them quite decoratively.
Dahoon holly bore fruit abundantly.
Here is a helpful post on the Florida Native Plant Society blog, for those of us who know more about birds than plants: Discovering Grassy Waters Preserve.
This wetland is an example of doing the right thing to build a sustainable urban environment. The naturally clean waters of the preserve are supplying the drinking water for West Palm Beach and helping keep the aquifer healthy. At the same time, all these wetland plant and wildlife species have a place to thrive and townsfolk have easy access to this beautiful place.
Walking out into the “grassy waters” you can see how this was (is?) part of the original northern Everglades. From the Grassy Waters Conservancy…
Historically, the Grassy Waters area was part of the northern Everglades watershed and headwaters of the Loxahatchee River. In the 1890’s, approximately 100 square miles was purchased by Henry Flagler to supply water to West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. In 1955, the City of West Palm Beach purchased what remained of that system. In 1964, the Florida Legislature recognized the area’s uniqueness and importance, and created the Water Catchment Area affording 19 square miles special protection. The U.S. EPA has identified portions of Grassy Waters as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance.Today the Water Catchment Area along with other adjacent lands make up Grassy Waters Preserve, an approximately 24 square mile natural area located in and owned by the City of West Palm Beach. It remains the principle source of the water for West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach, and is unique in that it is a surface water supply.
The Preserve is almost 50 percent of the land area of the City and contains miles of hiking and biking trails, a boardwalk, and a nature center which is currently being expanded, where the City provides environmental education programs.
The Preserve remains a pristine remnant of the original Everglades ecosystem and critical component in maintaining water levels for environmentally sensitive areas. In addition to its historical significance and key role in the regional water supply, it is one of the largest areas of undisturbed wetlands in Palm Beach County, allowing it to be a refuge for many threatened and endangered species including the Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, and Everglades Snail Kite.
Peace of the Everglades.
View over grassy waters.
Zoom to: Great Egret.
I’ve been seeing these swallows for about a week now, over parking lots, airports, open fields. I’ve gotten a good look at them, but not a good photo – they are too fast! I’m pretty sure they are Barn Swallows, migrating through.
Glistening cobalt blue above and tawny below, Barn Swallows dart gracefully over fields, barnyards, and open water in search of flying insect prey. Look for the long, deeply forked tail that streams out behind this agile flyer and sets it apart from all other North American swallows. Barn Swallows often cruise low, flying just a few inches above the ground or water.
Yet another crappy bird photo. Endure.
Cool story at Audubon: Ken Kaufman’s Notebook: The Barn Swallow Is Slowly Conquering the World.
This bigass grasshopper is actually a fine fat example of an Eastern Lubber Grasshopper.
The Eastern lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera (Beauvois)) is a large colorful flightless grasshopper that often comes to the attention of Florida homeowners.
Shrubbery along the boardwalk: I noticed cocoplum and wax myrtle, both of which I admire. We planted some cocoplum in our backyard last year. I just bought a couple of wax myrtles for the front yard (and the birds) a couple of days ago.
Wax myrtle and saw palmetto, among other lush green things. Not to bitch (and we’re as guilty as the next Florida homeowner) but it’s really nice to take a break from the flat-topped hedges, emerald lawns, tropical ornamentals and constant grinding whine of landscaping machines and see how native, wild Florida plants arrange themselves and grow (so quietly).
“Ah, you may sit under them, yes. They cast a good shadow, cold as well-water; but that’s the trouble, they tempt you to sleep. And you must never, for any reason, sleep beneath a cypress.’ He paused, stroked his moustache, waited for me to ask why, and then went on: ‘Why? Why? Because if you did you would be changed when you woke. Yes, the black cypresses, they are dangerous. While you sleep, their roots grow into your brains and steal them, and when you wake up you are mad, head as empty as a whistle.’ I asked whether it was only the cypress that could do that or did it apply to other trees. ‘No, only the cypress,’ said the old man, peering up fiercely at the trees above me as though to see whether they were listening; ‘only the cypress is the thief of intelligence. So be warned, little lord, and don’t sleep here.”(A favorite book! It’s set in Greece. I first read it when I was 12 or 13 and I love it still.)
A sign near the Sanibel City Pier.
Wonder if the Osprey is eating one of the Frequently Caught.
Birds were standing around on the beach, waiting for people to catch fish.
Not this bird, though.
In a tree near the pier, a couple of egrets arranged themselves for comparison, Great and Snowy.
In another branch, a juvenile Reddish Egret!
Perched on a railing right next to me, a young Snowy Egret.
Egret and husband on the city pier, yesterday.
Great Egret in a tree.
The Reddish Egret at surf’s edge with a Snowy.
The Snowy on the railing had funny legs, black in front, yellow in back. I guess it is changing from young to adult.
Birds looking for bait.
Snowy Egret is letting me stand next to it.
See what I mean about the legs.
Here’s the Snowy Egret legs I’m used to.
Side by side comparison.
Great Egret still in the tree, looking sort of slinky yet majestic.
Osprey still working on that fish.
Love this shot, and that sea eagle’s eye!
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.
We saw this Yellow-crowned Night Heron in mangroves near a short boardwalk.
Look at that red eye.
It was overcast and the light wasn’t great, especially looking up, but heck! here’s a Red-bellied Woodpecker anyway.
Lots of nonchalant rabbits, munching here and there.
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.
Spotted Sandpiper, my second I’ve ever IDed. The first was two days ago.
John spotted it from pretty far off.
A flock of Roseate Spoonbills and one cormorant looked like they were just waking up.
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.
One by one, some of the spoonbills took off and flew away. We were watching them from the observation tower.
Bird coming towards us over the water.
Green Heron perched just below the tower. You can really see some green in this one.
Another colored heron, the Little Blue, was waiting just at the bottom of the tower.
There is something a tiny bit comical about this bird. It seems poised between different feelings, stuck in indecision.
A decent look at the spoonbill’s bill.
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.
Not many cars on a July morning. That one ahead was driving slowly past a white bird.
It was a Great Egret stalking along in the grass.
When the car drove on, it walked towards us.
The egret was keeping an eye out for lizards and other delicacies.
Birds were my tasty breakfast delicacies! Figuratively, of course.
One of the fishing piers at the west causeway under Jensen Beach bridge, looking north at the Indian River Lagoon. Guys were netting fish. A couple of members of the heron family were lurking nearby.
Little Blue Heron on a light post.
Great Egret near the boat ramp.
Both heron and egret appear to have breeding plumage still.
Looking toward the mainland, I spotted an Anhinga drying its feathers, its back to the sun, in classic Anhinga pose.
Feathers and palm fronds.
An Osprey was fishing the Indian River Lagoon. That’s the Florida Power & Light nuke plant in the distance.
Osprey, boat traffic on the Intracoastal, and Nettles Island.
Anhinga was not happy with the dog and me being so close. We gave it some room to keep sunning.
You can almost count its feathers from this angle!
I guess I’ll just change the name of this blog to the Indian RiverSide Park Pond Blog.
But you can see why I go there: I watched all these birds while sitting cross-legged in one little spot on an ant-free patch of grass, with my German Shepherd in a down-stay beside me.
A birdy place in the not very birdy season of Florida summer. And within my 5-mile radius.
This photo is like a natural history museum diorama of wetland bird life!
Left to right: juvenile White Ibis; Black-bellied Whistling Duck; Tricolored Heron; Mottled Ducks.
They had no problem sharing space. I took these photos Friday around 7 p.m. The park was busy, including a softball semi-final game with extra cars and people.
A male Mottled Duck, Anas fulvigula, with a bit of blue secondary feathers (wing patch, speculum) showing on the wing.
The ibis was the busiest, probing here and there, and the duck the least busy, standing with zen-like calm.
The ibis was carrying a little minnow around for a while.
Such a diversity of water loving birds here in wet Florida.
The Black-bellied is quite a different looking duck from the mallards and mallard-like Mottleds I see regularly. And funny that it is standing in the water.
Two very different bird beaks.
The beak, bill, or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds that is used for eating and for preening, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young.
Neat illustration on Wikimedia Commons.
The Tricolored Heron is a sleek and slender heron adorned in blue-gray, lavender, and white. The white stripe down the middle of its sinuous neck and its white belly set it apart from other dark herons. This fairly small heron wades through coastal waters in search of small fish, often running and stopping with quick turns and starts, as if dancing in a ballet.
And stabbing them with its beak, en garde! A little fencing heron.
You can see the tip of the Black-bellied Whistling Duck’s beak turns down a bit at the end. That part is called the nail…
All birds of the family Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans) have a nail, a plate of hard horny tissue at the tip of the beak. This shield-shaped structure, which sometimes spans the entire width of the beak, is often bent at the tip to form a hook. It serves different purposes depending on the bird’s primary food source. Most species use their nails to dig seeds out of mud or vegetation, while diving ducks use theirs to pry molluscs from rocks. There is evidence that the nail may help a bird to grasp things; species which use strong grasping motions to secure their food (such as when catching and holding onto a large squirming frog) have very wide nails.
An ibis beak has a special addition.
The bill tip organ is a region found near the tip of the bill in several types of birds that forage particularly by probing. The region has a high density of nerve endings known as the corpuscles of Herbst. This consists of pits in the bill surface which in the living bird is occupied by cells that sense pressure changes. The assumption is that this allows the bird to perform ‘remote touch’, which means that it can detect movements of animals which the bird does not directly touch. Bird species known to have a ‘bill-tip organ’ includes members of ibisis, shorebirds of the family Scolopacidae, and kiwis.
This young ibis was carrying this little fish around a for a while.
Not sure what it was waiting for to gobble it up.
The colors of the juvenile White Ibis are a nice gray brown.
When baby White Ibises hatch their bills are straight. Their bills don’t start to curve downward until they are 14 days old.
Wow! Maybe so they can break out of the shell?
New vocabulary word…
The speculum is a patch of often iridescent color on the secondary feathers of most duck species. It is often seen as a bright patch of color on the rear of the wing when the wing is spread during flight or when the bird is stretching, preening, or landing. The color of the speculum will vary by species, as will its width and any non-iridescent borders.
The other duck’s wing patch is off-white and looks like a stripe when the wings are at rest.
The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a boisterous duck with a brilliant pink bill and an unusual, long-legged silhouette. In places like Texas and Louisiana, watch for noisy flocks of these gaudy ducks dropping into fields to forage on seeds, or loafing on golf course ponds. Listen for them, too—these ducks really do have a whistle for their call. Common south of the U.S., Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks occur in several southern states and are expanding northward.
The Tricolored Heron is petite compared to the big ones I photograph all the time.
Like this Great Egret a short distance away, owning its spot by the pond.
What our juvenile White Ibis will look like when he’s all grown up.
They look like a flock of bird ghosts, spooky and cute.