Tag Archives: Indian River Lagoon

Catch of the day: oystercatchers

Oystercatchers! Go back!” My husband turned the car around and pulled into a parking spot at the Snook Nook.

We were headed north for a walk in the scrub yesterday afternoon, but made a quick detour for a special bird.

Next to the Snook Nook is Fredgie’s World Famous Hot Dogs. The roadside stand lures lots of people to stop for a quick lunch in fresh air at the edge of the Indian River Lagoon in Jensen Beach.

They are famous for the “fredgie” which is a hot dog on a bun topped with chili… and peanut butter. Really.

On the left side of the photo, you can see the dock with the oystercatchers. I spotted them from the road on the right, Indian River Drive.

It was a very windy day, and the surface of the lagoon was pretty rough. The docks and narrow beach here are a popular “hotspot” for birdwatchers to see a variety of gulls and terns.

According to eBird, 78 different species of birds have been spotted at the Snook Nook.

I think this Fredgie’s gull is a juvenile Laughing Gull in the first winter of its life, and already a fearless scavenger of French fries.

The Snook Nook sells everything you need for catching this region’s most popular sport fish, the snook, and more.

I have only seen oystercatchers a couple of times in Martin County, and only photographed one once in May of 2018, at the causeway park under the bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island.

“Bait” for oystercatchers is oysters.

American Oystercatchers dine almost solely on saltwater bivalve mollusks, including many species of clams and several oysters and mussels, and to a lesser degree limpets, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, marine worms, and crustaceans such as lady crabs and speckled crabs. Oystercatchers walk slowly through oyster reefs until they see one that is slightly open; they quickly jab the bill inside the shell to snip the strong adductor muscle that closes the two halves of the shell. 

Maybe if we had more healthy oyster beds in this area, as in days of old, we would see more oystercatchers. A wonderful local organization, Florida Oceanographic Society, is working on oyster reef restoration.

Do your part by eating oysters from local restaurants listed at the link!.. FLOOR. Or volunteer to bag oysters and help construct reefs.

More on Martin County’s Oyster Reef Restoration Program, including a reef location map.

Boating near Bird Island

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Ahoy, a Magnificent Frigatebird. My husband loves these birds.

This one is immature, according to the ID photos on Cornell’s All About Birds.

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A Brown Pelican!

Boy, you don’t see many of those around here. ¬†ūüėČ

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We borrowed a 21-foot center console fishing boat from our boat club down in Port Salerno. Radar our 20-month-old German Shepherd Dog came with us.

After trying a few fishing spots unsuccessfully, we pulled up on on a deserted island, swam the dog (he loves to fetch a ball), then we motored past Bird Island to see the sights.

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The sights included Roseate Spoonbills and I finally got a few photos.

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Pretty in pink! Here’s one with a Great Blue Heron. I spotted a total of three.

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Bird Island is a spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon, created years ago (1950s? 1960s?) from dredging the Intracoastal Waterway. Mangroves grew on it and birds began nesting here.

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A bizarre wading bird of the southern coasts, the Roseate Spoonbill uses its odd bill to strain small food items out of the water. Its bright pink coloring leads many Florida tourists to think they have seen a flamingo.

The spoonbill is Florida bird #53 for me.

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But the coolest thing was seeing baby Wood Storks!

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Just across the channel is the town¬†of Sewall’s Point, Florida. This house is closest to Bird Island. If I lived there I’d be out on one of the balconies every day with binoculars… or maybe I’d even invest in a scope.

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Do not pester the birds. We didn’t.

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Radar was bird watching too.

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According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife North Florida Ecological Office…

The wood stork is a highly colonial species usually nesting in large rookeries and feeding in flocks.  Age at first breeding is 3 years but typically do so at 4.  Nesting periods vary geographically.  In South Florida, wood storks lay eggs as early as October and fledge in February or March.  However, in north and central Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, storks lay eggs from March to late May, with fledging occurring in July and August.  Nests are frequently located in the upper branches of large cypress trees or in mangroves on islands.  Several nests are usually located in each tree.  Wood storks have also nested in man-made structures.  Storks lay two to five eggs, and average two young fledged per successful nest under good conditions.

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Small fish from 1 to 6 inches long, especially topminnows and sunfish, provide this bird’s primary diet. ¬†Wood storks capture their prey by a specialized technique known as grope-feeding or tacto-location. Feeding often occurs in water 6 to 10 inches deep, where a stork probes with the bill partly open. ¬†When a fish touches the bill it quickly snaps shut. ¬†The average response time of this reflex is 25 milliseconds, making it one of the fastest reflexes known in vertebrates. ¬†Wood storks use thermals to soar as far as 80 miles from nesting to feeding areas. ¬†Since thermals do not form in early morning, wood storks may arrive at feeding areas later than other wading bird species such as herons. ¬†Energy requirements for a pair of nesting wood storks and their young is estimated at 443 pounds of fish for the breeding season (based on an average production of 2.25 fledglings per nest).

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A birdy place.

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A Wood Stork, Mycteria americana.

Fishing bird

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Kingfisher silhouetted against the Indian River Lagoon, with Sewall’s Point beyond.

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A kingfisher always has his fishing gear with him. This one is also having a cool hair day.

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Humans need rods and lines and hooks and bait.

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East Island Access Bridge is a popular fishing spot for people and birds.

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Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret share a tree.

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Pretty close to the same size, they are both in the Ardeidae (Heron) family.

The herons are the long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 recognised species, some of which are referred to as “egrets” or “bitterns” rather than herons.

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It’s almost like the egret’s shadow is sitting next to him.