Tag Archives: Little Blue Heron

Almost-spring on Bird Island

Come fly with me…

… to a strange and wonderful place known as Bird Island. It’s very close to home.

This Magnificent Frigatebird knows the way.

Black frigatebirds on lower branches, white Wood Storks above.

The storks are the most numerous nesting birds at this time of year on this small mangrove island in the Indian River Lagoon that’s just off our peninsular town of Sewall’s Point.

Frigatebirds don’t nest here, they just roost, I’ve been told. But I’m keeping an eye on that situation!

We took a boat out on Tuesday, March 17, late afternoon with the newest member of the family, Ruby the 10-week-old German shepherd. It was her first boat ride and she was great! (We are members of a boat club in Manatee Pocket, about a 20 minute ride to Bird Island.)

Brown Pelicans had reserved their own roosting and nesting spots in one section of the canopy.

Big wings, big bill.

Wood Storks flew close to the boat.

Very common sight in Sewall’s Point at this time of year, as they fly over on their way to Bird Island, sometimes even stopping in our trees to break beaches for nesting material.

Peachy pink feet visible in this photo, as well as some color under the wings.

Speaking of color, the White Ibis have more intensely colored bills and feet in breeding season.

I am so glad this island was designated a wildlife area.

A Great Blue Heron among the Wood Storks. Looks like a Little Blue Heron mixed in there too.

Birds everywhere.

Ruby was watching them too.

White Ibis flying over. They don’t stop on this island – they have their own on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

White Ibis zoomed in.

My husband’s favorite bird was this Fish Crow perched on the sign, as if to draw attention to its important information!

Great Egret.

Wood Stork coming in for a landing.

“Honey, I’m home!”

“Great to see you, gimme a smooch!”

Smooch!

I’m looking forward to getting out to Bird Island again later in the season, when the chicks pop up.

Here are some photos of young Wood Storks from a trip to Bird Island May 2018.

I rename a bird

“Indigo Blue Heron”

Shading from deep violet to dark gray-blue, the Little Blue Heron is truly indigo-blue.

These feather colors just make sense when you put your small heron in front of a saltwater backdrop, as I did here at the causeway.

The Indigo Heron begins the hunt, stepping, stopping, stepping again and keeping an eye out for movement.

Move slowly, blend in, get ready to strike…

…with finger on the shutter button, gotcha. My indigo bird, blogged.

Checking in at Green River

Glossy Ibis yesterday at Green River, northern Martin County, Florida.

Morning walk before the temps climbed again. It’s been hot for this time of year.

Cypress with birds.

Little Blue Heron and big Great Egret.

Looking across one of the big ponds/ little lakes.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

A couple of cattle egrets.

Common Gallinules.

When you want to look at wetland (and its birds) but you don’t want to get wet, Green River is great because of the dikes.

Autumn color, Florida style.

Cypress like wet feet, and knees.

Alligator in the distance.

More flying things I love.

Stuart Air Show this weekend.

Little Blue Heron wading for breakfast.

Haney Creek East

DSC_2692 (1)

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.

DSC_2695

A trail leads away from the pull-off area along Dixie Highway.

DSC_2696

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.

DSC_2697

An Osprey rested on top of a pine tree.

DSC_2698

Enjoy this good bird news: Ospreys Have Made a Remarkable Recovery

DSC_2710

Blue flag? It used to bloom by our New Hampshire pond in spring. I didn’t know it grew in this part of Florida.

DSC_2711

Boardwalk with plenty of cautionary signs.

DSC_2723

Got a good look at a young Little Blue Heron. Yes, they start off as Little White Herons.

DSC_2727

Little white.

DSC_2729

Maple? Also haven’t noticed that around here. Maybe swamp maple… which also grew by our old pond 1400 miles north of here.

DSC_2732

Palm Warbler in the trees.

DSC_2733 (1)

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.

DSC_2733

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.

DSC_2739

I like the way the light hit the bird’s eye in this shot.

DSC_2749

Also spotted a Downy Woodpecker, near the southern end of its range too.

DSC_2754

View walking back on the boardwalk over freshwater.

DSC_2764

Great Egret.

DSC_2767

Great Blue Heron, with “civilization” beyond.

Exploring a Costan Rican estuary by boat

dsc_1270

First bird on our estuary trip was a juvenile Little Blue Heron standing on a mangrove root.

dsc_1272

We took a boat tour up the river that flows into the ocean between Tamarindo and Playa Grande, Costa Rica. We walked to the boat launch from our condo.

The salt and brackish estuary is part of Las Baulas National Park. Our boat and guide were part of Discover Tamarindo tour company. The four of us paid $25 U.S. each for an afternoon tour that lasted a bit longer than the scheduled two hours and was educational, enlightening and relaxing too.

And I got some bird photos!

dsc_1280 (1)

Green Heron in the mangroves. They like to hide.

dsc_1289

Snowy Egret intent on something in the water below. Our guide Juan Carlos told us all about the mangrove trees (7 different kinds in Costa Rica, compared to our three kinds in Florida) and the estuary and its importance to fish and wildlife in the region.

dsc_1304

This is a Spotted Sandpiper.

Though you may think of the beach as the best place to see a sandpiper, look for Spotted Sandpipers alone or in pairs along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams. Once in flight, watch for their stuttering wingbeats, or look for them teetering along rocky banks or logs.

dsc_1319

This Yellow-crowned Night Heron was sleepy that afternoon. Juan Carlos said he was sunbathing to heat his feathers and kill parasites – something many birds do.

dsc_1327

Awake now.

dsc_1332

We were very close to this bird and he didn’t care.

dsc_1349

Juan Carlos spotted an oriole in a tree on the riverbank. He was expert at whistling different bird calls and getting them to appear – what a skill!

dsc_1350

He identified it as a Streak-backed Oriole, definitely a new one for me and number 199 on my blog sidebar list of birds!

dsc_1351

There is the streaked back.

dsc_1355

Audubon Field Guide…

Dry tropical forests, from northwestern Mexico to Costa Rica, are the usual haunts of this colorful oriole. The bird is a rare stray into the Southwest, mostly southern Arizona and southern California.

dsc_1359

Icterus pustulatus is in the Blackbird and Oriole family.

Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small- to medium-sized, often colorful, New-World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning “jaundiced ones” (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

DSC_1361.jpg

Further up the estuary.

dsc_1401

Juan Carlos nosed the boat onto a dirt bank and we walked a short way into the dry forest to see Howler Monkeys. They are the only type of monkey that can live in this region that is so dry half the year because they can use the water they get from the leaves they eat.

dsc_1406

This one was rubbing his chin on the tree… scratching an itch maybe?!

Here is a map of western Costa Rica showing the location of Tamarindo. We flew in to Liberia airport and rented a car. Our trip up the estuary was two days ago. Yesterday we explored, walked and swam on beaches north of Tamarindo – Playa Grande, Playa Brasilito, Playa Conchal. We drove through Playa Flamingo and up to Playa Catalinas before we turned to go back to our own vacation beach. Beautiful area.

dsc_0026

Boat launch area. We didn’t see crocodiles but they are there. They relocate the largest ones to another part of the park with fewer tourists and surfers!

There are numerous tour operators. We were very happy with Discover Tamarindo.

Beach bird walk

IMG_9315-2

Bathtub Reef Beach on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, Florida last Sunday around noon. Red flag advises against swimming but does not forbid it (that would be two red flags).

IMG_9316-2

I walked south to the inlet and back, 2.2 miles, for an hour and 45 minutes, watching and counting birds.

Here’s my eBird checklist: Oct 7 Bathtub Beach.

IMG_9324-2

When little shorebirds are holding still, it’s hard to see them.

IMG_9325-2

These people walked right past and didn’t seem to notice the plovers.

Fancy houses along the beach here. It’s the gated community of Sailfish Point, right at the southern tip of the island. Can’t get in unless you live there – although you can walk along the beach.

IMG_9333-2

These are Semipalmated Plovers, a new bird for me.

IMG_9334-2

Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

A small dark shorebird with a single band across its chest, the Semipalmated Plover is the most common plover seen on migration in most areas.

IMG_9335-2

Audubon

The most common of the small plovers on migration through most areas. On its breeding grounds in the north, it avoids the tundra habitat chosen by most shorebirds, nesting instead on gravel bars along rivers or ponds. In such surroundings, its seemingly bold pattern actually helps to make the plover inconspicuous, by breaking up its outline against the varied background. The name “semipalmated” refers to partial webbing between the bird’s toes.

IMG_9361-2

Willets flew in for a short visit.

IMG_9368-2

A Ruddy Turnstone was digging into a sea turtle shell.

IMG_9369-2

A sleepy solitary Sanderling was near the turnstone and small flock of plovers.

IMG_9382-2

The turnstone was very busy.

IMG_9386-2

I watched it rushing here and there, pushing away bits of sargassum , sticks and shells to see what was underneath.

IMG_9387-2.jpg

“It’s turning ‘stones’ like a turnstone!” I thought.

IMG_9388-2

Audubon

Best known for habit of inserting bill under stones, shells, etc., and flipping them over to find food underneath. Several birds may work together to overturn a larger object. Often probes under seaweed or debris.

IMG_9410-2

Gusty east wind and strong surf. Brown Pelican can handle it.

IMG_9411-2

Brown Pelicans have a wingspan between 6.5 and 7.5 feet. They are the smallest of the eight pelican species, but still very big birds.

IMG_9427-2

Getting closer to the inlet, I came upon a bird I’ve only seen once before: a Black-bellied Plover.

IMG_9432-2

It relocated as I walked past on the high part of the beach, but didn’t go far. Nice view of wings and tail.

IMG_9434-2

Audubon

This stocky plover breeds in high Arctic zones around the world, and winters on the coasts of six continents. Some can be seen along our beaches throughout the year (including non-breeding immatures through the summer). Although the Black-bellied Plover is quite plain in its non-breeding plumage, it adds much to the character of our shorelines with its haunting whistles, heard by day or night.

IMG_9436-2

Most migrate along coast or over sea, but numbers stop over regularly at some inland sites. Winter range remarkably extensive, from New England and southwestern Canada to southern South America, Africa, Australia.

IMG_9437-2

The other time I spotted these birds was at Ragged Neck in in New Hampshire in Nov. 2016, along with some Snow Buntings.

IMG_9438-2

An attractive, large shorebird.

IMG_9440-2

A couple of guys on jetskis were playing in the waves near the inlet.

IMG_9444-2

Sanderling in motion!

IMG_9446-2

I see these sandpipers a lot in non-breeding season.

IMG_9454-2

You don’t see too many fishermen at this spot since they have to walk a ways to get here.

IMG_9456-2

Looking across the St. Lucie  inlet from Hutchinson Island to Jupiter Island. And Sanderlings running along the sand.

IMG_9457-2

Little Blue Herons… an adult on the rocks and an immature in the water. Yes, the young ones are white not “blue”.

IMG_9463-2

Little Blue strut.

IMG_9470-2

Sanderlings at rest.

IMG_9471-2

IMG_9473-2

View west from the inlet. The St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon connect to the Atlantic Ocean here.

IMG_9476-2

Sandwich Tern, a tern I know thanks to the yellow bill tip!

Around and around the pond we go,/ what birds we’ll see, we never know

Pond at Indian RiverSide Park, Jensen Beach yesterday around 1 p.m.

I submitted an eBird checklist for this visit: HERE it is.

Little Blue Heron grabbed a Big Brown Bug from the grass, dropped it in the water for a second, then swallowed it whole.

What does that feel like, I wonder.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were on hand, two by two.

This Green Heron is a juvenile.

Mottled Ducks were chasing each other all over the pond, in a minor commotion I thought might be due to some new arrivals sorting out the pecking order. Except this one duck was alone in the reeds.

Green Heron. Fluffy neck feathers.

I haven’t seen a Green Heron here before. This one was pretty shy so I didn’t go too close or stay too long in that spot.

Raised crest, seems a bit alarmed. Okay, I’m moving on!

The Tricolored Heron would dance around in front of me all day and never mind.

And Egyptian Geese walk right up to you to see if you have food. (A guy stopped by and fed them peanuts while I was there.)

The other pair of Whistling Ducks, on the other side of the pond, was near the Common Gallinule family.

Flyover of about 40 pigeons while I was there, but only one scruffy bird bothered to land… on a trashcan.

Adult gallinule.

The young ‘uns.

Three chicks, one adult in this pic. The whole family I’ve been seeing consistently,  of 2 parents and 4 chicks, was present.

Egyptian Geese and gallinule chicks.

Wood Ducks made an appearance.. Looks like a couple of non-breeding/ juvenile males and a female.

Mottled Duck and Wood Ducks.

Pond scene.

I was driving off but had to roll down my window and zoom in on this charming sight: a White Ibis sunning itself like my chickens used to do.

You’re adorable!

Why Do Birds Sunbathe?

Many birds are observed sunning even on the hottest days, however, and it is believed that sunning can fulfill purposes other than just temperature regulation. Sunning can help birds convert compounds in their preening oil – secreted from a gland at the base of the tail – into vitamin D, which is essential for good health. If the birds have been in a bird bath or swimming, sunning can help their feathers dry more quickly so they can fly easier, without being weighed down by excess water. It is even believed that some birds sun themselves for pure enjoyment and relaxation, much the same way humans will sunbathe.

The most important reason for sunning, however, is to maintain feather health. Sunning can dislodge feather parasites because the excess heat will encourage insects to move to other places in a bird’s plumage. This will give the bird easier access to get rid of those parasites when preening, and birds are frequently seen preening immediately after sunning. It is essential to get rid of these parasites – the tiny insects that infect feathers can cause problems for a bird’s flight, insulation and appearance, all of which can impact its survival.