Haney Creek list


Green Heron!

Not an uncommon bird, but hard to spot. This is my first sighting since we moved to Florida.


I went for a walk at Haney Creek yesterday late morning. I kept track of the birds I saw and heard and posted an eBird checklist for the first time in a while.


The first to greet me: a couple of Gray Catbirds.




Next, a non-bird.


A slow-moving Gopher Tortoise was grazing at the edge of the path.


On the fence at the dog run, an Eastern Phoebe.


“Phoebe!” it said, helpfully.


I expected to see more wading birds in the wetlands but only came up with this immature Little Blue Heron.


That is a school just beyond the wetlands.


The Little Blue is starting to get its adult colors.


Why do they start off white and turn slaty blue-gray? I don’t know.


On the hunt.


Mirror, mirror.


Last time I was at the dog park at Haney Creek (two days before), there were a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a pair of Great Egrets having a turf battle. I did not have my camera. I was hoping to see them this day but no luck.


Next I walked a trail through sand pine scrub.


There were little birds calling but I only got a good look at a few, including this Yellow-rumped Warbler.


There have been a ton of butterbutts around this winter. I’m almost getting sick of them.


More info on Florida sand pine scrub, an endangered subtropical forest ecoregion.


Another gopher tortoise out for a stroll.


Finally an animal that can’t outrun me, or fly away.


Lots of Northern Cardinals around.


I think it’s nesting season for them.


Chestnut cap helps identify this (out of focus) Palm Warbler.


Who doesn’t love a Green Heron??

Park birds, pond

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We went to Indian Riverside Park yesterday in the late afternoon. But why did I take so many pictures of birds! Oh well, because I love them. Here they are…


Woot! it’s a Coot!


I have never photographed and IDed an American Coot, until now!


Duck, Mottled.


Little Blue Heron, a grownup in its inky dark plumage.


Snowy Egret.


Standing still.


That ol’ coot.

You’ll find coots eating aquatic plants on almost any body of water. When swimming they look like small ducks (and often dive), but on land they look more chickenlike, walking rather than waddling.


The pond in the park was clearly the avian place to be.


White Ibises, a coot and a Little Blue Heron.


Also a few Cattle Egrets.


A brief kerfuffle among the Mottled Ducks.


Then all was well again.

Compared to other species of ducks, pair formation occurs early, with nearly 80% of all individuals paired by November. Breeding starts in January, continuing through to July and usually peaking in March and April.


The male has a yellow bill, the female orange.


Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds. Although they are related to the secretive rails, they swim in the open like ducks and walk about on shore, making themselves at home on golf courses and city park ponds.


Worth a read from Audubon.org The Sketch… The American Coot: A Tough-Love Parent.


Bills can be swords, reminds the Cattle Egret.


Cattle Egrets have broad, adaptable diets: primarily insects, plus other invertebrates, fish, frogs, mammals, and birds. They feed voraciously alone or in loose flocks of up to hundreds. Foraging mostly on insects disturbed by grazing cattle or other livestock, they also glean prey from wetlands or the edges of fields that have been disturbed by fire, tractors, or mowing machinery. Grasshoppers and crickets are the biggest item on their menu, which also includes horse flies, owlet moths and their larvae, cicadas, wolf spiders, ticks, earthworms, crayfish, millipedes, centipedes, fish, frogs, mice, songbirds, eggs, and nestlings.


Another place birds find food in the park is from people. I was across the pond and couldn’t see what she was feeding them. The dogs were doing an amazing job of ignoring the birds… for treats?


Another member of the Rallidae family (Rails, Galllinules and Coots): the Common Gallinule.


The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.


Whoa, those toes!


A couple of nonnatives, Egyptian Geese, were enjoying the feeding from the ladies with the dogs.


Ibis, ibis, goose.


There are some feral populations of Egyptian geese in the area. They are probably more closely related to shelducks than geese. They were sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

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Facsimile Painting of Geese, Tomb of Nefermaat and Itat, ca. 2575-2551 from The Met.

And a heron in a mangrove tree


I believe this is a juvenile Little Blue Heron. Maybe they could rename it Little Blue Heron That Starts Off White.


This bird was near the boardwalk that crosses from the Intracoastal Waterway to the ocean beach at St. Lucie Preserve Inlet State Park, a wonderful place for nature and quiet at the northern end of Jupiter Island. Accessible only by boat… or a very long walk up the beach from the parking lot at Home Sound Wildlife Refuge to the south.


We were there a week and a half ago. Busy holiday time has made me a blog slacker. But now it is quiet Christmas morning and lo, the blog revives. Merry Christmas! The day will be busier soon, with my daughters visiting from the cold north and my husband the airline pilot winging his way home from London.


The pretty green eye of the Little Blue.


The Little Blue Heron is a stand-and-wait predator, rather than a frenetic, dashing-about predator. They watch the water for fish and other small morsels, changing locations by walking slowly or by flying to a completely different site.

A mellow little fellow, easy to photograph.


Also from the boat trip, a Brown Pelican close-up.


Have you noticed the tip of a pelican’s bill? It’s a built-in fish hook!

Also, the bird’s pouch (a “fishing net”) expands to hold up to three gallons of water, which is then expelled, leaving the fish inside.


This looks like a neat movie: Pelican Dreams trailer.

What’s it like to try to get to know a flying dinosaur? Filmmaker Judy Irving (“The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”) follows a wayward California brown pelican from her “arrest” on the Golden Gate Bridge into care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, and from there explores pelicans’ nesting grounds, Pacific coast migration, and survival challenges. The film is about wildness: how close can we get to a wild animal without taming or harming it? Why do we need wildness in our lives, and how can we protect it?

I wish you Peace, Love and Joy this day. And I hope you see a few cool birds.




The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) has yellow “slippers” and a yellow lore, which is the area between the eye and bill.


The Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) is in the same family, Ardeidae, and same genus, Egretta, and around the same size. Both photographed in Lakeside Ranch STA on Saturday.

Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. The genus name comes from the Provençal French for the little egret, Aigrette, a diminutive of Aigron,” heron”.


Egret, by Lin Fengmian, early 20th century, China.

A confusing white wading bird


Yesterday this white bird was down the road at the retention pond/ swale that fills up when it rains a lot, and the rainy season is still going strong.


A little Great Egret? No, it was too small and the bill and legs were the wrong color. I think it’s a juvenile Little Blue Heron that will grow up to be a purply indigo blue.

Juveniles are entirely white, except for vague dusky tips to the outer primaries. Immatures molting into adult plumage are a patchwork of white and blue.

But apparently it’s easy to confuse juvenile LBHs with juvenile Snowy Egrets: link. Argh, birding is so hard!


The bird was wary of me and my wolfy dog. We didn’t stay long.


The temporary pond at the end of our street. The bird was a-way over there.


In the narrow “canals” along the main road, there were many, many tadpoles!

Addendum 10/6/17: I got ID help on a Facebook page, Hey, ABA… What’s this bird? The consensus is that it is a juvenile Little Blue Heron.

Front yard birds


I walked out the front door and a pair of Wood Ducks zipped past and landed in the strangler fig on the border of our front yard Friday morning.


The male.

I went inside to get my camera and managed a couple of shots before they flew off.


Then later that day the roof guys finished our new metal roof. When we came back from errands, my husband spotted a Little Blue Heron perched up there.


Close up.


Nice weathervane.

Birds at Lakeside Ranch STA


Good morning, Lakeside Ranch STA (Stormwater Treatment Area).

I signed in at the gate with the president of Audubon of Martin County bright and early yesterday morning and joined a few other cars driving around here and there on the narrow roads on top of the dikes in the 2600 acres under the care of the South Florida Water Management District.

Lakeside Ranch STA is located on the northeast side of Lake Okeechobee, about 50 minutes from my home in Sewall’s Point.


Great Blue Heron in the misty morn.


Peaceful and pretty. Temps around 57 when I arrived at 7 a.m., climbing to 75 or so by the time I left at 10:30.


Sandhill Crane flyby.


Another birdwatcher.


Great Egret and Great Blue Heron.


Anhinga keeping an eye on me.


Tri-colored Heron hunting for breakfast.


Snowy Egret and  juvenile night heron.


Little Blue Heron and Tricolored Heron.


Rotten photo but I’ve been seeing these birds in Florida and didn’t know what they were. Audubon president helped me ID it as a Palm Warbler. “Yellow butt? Brown capped head? Wagging tail?”

The rusty-capped Palm Warbler can be most easily recognized by the tail-wagging habit that shows off its yellow undertail. It breeds in bogs and winters primarily in the southern United States and Caribbean.


Voguing grackles. Or maybe males having a sing off? I am pretty sure these are Boat-tailed Grackles.

Boat-tailed Grackles are large, lanky songbirds with rounded crowns, long legs, and fairly long, pointed bills. Males have very long tails that make up almost half their body length and that they typically hold folded in a V-shape, like the keel of a boat.

Males are glossy black all over. Females are dark brown above and russet below, with a subtle face pattern made up of a pale eyebrow, dark cheek, and pale “mustache” stripe.

These scrappy blackbirds are supreme omnivores, feeding on everything from seeds and human food scraps to crustaceans scavenged from the shoreline.

Boat-tailed Grackles are a strictly coastal species through most of their range; however, they live across much of the Florida peninsula, often well away from the immediate coast.


Is it a duck?


Or a wading bird? Neither… it’s a Common Gallinule!

The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.


Red-winged Blackbird.



A shorebird you can see without going to the beach, Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.


Let these dead trees be decorated with Anhingas!


Aw, sweet. Two Great Blue Herons starting a nest in a cabbage palm.


My first Eastern Meadowlark!

The sweet, lazy whistles of Eastern Meadowlarks waft over summer grasslands and farms in eastern North America. The birds themselves sing from fenceposts and telephone lines or stalk through the grasses, probing the ground for insects with their long, sharp bills. On the ground, their brown-and-black dappled upperparts camouflage the birds among dirt clods and dry grasses. But up on perches, they reveal bright-yellow underparts and a striking black chevron across the chest.


Juvenile White Ibis strikes a pose.


Cattle Egret, that chunky little white egret found near or away from water. Often seen (by me) on top of shrubs planted in medians.


Anhinga draws attention to an important road sign.


Great Blue Heron pose.


Alligator smile.


There were five gators in this one spot.


View across a small canal to another birdwatcher’s car.


Blackbird (grackle?) draws attention to this important sign.


Cattle and cattle egrets, just past the edge of the STA.


Sandhill Crane, maybe on top of the beginnings of a nest.


Glossy Ibis.

A dark wading bird with a long, down-curved bill. Although the Glossy Ibis in North America lives primarily along the Atlantic Coast, it also can be found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.


Blurry pic because it was far away, but with important identifying features. I described this bird to the Audubon president when I got back to the gate and he said it was a Loggerhead Shrike. Another new bird!

The Loggerhead Shrike is a songbird with a raptor’s habits. A denizen of grasslands and other open habitats throughout much of North America, this masked black, white, and gray predator hunts from utility poles, fence posts and other conspicuous perches, preying on insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals. Lacking a raptor’s talons, Loggerhead Shrikes skewer their kills on thorns or barbed wire or wedge them into tight places for easy eating. Their numbers have dropped sharply in the last half-century.

At the end of January, I attended a couple of days of a local Audubon Field Academy. I am signed up next to do a day with raptors at a local wildlife rehab center, then a unit on migration at the end of March. More field trips are on the calendar too.

Meanwhile, back to fixing up this little old Florida concrete-block-and-stucco house. I am painting the last of the three bedrooms today before the wood floor installation guys arrive tomorrow.