I call this one Good-bye, Cruel World.
From a morning walk to the causeway on a windy but beautiful day.
I call this one Good-bye, Cruel World.
From a morning walk to the causeway on a windy but beautiful day.
Ospreys always overhead. Every day.
This one was soaring above one of our favorite spots, “the causeway.” It’s a park under the west side of the Ernest Lyons Bridge that crosses the Indian River Lagoon, connecting Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. We can walk there from home. It’s a favorite spot to throw the ball for the dog and watch birds, fish, boats, fishermen and windsurfers.
We are the watchers. The walkers and watchers.
Here’s a bird we watched.
A Great Blue Heron was standing in shallows on the north side.
This bird can strike a pose. Vogue Heron.
It is showing some blue coloring near its eye and some long dark plumes on its head. Its legs are turning a darker color too. Mating season ahoy.
Spotted from afar, a Spotted Sandpiper. I moved slowly closer.
These are the most widespread sandpipers in North America, but not super common around here as far as I can tell. They migrate north for their summer mating season.
The tail bobbing movement of this bird is distinctive, and caught my eye while I was watching this one and trying to ID it.
From Cornell Lab of Ornithology…
I tallied the birds I watched on this day and submitted an e-Bird checklist here: Amy Kane January 3 Ernest Lyons Bridge 7 species
I think I’ll check in at this spot once a month this year, and keep an eye on the birds close to home.
That includes our winter friends the vultures, like this Black Vulture on a causeway lamppost.
“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.” – Lynn Thomson
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.
A boardwalk through the mangroves leads to a view over the Indian River Lagoon and the shallow sandbars known as Sailfish Flats. The boardwalk is across the street from Bathtub Reef Beach. (And within my 5-mile radius.)
This was my first visit here. I stopped by this eBird Hotspot this morning at 8 a.m. and watched birds for 15 minutes.
Here is my eBird checklist. I forgot my binoculars so I couldn’t ID the terns on the farthest sandbar. Next time!
First bird was a White Ibis.
A young Reddish Egret flew in from the north and landed on the railing near me.
I suspect this is the same bird I saw on the ocean side on September 20: LINK.
One guy was coming back from fishing. It was 86 degrees and a bit windy, but the wind was from the east so we were a bit protected on this side of Hutchinson Island.
The egret flew out to the flats and started its fishing dance.
I didn’t see it catch anything, but it was pretty to watch.
Master fishing-bird the Osprey did catch something.
It was immediately harassed by another Osprey, something I haven’t seen before.
Maybe it was a young Osprey begging for food from a parent?
Still hopping around out there.
American Bird Conservancy…
The Reddish Egret stalks its prey—mostly small fish—more actively than other herons and egrets. The birds first locate their quarry by sight, then the dance begins. They dash, lurch, and zig-zag after their prey, often holding their wings over the water as they hunt. This shadow-casting strategy is thought to reduce glare and help the egret more accurately sight and spear its prey.
I also saw, but did not get great photos of: Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Brown Pelican, a couple of terns species flying over, and Laughing Gulls.
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!
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!
Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, atop a Norfolk Island pine across the street from the Snook Nook, Jensen Beach.
I love words as much as birds, so let’s do some etymology.
The genus name Pandion derives from the mythical Greek king of Athens and grandfather of Theseus, Pandion II. The species name haliaetus comes from Ancient Greek haliaietos ἁλιάετος from hali- ἁλι-, “sea-” and aetos άετος, “eagle”.
The origins of osprey are obscure; the word itself was first recorded around 1460, derived via the Anglo-French ospriet and the Medieval Latin avis prede “bird of prey,” from the Latin avis praedæ though the Oxford English Dictionary notes a connection with the Latin ossifraga or “bone breaker” of Pliny the Elder.
With a 50- to 71-inch wingspan, Ospreys are similar in size to the largest hawks and falcons.
And did you know?…
The osprey is the second most widely distributed raptor species, after the peregrine falcon. It has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, wintering further south from the southern United States through to Argentina. It is found in summer throughout Europe north into Ireland, Scandinavia, Finland and Scotland, England, and Wales though not Iceland, and winters in North Africa. In Australia it is mainly sedentary and found patchily around the coastline, though it is a non-breeding visitor to eastern Victoria and Tasmania.
Plate 81, Fish Hawk, or Osprey, by John James Audubon. (Source)
Our sweet ride awaits, the bug-eye green boat that is the Marsh Beast. Birdwatching by airboat, oh yeah! We did that yesterday morning.
We could get a really nice view of some birds from the boat, like this Anhinga at rest.
Guys fishing and an osprey nest.
Two juveniles and one adult in this photo.
Captain Kenny said this is one of the few nests with juveniles still in it.
Another airboat coming in for a look.
We saw lots of Ospreys during our trip.
Ma or Pa Osprey.
The Osprey kids’ brown feathers have more white on them than the adult.
That’s a fine young bird!
Osprey at rest. Big wings like a cloak.
Osprey in motion…almost a great photo!
We came upon some small black fuzzy creatures in the floating vegetation.
They are seemingly running on top of the water.
They were Purple Gallinule chicks, we were told.
Long legs and long toes make them look funny if you are more used to hen chicks than swamphen chicks.
Looks like a little wetland roadrunner.
There’s an adult.
A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.
On the move.
Adult coming in for a landing.
Purple Gallinule chicks.
Coming up on an alligator.
Alligator spotting is an important part of any airboat trip in Florida, right?
A Least Bittern!.. a new bird for me.
A tiny heron, furtive and surpassingly well camouflaged, the Least Bittern is one of the most difficult North American marsh birds to spot.
What a beauty!
Thanks to its habit of straddling reeds, the Least Bittern can feed in water that would be too deep for the wading strategy of other herons.
I think this is a male, because its back and crown are almost black. Females’ crown and back are brown, according to Cornell.
A short flying hop to some new reeds.
Shake it off.
Thank you for posing, little bittern.
We watched one big gator for a while.
And he watched us.
Great Blue Heron in a mat of water hyacinth.
We investigated an area I’ll called Egret Town.
Big wings, big feathers.
Great Egret wingspan is four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half feet.
Another Common Gallinule.
It was nice to have a breeze when we were on the move on a typically warm Florida summer morning.
Nice golden slippers, Snowy Egret. Another one of those just-missed-it action photos, oh well.
Birds and beast.
Captain Kenny said they are normally here in winter, not summer.
Decorating the tree a bit early this year, in Egret Town.
Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets.
More gallinule chicks.
An older gallinule chick among the lotus?
These lovely lotus are native plants, we learned.
Anhinga in the treetops, my last bird of the trip.
The fishing pier, little beach and waters of the Indian River Lagoon behind the Snook Nook bait and tackle shop is an eBird hotspot that also falls within my 5-mile radius. After breakfast at the delicious Mary’s Gourmet Kitchen yesterday (open at 7 a.m. for early birds) we traveled a short distance north for a look-see at the ‘Nook.
Osprey on sea grapes at the edge of the lagoon, making some noise.
I’m pretty sure this is a Reddish Egret, on a quick fly by. The current U.S. population, located on the Atlantic coast in Florida and all around the Gulf Coast, is roughly 2,000 pairs, according to Audubon.
On the dock, just one bird. So much for Hotspot!
It looks like a “second winter” Laughing Gull. Photo at Cornell.
Laughing Gulls are year-round residents here. I remember when I was a kid visiting my grandparents at the Jersey Shore we would only see these gulls in summertime. Their distinctive laughing call is a soundtrack to happy childhood beach and boardwalk memories.
Next a small, spotted wading bird flew into the scene.
Definitely a rare Dalmatian Heron, right?
Just kidding. It’s a young Blue Heron growing up and molting from white to “blue.”
Little Blue Herons may gain a survival advantage by wearing white during their first year of life. Immature birds are likelier than their blue elders to be tolerated by Snowy Egrets—and in the egrets’ company, they catch more fish. Mingling in mixed-species flocks of white herons, immature Little Blue Herons probably also acquire extra protection against predators.
With their patchy white-and-blue appearance, Little Blue Herons in transition from the white first-year stage to blue adult plumage are often referred to as “Calico,” “Pied,” or “Piebald.”
When I was a young girl going through my horse phase I remember learning the odd words “pied” and “piebald” for that particular black-and-white horse color.
The famous Pied Piper from the Middle Ages tale is “pied” because of his multicolored clothing.
This pied dog is a Dalmatian, of course.
Pied little blue in the IRL.
Wonderful photos and description at Mia McPherson’s On The Wing: Age Related Color Morphs of Little Blue Herons
Wading bird wading, with the causeway to the bridge from the Jensen Beach mainland to Hutchinson Island beyond. Layers of moody tropically-moist storm clouds tell the story: rainy season has begun.
Ospreys are nesting.
With so much water around us, and so many fish, “fish hawks” are abundant. I see at least a few every day, in part because I have to cross bridges from my home peninsula to do errands.
We spotted this one at Pendarvis Cove Park in Palm City two days ago. We were walking the dog and visiting a new place.
Another Osprey in a tree nearby, presumably the other half of the pair.
Location: a nice little park on the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.
When we spotted the nest from afar, we thought it might be a Bald Eagle’s.
“An eagle wouldn’t tolerate an osprey that close,” John opined.
Quite an accumulation of nesting material.
This one has a fish.
Yesterday we walked around the pretty gardens at Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. It’s the longest walk we’ve done in two weeks, since my husband fixed an old injury by getting a new titanium hip.
We spotted another Osprey nest. They do like the sturdy old pines.
Hello, fish hawk.
This one looked a bit damp. It’s mate was nearby too.
Good news from Audubon: Now Resurgent, Ospreys Once Faced an Uncertain Future
One more photo, orchids in the garden.
The weather has been lovely. April in Florida is sweet.