A Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a stump, with a White Ibis nearby.
Little Blue Heron on a stump.
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a stump, with a White Ibis nearby.
Little Blue Heron on a stump.
First bird on our estuary trip was a juvenile Little Blue Heron standing on a mangrove root.
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!
Green Heron in the mangroves. They like to hide.
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.
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.
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.
We were very close to this bird and he didn’t care.
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!
He identified it as a Streak-backed Oriole, definitely a new one for me and number 199 on my blog sidebar list of birds!
There is the streaked back.
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.
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.
Further up the estuary.
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.
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.
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.
This is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, first thing in the morning when it was still kind of dark for my camera.
Looking into the mangroves at a Roseate Spoonbill.
Spoonbill with its cousin the White Ibis.
On Saturday morning I was invited to join three more experienced birders for a walk in a bird-friendly spot between wetlands and the Indian River Lagoon on Hutchinson Island. So helpful to have them notice birds by sight and sound and explain how they could identify them.
Morning light in a spider web.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
This was identified as a Tennessee Warbler. Not a great photo, but a new bird for me so here it is!
A dainty warbler of the Canadian boreal forest, the Tennessee Warbler specializes in eating the spruce budworm. Consequently its population goes up and down with fluctuations in the populations of the budworm.
Black-crowned Night Heron.
Night herons have such big eyes.
Palm Warblers are back in town.
We see lots of these in Sewall’s Point in winter, hopping around on the ground, wagging their tails up and down.
We were surprised and happy to spot a Painted Bunting. Well, I did not notice it – I had help from the other birders! How could I miss such a bright bird?
This is a new bird for me, #192 on the sidebar blog list.
It really let us get a good look (if not a very good photo).
With their vivid fusion of blue, green, yellow, and red, male Painted Buntings seem to have flown straight out of a child’s coloring book. Females and immatures are a distinctive bright green with a pale eyering. These fairly common finches breed in the coastal Southeast and in the south-central U.S., where they often come to feeders. They are often caught and sold illegally as cage birds, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, a practice that puts pressure on their breeding populations.
Cattle Egrets perched up high.
White bird, blue sky.
A bit further down the path, a green (female or immature) Painted Bunting was scuffing around in leaves and grass.
In migration and winter, search for Painted Buntings by targeting sources of seeds such as weedy fields or bird feeders. In the summer, cruise through secondary growth or edge habitats with dense understory and listen for the species’ metallic chip call or the sweet, rambling song of a male. Painted Buntings spend a lot of time hidden in dense habitat so patience might be necessary; however, the wait will be worth it when you finally spot this gem, surely one of North America’s finest songbirds.
Such a pretty green color.
Very exciting for me to see these buntings for the first time!
Great Crested Flycatcher poses nicely in the morning sun.
I do love the summer clouds of Florida.
During our trip to Sanibel Island last week, we also drove through J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge one evening, to compare it with our morning sightings.
The Roseate Spoonbills were actively feeding.
Spoonbills feed in shallow waters, walking forward slowly while they swing their heads from side to side, sifting the muck with their wide flat bills.
Also actively feeding: a Reddish Egret!
Audubon, Reddish Egret…
A conspicuously long-legged, long-necked wader of coastal regions, more tied to salt water than any of our other herons or egrets. Often draws attention by its feeding behavior: running through shallows with long strides, staggering sideways, leaping in air, raising one or both wings, and abruptly stabbing at fish.
I really got into the Reddish Egrets on this trip. They are the rarest herons in North America and Sanibel is one place you can see them.
Along for the ride again, the dawg.
Incidentally, here is one of the dog-friendly things we liked about Sanibel. And it was so hot the whole time that we all needed to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated.
Reddish Egret looks a little funny head-on.
Families were also visiting the refuge in the evening, in search of snook. These folks were also watching a manatee.
We spotted three Reddish Egrets in three different locations, all looking for dinner. All were pretty far away so the photos aren’t great, just good enough.
Really unique coloring.
Feathers on the head and neck look sort of shaggy at times.
Common Grackle nomming the tree berries.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
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.
I saw a brown heron-like bird fly past me and land in a tree by that pond I like in Indian RiverSide Park.
Some sort of juvenile Night Heron – probably Yellow-crowned, I thought.
Oh hey, what’s in the same tree? An adult.
In the animal kingdom, among back-boned animals, their Class is Aves, Order: Pelecaniformes, Family: Ardeidae (herons), Genus: Nyctanassa. The Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Nyctanassa violacea, is the only surviving species in the genus, as the Bermuda night heron is extinct.
The name comes from Ancient Greek words for “night” and “lady” or “queen”, referring to the yellow-crowned night heron’s nocturnal activity and its beauty.
The other night herons around here are Black-crowned and their genus is Nycticorax (“night raven”) with two species on earth living and the rest prehistoric or extinct.
It was Saturday evening and the park was pretty busy, but these birds were not spooked.
Big eyes, like the ones in stuffed toys.
More solitary and often more secretive than the Black-crowned Night-Heron, the Yellow-crowned is still quite common in parts of the southeast. Particularly in coastal regions, often feeds by day as well as by night. Its stout bill seems to be an adaptation for feeding on hard-shelled crustaceans — it is called “crab-eater” in some locales.
A good look.
The adult flew down and stood by the water for a bit, but I left before I saw it catch any dinner.
Well, there’s another one. Juvenile night heron. Yellow-crowned? Black-crowned? It’s so hard when they don’t have their crowns yet.
Perfectly still and nicely camouflaged, at the edge of the retention pond on the corner of South Sewall’s Point Road and Ocean Boulevard.
Sometimes the pond fountain is on, sometimes off. Looking from the Ocean Boulevard sidewalk you can glimpse the town’s nice little park beyond and a bit of the Indian River Lagoon.
Members of Facebook’s “What’s This Bird” IDed this as a Yellow-crowned Night Heron and shared a helpful link: Birdzilla: Juvenile Night Heron Comparison.
A couple of young Laughing Gulls claimed a piling each at Sandsprit Park a few days ago.
Not a lot of bird action these days, with wintering birds gone and nesting season nearing the end. Or am I the lazy one?
The grackle (Boat-tailed) is a reliable presence, easily spotted and willing to pose for portraits. This one found me, flew down from a cabbage palm, landed on a railing by the waters of Manatee Pocket and said, “HERE I AM, LADY.”
Yesterday evening I saw this Yellow-crowned Night Heron near the entrance of the east causeway park of the Ernest Lyons Bridge. I was riding in the passenger seat of the car, with my camera on my lap and simply asked my husband to slow down, then I leaned out the window and click! (Or whatever the digital camera sound is.) That was easy.
It’s my first photo of an adult Nyctanassa violacea! (Order Pelicaniformes, family Ardeidae.)
While not as slender as a typical heron, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron’s smooth purple-gray colors, sharp black-and-white face, and long yellow plumes lend it a touch of elegance. They forage at all hours of the day and night, stalking crustaceans in shallow wetlands and wet fields. Their diet leans heavily on crabs and crayfish, which they catch with a lunge and shake apart, or swallow whole.
Here is a juvenile eating a crab, back in Dec. 2016 when I first moved to this exotic locale.
I surprised this bird on the path to the Indian River Lagoon at Chastain Beach this morning. I think it’s a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
Audubon.org: Learn to Identify and Differentiate Night-Herons
Don’t panic: There are only two.
Night heron getting its stalk on.
It caught a crab!
And ate it whole!
After I took pictures and the bird stalked off into the woods, I got my dog Radar out of the car to swim in the calm lagoon waters. We had a nice walk and ball-throw on the ocean beach, but it was too rough to safely swim. And it just wouldn’t be our typical morning routine if I didn’t bring him home sandy and soaking wet. Must do something about my car today!
Pelicans are such a combination of noble and goofy.