Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wetland Portraits

This is the final post from my Florida trip - a few "portraits."

Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Purple Swamphen
White Ibis

... and my two favorites - one with "attitude," and one with "beauty."

Double-crested Cormorant
Tricolored Heron
Good Birding ! !

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Terns & More

Terns species sought after by birders were returning to their nesting grounds on the keys near Fort Jefferson. - Brown Noddies are flying close to the surface, Sooty Terns higher ...

Both species appeared fully engaged in courtship (bringing food for a potential mate) ...

Sooty Tern
Sooty tern
Brown Noddy
Brown Noddy
 Elsewhere around the island, there were a variety of pelagic and shorebird species. A sampling ...


Royal Tern

Black Skimmer
Good Birding ! !

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nectar Feedering Warbler

Palm Warblers were common everywhere we went in South Florida, including Dry Tortugas. The brown western race seemed to fill the niche which I usually associate with sparrows - low shrub, low branches, open understory, and grassy areas - quite different from what we usually see as these birds make their early return to our northern climes.

What was unexpected, and completely new to me, was to see them drinking nectar.

Brown (Western) Palm Warbler

Good Birding !!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Magnificent Frigatebird

Finally we have made our way down the Florida Keys to Key West, and the to Fort Jefferson  & Dry Tortugas National Park.

The specks in the sky above the Fort are Magnificent Frigatebirds ...

From the top of the ramparts, one is up close and personal with the frigatebirds, though anywhere on the island you can watch the splendid flying ability of these birds.

They "have the longest wings relative to weight of any bird. They endlessly soar high over, never landing on its surface." (Sibley)

Magnificent Frigatebird - male
Audubon said that the "Frigate Pelican is possessed of a power of flight which I conceive superior to that of perhaps any other bird." He also described them as "equally lazy, tyrannical, and rapacious, domineering over birds weaker than themselves." Often described as "aerial pirates," they steal food and nestlings from other birds, and if necessary, will pick marine life out of the water without landing on the surface.

Magnificent Frigatebird - female and male

Magnificent Frigatebird -male

Magnificent Frigatebird - female

Whatever their reputation may be in regards to other birds, they are magnificent aerialists. Here they are preening on the wing ...

Magnificent Frigatebird - male
Magnificent Frigatebird - female
Good Birding !!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Home Remodeling

On an earlier morning walk on the Long Pine Key Trail, we watched Mrs. Pileated busy with home remodeling. Of course, woodpecker are compulsive tree excavators, so this behavior is not confirmation that they are in fact nesting, but let's not allow science to get in the way of a good story.

She was busy drilling out a nest hole that could serve for her family when she was ready to get into the family way. The wood chips were flying!

Every so often, she paused to preen a feather or two, then resumed her home remodeling.

Then she would pause again and look around, as though asking where he no account, not at all helpful mate was.

Back to work.

Her mate, in fact, was quite close by, though to all appearances quite oblivious to the work that she was doing. He seemed content to find the odd morsel among the pine bark, and let her carry on with the house tending as she saw fit.

Good Birding ! !

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Magical Moments

A Magical Moment occurred when we walked the trail at Eco Pond near Flamingo in the Everglades. Butterflies had just taken flight, and it was as though we were walking amid hundreds of ethereal sprites. Southern Whites were most abundant and I wish there were some way I could have captured the magic of their flittering flight, but that is beyond the camera's ability (or at least this cameraman's ability) ....

Southern White
Other butterflies were also common around Eco Pond and in many other locations, providing many moments of  delightful magic ...

Gulf Fritillary

Julia Heliconian

Zebra Heliconian

White Peacock
And then there are the butterflies that are so nondescript and/or small, as to exist almost as a figment of the imagination ...

Two-spotted Skipper

Cassius Blue

Monday, April 13, 2015

Everglades Sampler

I am finally to the Everglades, a uniquely beautiful gem among our National Park system. Many of the birds introduced earlier in this extended blog series were also present in the Everglades. Here I give a sampling of birds not seen - or not photographed - previously in our south Florida travels.

A surprise sighting (and one noted by a naturalist in the Visitor's Center) was this Western Kingbird ...
Western Kingbird

Briefly we watched as 3 Swallow-tailed Kites soared and swooped overhead, a study of winged gracefulness, and one which I wish I could have seen more of ...

Swallow-tailed Kite

Alas, during our Florida travels we had only one encounter with a Roseate Spoonbill, but it was a treat ...
Roseate Spoonbill

The birds of prey were well into their nesting season. We saw Red-shouldered young not long out of the nest. In Flamingo, there were several Osprey nests which were active in incubating or feeding young ...


... and on two occasions, nestling Barred Owls tipped off their presence by hooting for food. ...

Barred Owl (nestling)
Not feathered, but still fauna, were these deer ...

White-tailed Deer
And finally, while driving the keys, we stopped at The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, a funky and fascinating rehab center. High in a tree, a Great Horned Owl kept watch over the visitors ...

Great Horned Owl


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