New Wetlands Survey – Part Two

(This is a follow-up report on a “new” wetlands being developed.  See the report of our initial visit in the post, “I, The Beholder“.)

 

Hello.  My name is Wally and I’m a curmudgeon and it’s been eight days since I last curmudged.  At least, I feel that way at times.  When a salesman arrives at the door ready to deliver his polished presentation, I normally cut them off with a curt “not interested” followed by a quick shutting of the door.  Same with phone calls.  The poor souls never get a chance to read more than a sentence of their “surefire sale” script.  The dictionary defines curmudgeon as:  “a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man”.  Yep.  That’s me once in awhile.  Especially the “usually old” part.  I’m trying to improve.  That’s why Gini usually handles our public relations department.

Of course, one does not dare NOT answer the door.  It might be opportunity!  Thus it was recently.  Well, to be honest, opportunity didn’t actually knock at the door.  It emailed.  I was invited to participate in a second survey of bird life at a wetlands being developed to see if there was much change from our first endeavor in September.  (Maybe I’m not a lost cause yet – these folks KNOW me and actually invited me back!)  I jumped at the chance.  The area is not yet open to the public and this would be a rare opportunity to observe a relatively undisturbed environment.  There are three man-made “cells” which have been planted with natural-filtering vegetation.  The cells are dug to varying depths  allowing for shallow water waders as well as deeper water diving birds.  Water is pumped from an adjacent large lake, held for a time in one cell while natural filtration occurs, pumped to a second and then third cell where the process is repeated.  The cleaned water is then pumped into a creek which flows into a river which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.  Man imitating nature trying to reverse the pollution man caused.  A noble effort.

We met at dawn and by mid-afternoon had circumnavigated the area and ended with a very impressive tally of birds enjoying this wonderful “new” wetlands.  The total species count was 96.  Included in the count:  45 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, over 400 Blue-winged Teal, 50 Northern Shoveler, 25 Wood Stork, 100 American White Pelican, 110 Great Egret, over 160 Snowy Egret, 350 Glossy Ibis, 11 Sora (a conservative count, mostly heard), over 200 American Coot, over two dozen Black-Necked Stilt, over 20 American Avocet, 20 Lesser Yellowlegs, 40 Long-billed Dowitcher, an uncommon inland Dunlin, 120 Least Sandpiper, 70 Cattle Egret.  Among Passerines were: Black and White Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow.  Representing the Raptors:  Osprey, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel and a Barred Owl.

Whew!  No wonder I went home tired!

Once complete, this will be an outstanding venue for the public to enjoy a day in nature and, hopefully, realize how important it is to preserve such places.

Please enjoy a few images of our day.

 

American Avocets and Long-billed Dowitchers busily probed the shallow water for breakfast.

American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher

American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher

 

Least Sandpipers seem to fly as a single unit, responding to some unseen signal as they wheel, glide and land together.

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

 

A few Blue-winged Teal look for a spot of open water among the grass to settle down.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

 

There was a nice variety of winged creatures other than birds, too, such as this Four-Spotted Pennant.

Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida)

Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida)

 

Throughout the day, Osprey let us know the fish population in the newly created ponds was quite robust.

Osprey

Osprey

 

A flock of White Ibis in the bright blue sky circled for awhile trying to find a “vacant” parking spot in which to forage.

White Ibis

White Ibis

 

Scarlet Skimmers brightened up the landscape as these large dragonflies hunted for smaller prey.

Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis servilia)

Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis servilia)

 

The air seemed to be filled with birds all morning.  A small group of American Avocets move to a less crowded shallow sand bar.

American Avocet

American Avocet

 

This young Red-shouldered Hawk seemed to be still a bit sleepy as the rising sun reminded him it was time to get busy.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Immature)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Immature)

 

A Long-tailed Skipper probes the pretty flower of an invasive nuisance plant, Ceaser’s Weed (Urena lobata).

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

 

The bright male Roseate Skimmer seems like a neon advertisement for Dragonfly makeup.  The female is not nearly as gaudy looking.

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) - Male

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) – Male

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) - Female

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) – Female

 

A pair of Long-billed Dowitchers show their beautiful plumage, including the characteristic white wedge on their backs.  (The Short-billed Dowitcher also has this wedge.)

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

 

We were fortunate to spot an American Bittern.  This one shows why they’re easily overlooked.  When sensing a threat, they point their bills skyward and “freeze”.  This position, along with their striped plumage, allows them to blend in nicely with the surrounding grass.  They’ve even been known to sway if it’s windy in synchronization with the grass to lessen their chances of being seen.

American Bittern

American Bittern

 

The female Eastern Pondhawk is really bright green and the male is a more subdued powder blue.

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

I believe this is a member of the Baskettail species, possibly Epitheca?  Any help in a correct identification would be very much appreciated.

Baskettail sp. (?) (Epitheca ?)

Baskettail sp. (?) (Epitheca ?)

 

The Barred Owl is a denizen of the swampy woods and it’s not unusual to see them in the daytime.  This one was very alert to our presence but didn’t flush.  He appeared to keep his right eye partially closed, due, I think, to the strong sunlight coming from that direction.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

 

 

Although I may continue to have my curmudgeonly moments, I hope I’ll still at least answer the door just in case another opportunity comes to call.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

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56 thoughts on “New Wetlands Survey – Part Two

  1. Heh, thanks for the much-needed smile…. No curmudgeon could see or capture such beauty! 🙂

  2. Wally, if this is just the beginning, think of what treasures the future holds!

  3. Hi Wally, I am so jealous of the birds you see, love the avocet. I guess nature is the one thing we can count on. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. cheers.

  4. hi Wally. What a magnificent post with great shots. love the Avocets, Owl and Hawk shots.

  5. Wally, you have the best good fortune on finding and photograhing so many interesting birds, not to mention Dragonflies. Absolutely stunning array of great nature subjects. You know I must choose your Red-Shouldered Hawk as a top favorite though 😉 Very nice piost~

  6. Wow!!! Great photos! The “in flight over water” shots are stunning!

  7. Love the verb curmudge!
    Beautiful post full of birds and other flying creatures.

    • Pat, that’s one advantage of aging – I can make up words and not too many folks argue with me! 🙂
      Thank you for the gracious comments.

  8. Wonderful post Wally — I really need to see those avocets…. loved everything. Even your curmudgeonness (sp?)……. I thought the owl was winking at you.

  9. I just love those Avocets. Thanks for sharing all of this wonderful world.

  10. Hello Wally!
    What a beautiful array of different subjects!
    I enjoyed detailing your dragonflies, quite different from those we have here in France!
    Funny hox “orthemis” seems like a contraction of orthetrum and themis since Orthemis ferruginea looks really like a mix of both families with a thorax of Trithemis annulata and the abdomen on Orthetrum brunneum!
    I must coma back one day to the States and look for the dragons there!
    Cheers, keep well!

  11. A beautiful collection of winged creatures, great and small, all new varieties to me.

  12. Carole M.

    Hi Wally! I can’t imagine you’re a crochety-old-man at all; but it makes the story line fun; I’d never heard of the curmudgeon term before today and it’s good to learn ‘something’ every day. Now I need to remember curmudgeon – I’ll remember the crochety-old-man bit but ‘the word’ might be hard to remember. Such an interesting post – I’m glad that chance came by your door; what a nice surprise and that wetland will make for a wonderful public facility in time too. You got some wonderful photos of beautiful birds.

  13. What a great day out, and a fabulous variety of birds and dragons!

  14. You still have dragons? I suppose that is just a fringe benefit of living down where it is warm. Our Barred Owls are a little puffier…staying warm!

  15. Awesome series of images, birds and dragonflies. The barred owl is a great sighting and capture. The shot of the teals in flight is one of my favorites. Happy Birding!

    • I’m afraid I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store – didn’t know which goody to go after first! Thank you for visiting, Eileen!

  16. Wow an great trip and post. 96 species on a day shows that the renaturation is working.

  17. Wally you make me laugh, not at you but of course with you. My better half thinks I am a cantankerous old B to. I think I am a realist especially where BOGOFF offers, door knockers etc are concerned.

    96 species is highly impressive so I am distraught at some of your totals and species. The two dowitchers in flight is a classic but is that sleepy old wise owl any relation of yours?

    • Yeah, Phil, achieving that number of species in a day can spoil one! The owl and I DO resemble each other – rumpled and squinty-eyed. 🙂

  18. So nice to study your post, so much to see!

  19. Great to hear of an effort to replace lost wetlands with new ones and also to clean up the water. Your list of birds show that the wildlife certainly approves of the area. Great photos as usual!

  20. I have yet to see an american bittern…seen the least bittern…and I look forward to spotting one on my own some day….LUCKY YOU!! Love all, but I really really liked the teal ducks in flight.

  21. Wow what a post. I enjoyed your opening paragraph, made me smile. But seriously what a day out you took up, what a place, and what a species count…. fantastic day all round! I am sure people will eventually get to share even better days in the not too distant future.

    dave

  22. One of the most hopeful things I’ve heard about in some time. All good. Thanks for that barred owl photo. I would love to get a good look at the ones around here that hang out in the stream bed area. Their calls are goosebump-producing, magnificent.

    • It’s a pretty neat concept, Sister! And it appears to be a successful blend of water purification and providing a great habitat as well. Listening to Barred Owls calling during mating season is pretty awe-inspiring!

  23. You don’t have to be old to be curmudgeon – although my kids tell me I’m both!

    So much for bird song! I was woken up today by the sound of the house over the road being knocked down! I kid you not!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  24. That seems like one hugely successful environmental venture, Wally!! I’m astounded that you found so many species there.

    Your photos and comments are inspiring, but you’ll not be surprised to hear that the last image, of the Barred Owl, is my favourite!

  25. Excellent photos! I love the dragonflies. Looks like you had an awesome day.

  26. So many great shots! Is this all the way on the east side of Florida? I hope it’s more central. I need a new place not too far away. Sounds like it’s going to be great.

    PS. We never open the door, unless we know the person.

  27. You made me laugh about being a curmudgeon. I highly doubt it, but it was funny anyway. *smile*

    I always learn something from you, Wally! I did not know that the female roseate skimmer wore camouflage colors! And I’m so utterly jealous of your shot of the scarlet skimmer. 🙂 Beautiful birds here–what a variety! The first shot of the avocets and dowitchers is so beautiful.

    • Thank you very much, Gail! It was a situation where there was so much to look at I didn’t know what to photograph first. Fun!

  28. love the graceful avocets. and the barred, too! 🙂

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