Posts Tagged With: clapper rail

Second Honeymoon

(This is a continuation of our last article, Honeymoon.)

 

Same day, same place, same sense of wonder at the diversity of birds!

I used too many words in the first part of this post so let’s just look at some pictures.

 

Just off the beach we found a freshwater pond containing a few Common Gallinules and four Black-crowned Night Herons.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

 

The Herring Gull is one of the largest gulls we see in our area and typically only in the winter.

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

 

American Oystercatchers breed along our Gulf Coast although they are not numerous. They have large flat bills which they use to pry open mollusks. Equal opportunity feeders, they won’t pass up much of anything that looks like food.

American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher

 

An immature Bald Eagle cruised just off the beach searching for a seafood breakfast. They will readily take birds and mammals but seem to prefer fish. They are also notorious thieves, harassing other birds and stealing their food.

Bald Eagle (Immature)

Bald Eagle (Immature)

 

This Osprey has his Speckled Trout meal secured and is heading for a perch away from the Eagle’s prying eyes.

Osprey

Osprey

 

We were surprised on the mudflats adjacent to the beach by an uncommon winter White-crowned Sparrow. He posed for a few candid shots and disappeared into the mangroves.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

 

While we were admiring the above sparrow, a Clapper Rail emerged from the dense reeds searching for crabs and shrimp. These birds are very secretive and are normally heard but not often seen. This is only the second one I’ve observed.

Clapper Rail

Clapper Rail

 

The path from the parking area to the beach yielded a Monarch Butterfly, a Sedge Wren and a House Wren.

Monarch  (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Sedge Wren

Sedge Wren

 

House Wren

House Wren

 

We took a short hike along Osprey Trail, one of the few remaining virgin slash pine stands in south Florida. Guess what we found?

Osprey

Osprey

 

Also along Osprey Trail we encountered a living fossil, the Gopher Tortoise munching his morning salad.

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

 

Returning to the trailhead along a different route we remained under the watchful eyes of an American Kestrel.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

 

 

It was a terrific day. We saw a lot of birds and wildlife and best of all I was able to recall many fond memories. The honeymoon continues …

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

 

Additional Information

Honeymoon Island State Park

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

 

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Mellow In The Marsh

Toward the end of the calendar year, holidays seem to bunch up like Hummingbirds at a freshly filled feeder.  Shopping must be completed!  Menus must be planned!  Parties must be attended!  What’s left of bank accounts must be balanced!

One must approach this potential mayhem by being organized, remaining calm and sensibly prioritizing all that must be accomplished in order to survive this festive season.  As a couple of pragmatic veterans of many, many, many joyous annual celebrations, we instinctively know what we have to do.

Get out of town.

Florida’s “Nature Coast” is an area from Pasco County, just north of the Tampa area to Wakulla County, where the “bend” of Florida’s panhandle begins to head west.  This is not an area (yet) of cartoon-rodent influenced carnival rides, five-star hotels or glistening white-sand beaches bordered by glistening white-painted condominiums.  Instead, one can find vast hardwood swamps, clear rivers fed by underground springs, salt marshes teeming with wildlife, small eateries serving fresh seafood and actual native Floridians (an endangered species) going about their lives secretly hoping the highways will become overgrown with weeds and cut them off from any further invasion of “civilized” society.

That’s where we spent a glorious day recently instead of going to the mall.  Yes, we do feel guilty.  Extremely.

We arrived in the Bayport area just as the rising sun touched the expansive salt marsh along the drive to Pine Island.  The grass took on the golden glow of the winter dawn and we just sat still and took it all in.  The grass seemed to come alive as wading birds began to call and crabs scurried across the mud hoping the tide would soon return to help them hide.  Bald Eagles, Ospreys and Northern Harriers soared overhead in their patient search for the first meal of the day.    From the fishing pier at Bayport, we watched squadrons of Brown Pelicans splash down in the shallow water, scooping up gallons of small fish.  Terns and Gulls wheeled noisily above us and a pair of Horned Grebes floated and dived in the deeper waters of the boat channel.  A Green Heron stood motionless in the reeds waiting for a blue crab to become careless.  In the picnic area is a stand of hardwood trees which makes a fine place to find songbirds.  In just a few minutes, we saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, Palm Warblers, Pine Warblers, Black and White Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, White-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmice, Northern Cardinals, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers and Eastern Phoebes.  Our early lunch sandwiches were enjoyed under palm trees with an unobstructed view into the seemingly infinite blue water of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was Winter and warm and the soft sand begged us to go barefoot.  Butterflies gathered nectar from bright, blooming flowers all around us, birds filled the air with joyful noise and we were utterly alone in our mutually shared universe of happiness.  THIS is our holiday.  THIS is our realization of how blessed we are.

Here are a few images of our day.  We hope your holiday season is full of peace and joy!  See you next year!

 

The salt marsh takes on a special glow at sunrise.

Salt Marsh

Salt Marsh

 

Wood Storks are known locally as “Flinthead” due to the gray coloration of the skin on their heads.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

 

We were fortunate to find a Clapper Rail at the edge of some reeds.  These birds are much more likely to be heard than seen.

Clapper Rail

Clapper Rail

 

A Greater Yellowlegs found a tidal pool and ran around like crazy trying to corral small fish.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

 

Bright orange Gulf Fritillaries added a splash of color to the marsh.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

 

Bayport Park has a very nice new picnic area and boardwalk.  Here we found a half-dozen Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Female)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Female)

 

Yellow-rumped Warblers liked the picnic area, too.  This one was curious about what I was doing there in the middle of winter.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

Even the visiting Monarch butterflies enjoy a day at the beach!

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

 

This purple beauty is the Glade Lobelia and was quite prolific in the ditches along a back road.

Glade Lobelia (Lobelia glandulosa)

Glade Lobelia (Lobelia glandulosa)

 

Non-breeding plumage of the Sanderling helps it to blend in with the light-colored beach sand.

Sanderling

Sanderling

 

Dozing Dunlin duo.

Dunlin

Dunlin

 

One of my favorite Florida natives enjoys fresh fish almost as much as I do.  This Osprey just caught a mullet and found a handy buffet table in the form of a dead tree branch.  He stared at me for a bit just to let me know he would NOT be offering me any of his lunch!

Osprey

Osprey

 

This has been a spectacular year in our lives and we feel enriched to a large degree by all the kind friends we have made through this amazing medium of “blogging”.  Thank you all so very much for your positive response to our humble efforts.

 

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

Gini and Wally

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: