Posts Tagged With: rainbow

After The Storm

There are times, more and more frequently lately, I sound like an old person. Not the wise old person of biblical or vintage movie standards. More like the pessimistic curmudgeon we all encounter at some point and vow to never, ever become. Driving in darkness the other morning towards the salt water should have filled me with joy and anticipation. However, I heard myself declare, to no one in particular: “I really don’t like technology sometimes.” From the other side of the vehicle I heard a little sigh. Gini was pretty sure I would be following up with more information and knew she didn’t need to prod any further. That little sigh was enough encouragement for me to bemoan the invention of intermittent windshield wipers. “Used to” I continued, “you could just turn ’em on and hum any song you wanted and match the beat to the steady rhythm of the wipers.” “Now you not only have to fiddle with the things constantly, they never match any tune at all.” Newer cars even have moisture sensors and the blame things spring into life the moment a Hummingbird breathes on the car and the driver is so startled it’s a wonder there aren’t more single-car accidents at the sudden surprise.

The weatherman promised the thunderstorms would move inland shortly after sunrise. I kept seeing flashes of lightning to the west and the rain along our journey was light (resulting in the wipers having to be set on the slowest setting, not suitable for humming even a dirge). By the time we crossed the last major highway and eased onto the quiet stretch of backroad to the coast, the rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to lighten with the coming dawn. That weatherman is a genius.

This particular backroad is better than many. Its serpentine design won’t allow one to travel very fast and punishes those who try with a saltwater and mud car wash. Salt marsh on either side of the road for miles with an occasional hammock of oak and palm trees – all roads should be like this! Everything seemed fresh after the cleansing thunderstorms roared in from the Gulf of Mexico during the night. We had hoped to spot a Clapper Rail as we have previously but it was high tide and there was too much water for wading birds. We would return later in the day as we planned to enjoy Gini’s picnic lunch on the small beach at Pine Island at the end of this road. In the meantime, we savored the salt marsh and were treated to several rainbows celebrating the passing of the storms, delicious cloud formations, a Bald Eagle welcoming the rising sun, the salt air aroma and warm, moist breeze moving across the marsh.

We visited nearby Bayport Park and found a few warblers in the picnic area, Belted Kingfishers, more Bald Eagles, gulls, terns and an amazing variety of fungus. By the time we eventually hit the beach for our picnic, a few clouds gathered overhead and a small shower accompanied our lunch. As we relaxed under a covered table, the Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns treated us to a loud chorus while we ate and the rain and lunch were over at the same time. We explored a couple of parks we had not been to previously and as the sun headed to its resting place so did we. It was another Good Day!

I know you keep thinking if a picture is worth a thousand words why doesn’t he just skip all those unnecessary words?? A good question. As I ponder the answer, here are a few of those pictures.

 

As the clouds began to clear just at sunrise, the early morning light confirms the Bald Eagle is not a bad looking bird at all.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 

The vast salt marsh, an island hammock, lingering storm clouds and a rainbow. What a way to start your day!

Morning On The Marsh

Morning On The Marsh

 

Salt Marsh

Salt Marsh

 

A fishing boat heads to port bathed in multi-colored light.

Rainbow Boat

Rainbow Boat

 

True to their name, these flowers declare: “Morning Glory”!

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

 

An immature Royal Tern begs for food. I think Mom flies away often not so much to search for food as to get a little relief from that incessant whining.

Laughing Gull, Royal Tern

Laughing Gull, Royal Tern

 

A Willet scans the edge of the tide for anything that looks like breakfast.

Willet

Willet

 

This Least Sandpiper appears to still be leaning against the wind of last night’s storm.

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

 

Size, large bill, black and white plumage – all help to identify the Black-bellied Plover.

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover

 

At Bayport Park, every few feet we found a new variety of fungus. (Please tell Gini that I completed this entry without any reference whatsoever to anything resembling a pun. She still won’t believe you, though.)

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

 

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

 

During our rainy lunch, a Laughing Gull dropped by in anticipation of a handout. He was quite disappointed to discover we were not the tourists he is used to hassling for a bit of hot dog bun.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

 

After the rain, a Snowy Egret really stands out against the wet bright green foliage.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

 

As we departed Pine Island for home, we enjoyed a view of the Gulf of Mexico and a Great Blue Heron shopping for supper.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 

Long ago we learned to not let the weather interfere with our exploration. We hope you will discover that some of the best memories occur after the storm. Just try to drive with your wipers set on one speed so they can keep up with your singing!

 

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

 

Additional Information

Bayport Park

Alfred McKethan/Pine Island Park

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

An Evening In The Marsh

One definition of opportunity is:  a favorable combination of circumstances, time, and place”.  I was recently presented with an “opportunity” to go birding in a very unique area.  I thought about it for, oh, about 3 seconds and said “yes, please”.  A large group was to be provided a tour of the area and I was to be part of a small scouting party the day before in order to determine what birds might be available for viewing.

A project has been under way for several years to create a wetland mitigation area on the south side of Lake Hancock in Lakeland, Florida.  The Southwest Florida Water Management District oversees the project.

Basically, water will be pumped from the south shore of Lake Hancock and flow through three “cells”  planted with vegetation which filters impurities from the water.  The result will be improved water quality from Lake Hancock into Saddle Creek which will ultimately flow into the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor.  The newly created wetlands consists of approximately 1,000 acres and will eventually be opened to the public.

We started late in the day (3:00 p.m.) and dodged rain showers most of the afternoon.  Despite the weather, our tally at sundown was 63 species observed.  Over 3,000 American White Pelicans chose to roost here this evening!  We also saw 12 species of ducks, over two dozen American Avocets, over two dozen Black-necked Stilts, heard at least ten Soras calling and found a good mix of additional birds.  Other animals also apparently like the place as we found tracks of raccoons, opossums, white-tailed deer and wild hogs.  There are plenty of alligators and snakes here as well.

As the weather settled down, so did the birds and the sound of Barred Owls echoing across the marsh provided an exclamation mark as to how special this area is becoming.

 

Some American White Pelicans spend the winter in central Florida and their numbers fluctuate locally from year to year.  They apparently liked what they found this year.  Our conservative estimate was at least 3,000 Pelicans roosting here on the day we visited.

First, there was one.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

Then, a line formed.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

Soon, the word had spread.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

Chaos as choice spots were fought over.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

A bit of pushing and shoving to establish personal space.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

The crowd pays attention as the Head Pelican explains the rules of deportment.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

A late-comer finds it a challenge to locate an open spot for landing.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

The early birds show from whence came the expression:  “slept like a rock”.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

If you endure enough rain storms, you will eventually get to enjoy a rainbow.

Rainbow

Rainbow

 

As the sun made an appearance late in the day, Tree Swallows began their forays over the water for supper just prior to roosting for the night.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

 

Black Skimmers likewise went on the prowl for small fish foolish enough to be too close to the surface.

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer

 

Even more Pelicans began to arrive just at sunset.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

A quartet of American Avocets relax and prepare for bed.

American Avocet

American Avocet

 

As night began to assert itself over the marsh – a true birder’s thoughts turn to one thing – there MUST BE OWLS OUT HERE!

Sunset

Sunset

 

If you’re in central Florida in the future, check to see if this area has opened to the public yet (not sure of the estimated date) and don’t miss this very special opportunity!

 

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: , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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