Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod...

Birding Longboat Key, Florida
...continued from the Snowy Egret post.
This little Willet completely captured my heart. He was sleeping hard in the early afternoon sun. All the other Willets in his flock were winking and blinking, looking around, repositioning, preening, etc., but this little guy kept on sleeping. The sun was warm, which was welcome, because a mean wind had been whipping across the sand for days. I had to buy a windbreaker to keep from freezing, so the intense heat coming from the sun that afternoon must have felt like a slice of heaven to the birds--especially this one! I inched my way toward the flock and sank into the sand. The wind-breaker fabric was slick and the sand slid right off it (plus bonus, it was black and was intensifying the heat, so I felt a little bit like winking, blinking and nodding too...). I focused my lens on the sleeping bird and clicked. He immediately opened both eyes and looked at me. I guess he decided I was just another one of those birder types and meant him no harm, because he just as quickly closed his eyes and went back to sleep--doing a perfect Tree posture, naturally.

I love those Florida birds...
These photos were from 3-16-2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Those beautiful Snowy Egrets...

Birding Longboat Key, FloridaA filmy flash of white feathers settled by the side of the road as I was driving on Longboat Key. The movement was so graceful and elegant I had to pull over to see what had landed there. Picking my way carefully down a sandy little path bordered by brush, rocks and stunted trees, I was happy to find a dainty little Snowy Egret tucked away in a shady little cove, already working on the task at hand--fishing. The beautiful bird had chosen the darkest part of the cove to fish in, and his white feathers almost seemed to glow against the deep greens in the background. I just hunkered down and was quiet, watching him as he moved in and out of the shadows eyeing the little silver fish glimmering just beneath the surface of the water.

...only a Snowy Egret can make catching a fish look sexy.

The deep shadows cast from the trees on the wooded embankment softened the scene and made this beautiful bird even more gorgeous.

...slipping through the water, Snowy would lift one slender leg after another, showing off those lovely golden slippers.

...his fluffy plumes being tossed around in the breeze were beautiful. It's easy to see how Snowy Egret populations were decimated during the great millinery feather trade of the mid 1850s and early 1900s. Thank goodness women like Florence Merriam Bailey worked to curb this millinery fashion style, saving our Snowy Egrets from extinction. I climbed back up the sandy little hill, Snowy was still fishing, walking the shallows patient and vigilant.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are you going to eat all of that?

Birding Longboat Key, FloridaThis young American Brown Pelican had to fight for every fish he caught, but he was strong willed and did not lose one fish to the pesky gull trying to steal them away! The gull would sit on top of the pelican's head and wait for the water to drain out of the pelican's gular pouch hoping to nab a fish as the pelican opened his bill to swallow his catch down, but this pelican was very patient, and he would sit in the water with his bill closed until the gull was far enough away, then he would tip his head up and swallow the fish down!

...such a patient little pelican...and the thieving gull was patient too, never losing hope of stealing a fish out of the pelican's gular pouch!

You could see the fish moving around in the pelican's gular pouch, but he refused to swallow them until the gull was out of stealing range!

Friday, June 18, 2010

American Brown Pelicans

Birding Longboat Key, FloridaI'm trying to finish up the photos I took from our spring birding trip to Longboat Key, Florida. Back then, there was no gushing oil well, and the pelicans were all safe...

Once again, I snagged these shots at Quick Point Nature Preserve. I was on the observatory deck and the pelicans were diving all around. It was fantastic watching them dive over and over.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Great Blue Herons face off in a threat display.

Birding Longboat Key, Florida
Evening was falling quickly and the sun’s light was nothing more than a rosy wash over the waters at Quick Point Nature Preserve when Rick, Matty and I arrived to enjoy the last few minutes of the day. A flock of Ibis, several Little Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets, and a single Great Blue Heron were fishing in the shallows. The water was still and the birds were quiet until a second Great Blue Heron decided he wanted to fish right where the first Great Blue Heron had set up camp. As he coasted in for a landing, First Heron immediately showed his displeasure by spreading his wings and raising his head in a warning.

First Heron wasted no time defending his territory and immediately went into a threat display.

...he really does look taller, bigger, and scarier!

First Heron was vehement in his display, and walked around in this posture eyeing the interloper.

Second Heron as he coasted in. You can tell he knows he's up to no good! ;-)

As soon as he landed, Second Heron answered back with his own threat posture, but he wasn't quite as convincing.

He spread his wings...

...and lifted his head, but never quite as high as First Heron.

...a feeble attempt at best! He soon flew off.

First Heron victorious!

Rick, Matty and I really enjoyed watching this behavior. At first we wondered if the two herons were engaging in courtship behavior, but their body language soon let us know it was a threat display. At the heronry in Cincinnati, we've seen a lot of courtship displays in the trees, but we were never lucky enough to witness threat postures and displays because the birds are too timid to fish near humans. I love Florida birds...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Great Blue Heron mug shots...

Birding Longboat Key, Florida know I can never resist a head-on shot. What a mug!

I don't think the colors in this photo are nearly as nice as those in Rick's photos (click here for that post), but they make great mug shots! ;-)

...could you look the other direction now Mr. Blue? Thank you.

This guy was incredible, and obviously soooo NOT from Ohio. He stood and posed and then posed some more. In Cincinnati, he would have squawked and flew off in mortal terror if I had even turned my head towards him at 100 feet. I found him next to my car in the parking lot at the Quick Point Nature Preserve. He almost seemed to greet me with a smile as I walked toward the car. After our photo shoot, I climbed in the car, and he was still standing there when I looked in the rear-view mirror when I left! I love Florida birds... I dragging this Longboat Key trip out or what!! These photos are from back in April, but they're fun, so I thought I'd squeeze them in. For all the Longboat Key bird photos, click here.