Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bahama Birds~

I recently went to the Bahamas for a weekend and wanted to share some of the birds I saw on my trip: Banaquit
Bahama Woodstar
 Yellow-rumped Warbler
 Cuban Grassquit. . the story goes like this: This is an Endemic species to Cuba. In the 1960's an aircraft carrying a consignment of 600 finches from Cuba to Spain made an emergency landing at Nassau. About 200 birds died before they could be released, the rest were set free for humanitarian reasons. They are "feeder" birds and "city" birds, so they have fared well over the years.
I just returned from a fantastic weekend in the Bahamas, and Carolyn, our amazing tour guide, took us all over, and we saw many beautiful species of birds, and got quite the authentic tour of the city streets as well. The is a female Cuban grassquit, and they can be seen in the town of Nassau, @ a gift shop. (I would recommend the tour)
If you go, tell her I recommended her :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wilson's Plover, #50/50

 Its alternate name, Thick-billed Plover, is appropriate, for his large broad, black bill. The male, below, sports a large, wide black breast-band.

Female and male Wilson's Plover, pre-nesting behaviors (it's that time!)  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Greater Yellowlegs, #49/50

 Both yellowlegs are tall elegant shore-birds.  Alert, noisy, and active, they walk briskly or even run in shallow water and bob the head and body emphatically when alarmed.
 Although difficult to tell apart, they are easily distinguished from all other sandpipers by long yellowlegs and long neck, usually graceful actions and simple gray-brown plumage.
 Greater yellowlegs is larger than Lesser yellowlegs, with longer bill ( noticeably loonger than head)

These are one of my favorites or do I say that about every bird? Not true! I wanted to post the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs back to back, as that is the best way to

Lesser Yellowlegs, #48/50

Similar to the Greater Yellowlegs, but considerably smaller.

I enjoyed watching and waiting for this Yellowlegs to walk closer to me @ Eco Pond, Everglades National Park.

Be careful when you are are there in Nature ladies :-) I get so wrapped up in the subject I am enjoying, that I can forget the time of day or often get off the path or track.  On this particular day, I saw a "better view over there" and quickly took a misstep, and fell on slippery mud right by the edge of the water. I laughed, but learned a big lesson!  And the surrounding photographers mentioned seeing a Croc and Rattlesnakes at Eco Pond the weekend earlier~

The Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs do not overlap in size, although this can be difficult to establish in the field unless both species are observed together.  The Lesser's bill is much shorter than the larger species.  I will post both species back to back~

Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Oystercatcher, #47/50

 I spotted this American Oystercatcher off the Dunedin Causeway on my way back from a hike through Honeymoon Island State Park. This was my first time ever seeing an Oystercatcher and I was so excited when I saw the pair.  I parked my car and got my camera together in a hurry, praying they would stay put for a little while.
 As soon as I began walking along the beach area, they noticed me immediately and started walking in the opposite direction.
 I was able to get a few shots - but they flew off after less than a minute. I don't like stressing out any bird just to take  it's picture, but sometimes I wonder if they feel threatened when I kneel down to take their picture?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ruddy Turnstone, #46/50

The Ruddy Turnstone seems to be at almost every beach I go to, so I seem to be taking it's picture a lot!

The Ruddy Turnstone uses it's short upturned bill to flip over rocks in search of food.

I love the orange legs and calico plumage pattern~

Flipping over a shell in search of food~

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Marbled Godwit, # 45/50

The beautiful Marbled Godwit! This was taken from the Dunedin Causeway. 

I love the pink base color on the bill~

I watched a Willet try to snatch her catch - but she ran away with her meal~

These were taken on a chilly January day on Fort De Soto Beach. The Godwit is all tucked in.

Love the buffy/cinnamon underwing colors~

fluffed up

Long-billed Curlew, 44/50

One of my favorites! I found this one @ Fort De Soto Park just this past weekend and the one below in Feb @ Bunche Beach, both locations on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The Long-billed Curlew is usually solitary, and uses his bill to probe deep into the mud, bringing up prey to the surface.

Extremely large, with an extraordinarily long bill. Plain buffy-brown overall, lacking dark crown-stripes of the Whimbrel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Willet, #43/50

This Willet was searching for food by the waters edge near Indian Shores.  I made another stop to the Seabird Sanctuary there and took a walk out back to enjoy the shorebirds that I may find.

The Willet is a large shorebird, pale gray overall, with long bluish-gray legs and bill.

The Willet is a common and abundant resident in southern Florida,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spotted Sandpiper, #42/50

I found this Spotted Sandpiper @ Bunch Beach, Fort Meyers.

Its teetering and bobbing walk is very distinctive.  Forages alone, or in pairs, along margins of both fresh and salt waterbodies. 

This common bird has bright white underparts with black spots, there is a smudge on the side of the neck and the base of the bill is yellow, becoming orange during breeding season. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Piping Plover, #41/50

aaahhhhhh . . . . . .I've been waiting with an eager heart to start on shorebirds.  I chose to open with this precious Piping Plover.  I will tell you his "story" now:

well, it's been said that every one has a "story", and here is mine.

I was spotted on Tigertail Beach, Marco Island FL on 2/25/12, and I am a flagged shorebird.  I am a wild-reared female, hatched @ Sleeping Bear  Dunes in 2010 and banded in 2011 in Manistee, MI. 

Experts say I am a Piping Plover, and birding groups are very interested in me, because my family is endangered mainly due to our extravagant taste for the best beaches to nest on, which is in direct competition with the two legged peeps called homo sapiens.  It has been discovered that the Bahamas is a major wintering ground for my family and many are conducting surveys there. Anyway, back to my life story . . . .

I found the Florida Shorebird Alliance group on FB and uploaded my Banded Shorebird image, and the nice people there jumped right on it and within hours they reported back the story.  I thought it was amazing to learn about the bands.

Captive-reared definition: They take eggs or chicks from the nest because it is in a highly vulnerable position and rear babies to fledge in the wild location.

Interesting facts:

Ashy above and white below, the Piping Plover closely matches the color of the sandy beaches where it occurs. It has a black breast-band and crown patch during breeding season; the legs are orange and the bill black. Breeds in the USA and Canada, WHERE IT IS NOW ENDANGERED owing to habitat destruction, and human disturbance of nesting sites. Winter visitor to southern Florida.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pileated Woodpecker, #40/50

I was sitting in my car, getting ready to leave Loxahatchee NWR, when I heard the ping, ping, ping ping. It was SO loud, I said to myself WHAT IS THAT! and so I got out of the car, looked up and saw this amazing creature, his gorgeous red head blowing in the breeze.  He was continuously pecking, and after just watching him for a few mintues,  I learned to press the shutter  only when his head was up,  and his eye was in the sunlight. This is one of my favorite birds!  This is the male, as he has a red moustachial stripe, the female is below.

Interesting facts:

With the probable extirpation of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in North America and southern Florida. General black color, large size and long red crest. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Red-bellied Woodpecker, #39/50

I spotted this female Red-bellied at Eagle Lakes.  I completely enjoy watching this bird walk around the tree trunk - it seems to have a little hop and appears to "stick" to the tree.  Very enjoyable to watch.

I spotted the male Red-bellied in the same tree as the female @ Eagle Lakes.  At first, I thought it was a Red Headed, but realized it was the male red-bellied.  

Interesting facts:  The most common woodpecker in southern Florida, it inhabits pines, mangroves woodlands and even urban areas. Males have a red crown and nape. The females head is plainer, but it has a red nape and forehead. The red belly patch, from which it takes its name, is usually obscure. It feeds on insects, nuts, fruits and berries, and sometimes stores its food.   Common at feeders where it is very vocal and aggressive.