Sunday, April 19, 2015

Awkward teenage herons

... assuming that about 9 months is a teenager in the heron world.

They're almost more tri-colored as a young birds than they are as adults.

I'm not sure what it went for here, I don't remember if it caught it or not.

The drops of water around the snapped shut bill are fun.

Nearby was a young Little Blue just as the sun hit the beach.  It was nabbing some sort of short fat minnow.

In the early morning light the gray base of the bill gets some pinkish tones.

Speaking of pinkish tones...

the next one is montaged from a few minutes later in the morning.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Osprey vs Eagles

A pair of eagles settled on the beach one of the mornings.  One of the local ospreys took exception and made repeated passes at the eagles who would jump up and extend their talons to ward off the smaller bird.

I thought about titling this post "Because I was inverted," but didn't know how many people would get the 30 year old movie reference.

Another gif...

The eagles flushed eventually, to the consternation of the long-legged waders.

They needn't have worried, the osprey kept the eagles well occupied.





The osprey went right past after driving off the eagles.

Its mate looked on with pride.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Plover don't fly

I wasn't the only one attracted to the concentrations of birds following the tides.  There were good numbers of eagles slowly cruising along (more on them later) as well as a merlin that would strafe the shorebirds.  The merlin would push the sandpipers up to a quarter mile up or down the beach as prey tried to keep their distance from predator.  I accidentally walked right up to a couple Wilson's Plovers after this happened moving at normal speed thinking the beach was empty.

 Instead of flying the Wilson's had hunkered down on the drying mats of seaweed and blended in amazingly well.


This is presumably a first spring bird.

I heard this one calling the day before and tracked it down since I wasn't familiar with the call.

There were also a few Piping Plovers around.  I haven't yet tried to track down the bands on these two birds.


This first spring bird had escaped detection in the nest.

Finally a Black-bellied still in full winter plumage.  They were definitely a bird to be aware given their hair-trigger proclivities for alarm calls.

I saw a few Semi-palmateds around but made very little effort to photograph them.  Almost 13 years ago I found my lifer Snowy Plover across the bay on Sanibel (yes, on my honeymoon), I didn't see a Snowy at all on this trip.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Florida like a tourist

No bird says Florida like the long-legged waders.  I spent some time with them.  I took relatively few pics of White Ibis, but couldn't resist this first year bird as the sun just came over the horizon.


The birds at the beach near the hotel were quite tame and ignored me as I worked my around them to get the sun in the right place in the morning light.


The Little Blue and the Snowy seemed to be trying to nab whatever the ibis displaced.  The birds squabbled a lot less than I expected them to.


They eventually went their separate ways.


The Snowy was a lot harder to meter than the Little Blue


In retrospect I probably should have tried some different white balance settings rather than just sticking with the one I typically use for morning light given the whiteness of the bird.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

the Baddest Shorebird

I'd never seen an Oystercatcher up close before.  They were much bigger than I expected.  Per Sibley heavier than Little Blue or Tricolored Heron, twice as heavy as a teal and a couple ounces bigger than a Wood Duck.


Here it is compared to a Sanderling

A Western gets too close for comfort...

They had a couple different feeding styles, sometimes getting low and probing forward,

at other times sewing like a dowitcher...


They two birds wandered around, I couldn't really get a sense of what they liked to feed in the best, they seemed equally interested in the exposed beach and the last of the tidewater.


Eventually they took flight and moved 30 yards down the beach.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

shorebird reflection shots

Bunche Beach in Fort Myers was a really great place to take pics in the early morning light (what will be a recurring theme over the next 2 weeks).  This is a collection of shorebirds-and-their-reflection.  Most are just starting to get some breeding plumage coming it but are still mostly in their winter drab.


 I'm always surprised by the prehensile billtips of dowitchers (a short-billed in this case)

Dunlins were one of the most common birds and one that I didn't take a ton of pics of

Western Sandpiper on the other hand ...
 I couldn't get over how many Westerns there were along the gulf.  I'm not sure if they were wintering or just stopping over in a leg of their migration. 

I'm going to do an entire post probably on the peeps, I'll stick with these Leasts for now.

I've read that a simple evaluation of whether there's decent light for photography is that your shadow should be longer than you are.  I'm not sure what it says that the Least Sandpipers' shadows were nearly longer than I am

Wilson's Plover wasn't super common but was present most of the mornings.  I kept blowing them off as Semi-palmated's when I'd look with the naked eye since they fell into the brain's search image of "small, brown, one band, bright legs" and nearly filtered them entirely more than once.

no problems with Ruddy Turnstone, nothing else has their bill and legs.