On to Florida!!!

(OK – THEY JUST UPDATED THE SYSTEM.  I CAN NOW ADD PHOTOS FULL SIZE – AS I USED TO.  I’M SO HAPPY!  MATTER OF FACT, I’VE GONE BACK & FIXED THE ENTIRE SEQUENCE SINCE WE LEFT CANADA!

Nov. 10:  Left Jerry & Dale’s about 9 AM.  Drove through the rest of NC, all of SC & into GA.  Stayed overnight at the KOA south of Savannah.

Nov. 11:  Drove to St. Augustine FL – At last we’re talkin’ birding!!!  After a good night’s sleep we headed over to the Guano River where there is an Estuarine preserve with miles of walking trails.  At one of the piers we saw Brown Pelicans, Royal Terns, Willets, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, & Snowy Egrets.  All were silhouetted against the sun, so no photos (but we’ll get ’em later!)image

We did spot this juvenile White Ibis preening in a bush.  (No, he’s not white yet but he will be!)

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At first I was sceptical that we’d see anything since the woods were pretty quiet & all we saw was this interesting caterpillar with the 2 dark “eyes” at the front.  But we eventually came to an open swampy area.

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At last we found some birds – & what a great treat!  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks!  If you have a bird app you will hear why they’re called whistling ducks!  First we just saw their bright pinky-orange bills in the grass – then we saw some out in the open.  Must’ve been about 50.  Interestingly, we ran into a 79-year-old man out birding who’d only seen them for the 1st time here last year.  He’s been birding for 50 years in FL!  We, of course, saw them in TX the last couple of years.  The sad part is that they normally see Fulvous Whistling Ducks also – but we didn’t see them (yet).  They would be a lifer!  So we live in hope!

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The forest is mostly short-leafed pines.  But as we walk though we hear all these little “thunks” – because there are walnut trees & it is the season for them to ripen & fall.  Also betel palms & the betel nuts are falling (“Bloody Mary’s chewing betel nuts….” – for anyone who knows the words to all the songs in “South Pacific” like me!)

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And finally an Egret (Snowy)!

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One of the common birds around here is an Eastern Phoebe.  Here’s one now.

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Came across a Lincoln Sparrow (which are pretty common around NA – but since we couldn’t find a Salt Marsh Sparrow or Seaside Sparrow, it’ll have to do!  (Keep fingers crossed for these other 2 lifers!)

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Bill kiindly agreed to take this photo of a southern toad.  It’s about 4″ long.  (I hate to ask him for flowers, butterflies & other things besides birds!)

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We did see an Osprey hunting one of the marshes.  There were Turkey & Black Vultures flying around – as well as Bald Eagle, Amer. White Pelican & Magnificent Frigatebirds.  All too far away to photograph this time.

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On the way back we coudn’t resist another, closer shot of the BBWD’s.  We quit by noon since it was stinkin’ hot – over 30C!  But what a wonderful thing it was to get out birding!

Nov. 13:  My darling Janie’s BD!  Sent her a quick email sending wishes before we left.  Same place again, since we’d sussed it out.  Also stopped along the beach where there was a parking area & amongst the fishermen on the shore, we spied a group of Ruddy Turnstones & Sanderlings (both common here).

It was what we called a banner day!  Cooler today – though we walked for at least 3 hours again, there was a breeze also – with temp 21C!  Yay!

Here are the photos I asked Bill to take for me.  He’s such a good sport about it he deserves lots of credit for indulging me! (Sometimes I take them with my iPhone, but they’re not the same quality.

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A spider high in the canopy – about 40′ up.

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Gecko in a bat box.

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White butterfly with elecric blue antennae tips.

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A Saw Palmetto leaf with 30 individual spikes on it.  .

We heard a Great-horned Owl hooting in the woods.  Never could spot it, but no doubt what it was.  Sure hoped for a Barred Owl or something else more exotic (ha!  birders – ever the optimists!).

There was a flock of little birds high in the canopy (i.e. hard to identify), but we managed to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinlet & probably a Baltimore Oriole.  Too high for photos.

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However, one thrill was to finally get photos of the beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler.  1st photo shows its yellow throat – 2nd a bit from the side.  It isn’t a lifer, since we finally chased one down in TX – but we were unable to get a photo.

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This Great Egret flew off when we got near, but landed high in a tree top.  He’s pretty against the blue sky.

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On the way past the BBWD’s (whistling ducks) we found a Palm Warbler, which we usually find at one end of Waskesiu each spring!

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Bill couldn’tresist a couple more shots of the BBWD’s including their interesting wing pattern (R).

Nov. 14-15:  Work days for Bill & cleaning/laundry for me.

Nov. 16:  Out again!  Anastasia State Park.  A bit of a bust in the walking dept. but still got some new birds.

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The coastal trees are shaped by the winds.

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Some groupings have a nice symmetry.

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The soft grass is a contrast to the colorful flowers.

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There are veils of Spanish moss in the forests.

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These are called pretty berry – how appropriate & what a great fuschia color.

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Wood Storks have been talked about in every bit of birding litarature we’ve seen – but we haven’t seen one for several years now (not for lack of trying).  At last we were rewarded!  Not only that, but when we returned to this particular spot, there were people fishing & a storK & an egret were “begging” for fish guts (or whatever) & were right beside the people.  Such ancient looking beasts.

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Speaking of ancient looking beats – here’s the “ET” look-alike in the flesh – a gopher tortoise.  They dig burrows which are used by over 350 other species!  They are currently listed as threatened & there are signs warning motorists to watch for them crossing the road.  Which is exactly what happened here – we saw it in the middle of the road, turned around, stopped the truck & Bill got out to photograph it.

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Along the coast we’ve seen lots of Ruddy Turnstones.  One of the nicest markings of all the shorebirds, even in winter plumage.

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We drove around some of the residential areas looking for parrots – but all we came across were White Isib (yes – mature adults & they’re white!)  The 2nd shot shows one throwing an insect back into its throat after that long, curved bill picks it up.

A day of work/cleaning/laundry, then we’re off Wednesday to Sebastian!

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