More birds & a Lifer!

A short drive to Sebastian from St. Augustine – only 3 hours.  A small RV park near the Indian River (which is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a long island).  If we headed north on the main road on the island we would reach Cape Canaveral in about an hour or so!

Nov. 19:  Forecast is pretty iffy with lots of rain over the next few days, but mostly showers & thunder showers.  So it was a day of reconnoitering.  We drove north, west & south to all the parks we could find nearby while clouds threatened around us.  It was STINKIN’ HOT!  High 32 & humidity about 100% – Yikes!  We stayed in the car most of the time, but got out to shoot any excellent photos nearby.

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One of the first birds we identified was this Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a wire on a busy road.  His red shoulder is glowing in the sun.  Bill had to park on the grass off the shoulder.  It’s all about the shoulder!

I can’t resist this study of storks.  They are just the greatest looking birds!  Taking a bath was hilarious – always amuses me, but I loved “storks on the roof”.

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The Ruddy Turnstones were everywhere & not afraid of people.  Do you notice the little pale lilac flowers in the grass?  They are in every lawn we’ve found, sometimes prolific.  I’ll try to find out what they are.

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Juvenile Brown Pelicans rockin’ it.

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Obviously they’re not very fast.  We are actively searching for manatees!

We finally identified a Sandwich Tern – amongst the Royal Terms.  Here he is diving for fish.

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See the pale tip of its bill?  Great stuff Billy!

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Sanderlings are also very common – in winter plumage.

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The other most common shorebird is a Willet – this one caught a small crab.

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The only gull we’ve managed to identify is this Laughing Gull. Gulls are a nightmare to identify – with so many juveniles, it takes a specialized gull book to do it!  I remember my primo, Mur, trying valiantly to identify a gull on the west coast from a book he had.  But I told him that’s is just about impossible if it’s a juvenile.

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We did however, spot a Black Skimmer within this group of mostly Royal Terns resting on shore.  That’s him front & center (small black guy)  with a lower bill longer than upper & a little white face.

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Also spotted – on the road in front of us, was a Common Ground Dove.

Shut in for 3 days with rain.  It didn’t actually rain very much, but it was still stinkin’ hot.  The lows at night were between 22 & 24C – ACK!  Humidity in the 90%-ile range.  Clammy bed, clammy everything.  Towels don’t dry, etc.  YUCK!

Nov. 23:  At last!  It went down to 15C last night – oh joy!  High today forecast to be 21!  Off we went into the sunshine.  There is a wind today, but with these temps, it is just great to be out.

First stop was Turkey Creek Sanctuary, with a long, long boardwalk which winds through the woods & along the creek.  Manatees are seen here regularly – but not by us today.  All the warblers have pretty well gone through (so says the naturalist here).  The only birds we saw were the ever-present Turkey & Black Vultures overhead, & a Cardinal!

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We did however, see 2 other mammals which Bill photographed.  No squirrel so far has stayed still long enough for a pic…until now.

The raccoon was delightful, leaping on top of its prey.

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An interesting red & white fungus on a tree.

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This is reindeer lichen, though we didn’t see any reindeer around.  Likely they wait until Dec. 25th to arrive.

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And these lovely flowers.  The first is the ground cover in the grass we see everywhere.  The 2nd is just another lovley yellow flower!

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We went on to a scrub park looking for Florida Scrub Jays, but found some beautiful Sandhill Cranes (Greater subspecies & likely to live here year round), too close to get their full height (about 3′ tall).  Also saw Mottled Ducks, but didn’t identify them until it was too late to photograph them!  We’ll do it later, because they are a Lifer!

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An Anhinga dried its wings in a bush over the pond.

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Common Moorehens were here also.

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The pond had beautiful lily pads with huge white flowers.

We had by this time walked for 3 hours, so we stopped in town for lunch, then went back to the Inlet to try to photograph pelicans diving.  They were very active today, but Bill didn’t like any of the shots he took, so we’ll return again.

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However, we spotted this not-quite-mature Ringed-bill Gull in our stork pond from the other day.  At this age, their bill is slightly pink & the whole tip is black.

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An Osprey caught a fish.

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This juvenile Snowy Egret was checking for smaller fish from the shoreline.

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We’d seen a Belted Kingfisher earlier & when we returned along the same road it was still there.  This is especially for my friend Natasha who has rendered some beautiful kingfisher art.

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When  we returned to our trailer I took this phto of the shrubs which surround our site.  They’re about 2′ tall.  So pretty with the red mulch, then the grass with the little lilac flowers.  Mexican petunias – or purple shower.

I think this is enough for now.  Will start a new blog tomorrow.

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