Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Reddish Egret

Last week at Fort DeSoto Beach it seems it was my day to see the unusual. Only a very few minutes into my walk down the beach I noticed a heron-like bird I didn't think I'd ever seen before. I guess that's what made it unusual.

It caught my attention with its strange way of flapping its wings and prancing through the shallow waters almost as if it was purposely entertaining on-lookers. There was all of three people on the entire shoreline that early in the morning.
If you've ever seen Sandhill Cranes doing their mating dance you have a good idea of what this lone bird looked like... only it was doing these antics in the shallow waters. And it was obviously foraging for food. It was so interesting to watch. I stopped for a few long minutes to observe and chuckle at my good fortune, took a few photos and resumed my walk.

Definitely the ID had me puzzled. I was thinking maybe it's a juvenile Great Blue Heron ~~~juvenile because the coloring wasn't anything like an adult. I'm not sure I know what a juvenile GBH even looks like... it was just a stab at something.

At the other end of the beach I saw another one.
It wasn't until I got home to do some research that a better identity was evident.

It was decided this fellow must be an adult (I'm thinking non-breeding because of the bill-- but it's just a guess) Reddish Egret, Egretta rufescens.

Here's what my Sibley Guide to Birds book has to say about this intriguing egret:

This relatively large and slender species is usually found singly (check) in expanses of shallow salt water (check), where it is very active, chasing fish on foot, running, jumping, and spinning (check, check, check).

And my Birds of Florida book has more to add:

The Reddish Egret is Florida's rarest and most range-restricted wading bird, although it is fairly common in suitable areas.

I'm glad Fort DeSoto is a suitable area... for the egret and for me.

From the National Audubon Society:

The Reddish Egret is a coastal species with a limited range. Seldom found inland, it breeds along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama, and around both coasts of Florida. In Florida, the birds nest on mangrove keys.

I'm still wondering though ...

who officially names a bird ... Redd-ish??

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marbled Godwit

It never fails that each time I venture to the shoreline something new or new-to-me is sighted. In the first half of my life, birding is not a thing I ever thought would interest me. Although I've always been fascinated with them, their quirky habits and characteristics intriguing me from early on. I've even had caged domestic birds in the past.

Photographing birds brings on a whole new element and dimension to curiosity. It isn't enough anymore to admire from a distance or take the time to observe and wonder at their beauty. Now I want to know their names, their habitat, their status in Florida.

Out and about with my un-fancy equipment I pay attention. Then I do a little research to quench my thirst for knowledge. Time isn't always on my side and often I don't pursue with complete satisfaction. In any case, it is a hobby way down on the list of things that interest me so any information is more than I started with.

A before-dawn drive down to Fort Desoto Beach one morning this week offered a few hours of abundant shoreline activity. This lone Marbled Godwit foraging along with help from its adorable pink-based, upturned bill is an easy one to identify. They use it to probe deeply in the sand for crustaceans, mollusks and worms. Godwits are common migrants that do not breed in Florida. They are typically here from August to April but can sometimes summer here.