I saw the first yellow flowers on our snow crocuses today and the green daffodil shoots are starting to come up. But while we are waiting for spring to come to Chicagoland, Dan and I took a short trip to Florida and enjoyed the sunny weather! I did my best to identify some of the birds we saw on this trip.
Reddish egret on Sanibel Island. One day we visited the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Looking at the bird guide they gave us this picture looks like a reddish egret.
Nearby were several groups of white pelicans.
I believe this is a willet resting on a stump near the shore.
This shot shows that many of the birds were on sand bars or in shallow waters, where they were resting or fishing. These lakes or bays were surrounded by tall mangroves.
We walked on an observation boardwalk into one of the red mangrove areas. I love the reflections on this picture.
We observed a tiny snake on one of the mangrove branches.
Looking closely we noticed little mangrove tree crabs crawling on the branches.
We almost missed the yellow-crowned night heron in the shade of the mangroves. They like to eat the mangrove tree crabs!
Can you see the tail on the male horseshoe crab? We saw a larger female horseshoe crab near the mangrove boardwalk, but could not get a picture.
Dan saw this hawk fly into the trees and was trying to get a picture. We thought it was a red-shouldered hawk, which would be a first for me.
Dragonfly resting in stream.
We spent some time visiting beaches and the shorebirds seemed to be visiting some of the beaches, too. Besides the herring and ring-billed gulls, this shot includes a black skimmer and some royal terns.
We saw osprey nesting wherever we went.
This great blue heron had found a nice perch in a pond at the Lemon Bay Park in Englewood, where we visited one afternoon.
Also seen at the pond was this bird, which I think is an eastern phoebe.
We saw some really fun birds when we visited the Six Mile Cypress Slough on our last full day in Florida.
Starting at Gator Pond we saw many sunning double-crested cormorants, along with egrets, herons, and osprey.
It was a cool, but beautiful morning in the cypress woods and the ferns were wonderfully verdant. We saw a downy woodpecker and heard that someone had seen a pileated woodpecker. I had never seen one, so was on the look out.
Pileated woodpecker at Six Mile Cypress Slough near Fort Myers, Florida.
A barred owl was sleeping away the morning.
At Otter Pond a green heron was looking for breakfast.
From this angle you can see the minnows swimming in the water. The heron was intently watching for just the right fish to swim by.
Nearby a white ibis had something in its bill it was working on as we watched.
Apparently these are apple snail eggs, that are an introduced species.
Nesting near Otter Pond was a limpkin, another first ever bird for me. Limpkins eat apple snails, so help to keep a check on this species, and that is why they are nesting here.
An alligator found a sunny place to digest its breakfast.
A turtle was warming up on a log. I like the way the back feet are stretched out.
One of the magnificent, old cypress trees was putting on fresh green leaves.
We practiced trying to get shots of warblers, but missed more than we were successful. Once we got a picture we were not sure what kind of warbler it was. Maybe this is a palm warbler, but not sure.
We decided to fit in one last visit to the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, which we visited a few years ago.
A female anhinga was drying its wings in the sun at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
A great egret was fishing as it stalked between giant old cypress trees. We saw a number of giant trees blown down due to hurricane Irma. One part of the boardwalk was broken and closed down, but there were wood storks nesting there, so that was a good reason to keep visitors out.
I zoomed way out to catch a little blue heron hunting on lettuce lake.
At that point I was distracted by an alligator swimming up near to the boardwalk. The little kids near us were thrilled.
We looked into a scope on the side of the boardwalk and saw this snake.
One of the posted signs explained that first people were afraid of the swamp, then greed made them exploit it for feathers and lumber, and to drain it for land. But now there is a greater understanding of the function the swamp plays in our ecosystem, as water purification, flood control and habitat.
I am thankful for those who have preserved places like this for us to enjoy and for the trees and swamp to provide habitat for so many species that have decreased rapidly. I see that there is a need for the millions (billions?) of domesticated cows, chickens, dogs, and cats, but surely these other wild species are valuable as well.