On Tuesday, leaving Johnny to sleep-in (do you notice a trend here?) Bill and I decided to walk the entire perimeter of Harns Marsh. We were told it was a little over 2 miles - but it was closer to 5 miles. The day was cool, we took our time and saw LOTS of birds - we counted almost 3-dozen different varieties and I'm sure we missed some.
I took this picture of a Wood Stork but it wasn't until I got home that we noticed the three Limpkin in the background. We saw several more storks and both heard and saw lots of Limpkin on our walk.
This was a pleasant surprise - a large group of Roseate Spoonbills. The vivid-pink stripe indicates they are adults.
These large birds have beautiful pink and white feathers; long ruby-red legs; a greenish, bald head; and, long, dark, flat spoon-shaped bills.
These are yellowlegs - named for their bright yellow legs. I don't know if they are Lesser Yellowlegs (11 inches tall) or Greater Yellowlegs (14 inches tall) since both types are very similar. My book says if they stand side-by-side I would see a "distinctive" difference but I'm not so sure...
You can see how beautiful the marsh is - lots of shallow blue water and grassy islands. Here a Tricolored Heron and Great (white) Egret seem to be enjoying the day as much as we were. It's interesting to see them side-by-side and compare sizes.
One of the very special treats of the day was seeing a pair of endangered Snail Kites. This one had just found something to eat. Harns March has lots of large freshwater snails which is their primary food.
The other Snail Kite sat still on a branch overlooking the water for a long time before flying away. We were able to sneak closer than we ever have before. In flight, you can see a white band on the dark tail feathers. Their bills, legs and feet are orange.
There was a large group of Blue-winged Teal swimming around looking for food. The males have the white vertical stripe at the base of their bills. We also saw Mottled Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe and lots and lots of Coot - the small black ducks with the white bills.
Another surprise: a River Otter! My sister, Beth will be so-o jealous!
After checking us out, he turned and disappeared into the grasses.
White Isis are very common. We see them along the highways, by the lakes and at the nature preserves we frequent. During the breeding season, their long curved bills, facial skin, legs and feet turn bright red.
This is also an ibis. We do not see Glossy Ibis as often - although there were quite a few at Harns Marsh this trip. He may look all black, but in the sun you can see iridescent shades of blues and purples. During breeding, his neck and chest will be a warm chestnut color.
We never get tired of seeing the Osprey. Also known as "Fish Hawks" they are usually perched on a snag or tree by water looking for fish. We also saw several Red-shouldered Hawks.
This small, colorful falcon is an American Kestrel. I tried to get closer for a better picture, but he kept moving further away and I did not want to stray too far off the path for fear of stepping on a snake.
We are not quite sure what this hawk is but both Bill and I have tentatively identified it as a Broad-winged Hawk.
There were lots of little birds in the trees. This is a common Pine Warbler.
And this small Blue-gray Gnatcatcher may be fairly common - but they are almost impossible to photograph as they never sit for more than a fraction of a second. Getting this shot was pure luck.
Yesterday we took Johnny to Orlando to celebrate New Years Eve with younger friends that are able to stay awake past 9 o'clock. We went on to Ocala to look at one of the active retirement communities - the one with its own RC flying field. We were impressed - but the area is very different than Ft. Myers - so we will have a lot of thinking to do before we make any decisions.
The New Year came in quietly as we slept, exhausted from the long drive. Bill celebrated the first day of 2010 and the day before his 66th birthday by (here's a shocker) going flying with his friends. It's a beautiful morning but rain is forcast for later in the day as another cold front blows in.