Thursday, February 25, 2010


The other day while we were driving past our local shopping center I caught a glimpse of a long tailed bird out of the corner of my eye. Bill was stopped at a red light and we both tried to figure out what it was. He thought maybe it was a kid's kite but I said no one would fly a kite over a grocery store! The Swallow-tailed Kites are due back any day from their winter in South America and other areas south - had they finally arrived? Or were we seeing something else - another exotic rarity? Bill was taking pictures out of the driver's window when the light changed. He drove across traffic and into the parking area to get a better look - but it had disappeared.

Looking at his pictures, we realized it was just the resident grocery store Osprey carrying a long streamer for his nest. They build their large nest on top of a light post in the parking lot - same place every year - and raise their chicks.

The flying field has been closed all week for runway repairs so several mornings this week we have been on the road at o'dark-thirty, arriving at some of our favorite birding sites at dawn. Today's pictures were taken at Six-Mile Cypress Slough, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Harns Marsh.

The Gray Catbird is more often heard than seen, hiding in thick shrubs if anything moves nearby. They are smart birds and can mimic other birds' calls, but the thing I like most about them is they do not let parasitic cowbirds leave eggs in their nests for the catbirds to raise. I wish the endangered Summer Tanagers were as smart! My Florida bird book says the Chippewa Indians named the Gray Catbird "Bird That Cries With Grief" because of its raspy call.

I've been trying to get a picture of this bird all winter! This is a Carolina Wren and their loud, melodic songs taunt me each time we go to Corkscrew. They sing year-round and can have as many as 3 dozen different song types. The image isn't the best and really doesn't show his warm brown back and bright yellow chest. It was still dusk and the light was not good - so I'll keep trying.

One of my favorite warblers - and the easiest to identify - a Black and White Warbler. It's not difficult to see how they got their name.

I know I promised no more pictures of the Great Egrets, but this one, taken at Six Mile Cypress, was so pretty I couldn't resist.

Another stumper. I think it's a Northern Parula but would happily be corrected by someone who knows more than I.

One of our favorites! There were several Painted Buntings on this trip to Corkscrew. This, of course, is the very colorful male.

If you look closely, you can see he has a band on his leg. Isn't he beautiful?

A Savannah Sparrow. This picture, as well as the next ones, were taken at Harns Marsh.

We haven't seen many Roseate Spoonbills this year - just a couple here and there - so I was delighted to be able to photograph these beauties in such a gorgeous setting.

You can click on any of these images for a larger view.

It was still a little foggy over the marsh - but taking that into consideration, I am pleased with the pictures.

My sister has been putting me to shame with her beautiful pictures of the great variety of ducks and geese in upstate New York. These Blue-winged are not as magnificent as her Oldsquaws and Mergansers - but it's what we have!

Our unusual cold weather has adversely affected the birds, fish and animals, killing many - much to the glee and delight of our huge buzzard population. The Ding Darling resident American Crocodile was recently found dead, her body washed up on the bank of the lagoon. I never did get to see her. She was old and apparently could not handle the freeze. Sadder still, our endangered Wood Storks will not nest this year, hurting their already diminished population. On a positive note, the cold also killed some of the invasive species like the Monitor Lizards on Sanibel and huge Pythons that have been flourishing in the Everglades. Guess there is a reason for everything.

Our condo in Fort Myers is finally on the market, but I am not optimistic it will sell quickly. I've packed up most of the items we will take to Ocala on Monday when we settle on our new house. Since people can arrive to look at the condo on a minute's notice - I have to keep it spotless and have all of our personal items stowed in drawers and cabinets. It's only been a couple of days - but it's already getting old - wipe the counters, close the lid, mop the floor, close the lid, clean the kitchen, hide the dirty clothes, close the lid, etc. etc. It's like living in a model home. Hopefully, it's worth it.

Tomorrow we are meeting Pamela, Orlando, Gabriel and Sebastian at Epcot and I can't wait to see my kids and grandkidlets. Later this year, we were planning to take our older grandson to Sea World to see Shamu - but I guess that's out now.

Gotta go - the Realtor called - they are showing the condo - gotta close the lids...

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