Sunday, December 26, 2010

Little Estero Lagoon

These are the last of the pictures from my Fort Myers adventures with sister Beth. Our last birding trip was to Little Estero Lagoon on Fort Myers Beach. As we were walking along the path by the first body of water, a passerby told us there was a birder on the beach with a scope. He had shown her a rare "clam-catcher." She said the black ones are very rare. I said I had never heard of this bird and asked if she meant "oystercatcher" instead of "clamcatcher."

We never found the birder, but we did see this American Oystercatcher standing at the edge of the waves. He was standing and even hoping around on one leg - to the point that we thought his other leg was injured.

But all was well - he finally finally engaged his other leg and walked a short distance giving us his best profile. Oystercatchers can live for up to 20 years and don't mate until they are 3 or 4. All-black Oystercatchers are found along the Pacific Coast.

Both Beth and I love the Roseate Spoonbills!

These are youngsters and have not reached breeding age. Compare these birds with the one we saw at Harns Marsh with the dark pink wing strip and yellow head.

I still can't figure out how the Wood Storks got such an ugly head to go with that beautiful body.

I thought this was an interesting shot with the birds lined up-down-up-down-up-down.

We saw several dolphins playing in the waves. This one went over to see the Brown Pelicans in the tree. When he got right under them he jumped and splashed. It looked like he was trying to scare them away.

Back at the lagoon, the Pelicans were busy fishing.

This one was successful and came up with a big fish - which he promptly ate.

I think the Killdeer must be the most common plover. I see them at the beach, in our backyard here in Ocala and even at our summer home in Colorado Springs!

It's the day after Christmas and the weather has gone downhill. The sun is hiding behind dark clouds and the wind is mean - too strong for Bill to fly. The freeze warnings are out for the next two days - so guess I'll have to head back to the sewing room and work on another quilt!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas! It's a beautiful sunny morning here in the OTOW compound so Bill (here's a shocker) is already up and out at the RC flying field crashing his planes so he'll have a project repairing them later in the day. I'm not sure how he will survive without heading to the hobby shop - but hopefully his other hobby (feeding me) will keep him busy.

Son John is still asleep after losing a wild game of combat dominoes last night. We played until the wee hours of the morning - probably past 9:00 PM!!

My bird feeders in the backyard are a hive of activity with Goldfinches, Bluebirds, Titmice, Cardinals, House Finches, Doves and Sparrows. The Killdeer are playing out back and there are Blue Jays in the tree out front. I love my life!

So before I get started making chocolate chip cookies for Johnny, I think I'll finish posting some of the backlog of pictures from our trip to Fort Myers.

We've made some great new friends here at OTOW and two of them, Peg and Bob, came down to spend the weekend with us in Ft. Myers. Peg is a fabulous quilter, so I knew she and Beth would hit it off (the three of us hit all of the quilt shops in the area - what a blast!) and Bob is a RC flyer so we took them over to the Cape Coral RC field. Naturally I had my camera - but I wasn't looking at the planes.

I watched these two friends sitting on the fence at the end of the field - chatting it up and ignoring the activity on the field.

The talkative bird is a Meadowlark and his friend is a Loggerhead Shrike.

I guess the shrike got tired of listening and decided to check the wind direction.

Deserted, the lark found comfort in food and plucked a juicy worm from the grass and ate it. Don't you think he looks guilty?

This Bald Eagle felt no guilt as he finished his meal high in a pine tree. He is a teenager on the verge of adulthood with some of the brown on his face still visible.

Over at the ball field where we see the Burrowing Owls, I watched these two Osprey torment a noisy nest of Monk Parakeets high atop one of the stadium lights. It looked like the Osprey were hoping one of the parakeets would make a tasty meal, but despite their efforts, the parakeets were safe.

I hope all my readers will stay safe this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Harns Marsh

We always enjoy visiting Harns Marsh in Lehigh Acres. While Warren and Bill power-walked the 5 miles around, Beth and I took our time (and lots of pictures!) meandering around the upper ponds - meeting the boys about a mile from where we parked. There was lots to see and Beth added several birds to her life list.

This Roseate Spoonbill was just magnificent! The yellow head and dark pink wing indicates it is a mature (breeding) adult. They, like the Wood Storks in my last post, have beautiful bodies and rather ugly bald heads.

And talking about ugly heads - look at these Black Vultures.

There were THOUSANDS of Tree Swallows flying around. I've never seen so many - and they are almost impossible for me to photograph as they are never still. I was thrilled when some landed so at least I had a fighting chance to get a picture...

...or two

...or a hundred.

We saw this Osprey as we were leaving. Check out his fish!

This is a Greater Yellowlegs. When Beth and I saw it, we didn't know whether it was a Greater or Lesser Yellowlegs, but she consulted her Stokes Field Guide to Birds and properly identified it for her blog - giving credit to her reference. After posting her entry, she was thrilled to get a comment from birding authorities, Don and Lillian Stokes, the authors of the field guide!

Just a couple of neighbors hanging around discussing politics.

I think I see this photogenic Tricolored Heron every time I visit Harns Marsh.

This was one of Beth's sightings - an American Bittern. I saw one on my last trip, but this one was closer.

What a beautiful place!

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

On a recent trip to Sanabel's wildlife jewel, Beth, Bill and I had the rare opportunity to photograph some endangered Wood Storks up close and personal. They were at the shoreline just feet away from the road.

Son John, who is here for the holidays, says this looks like a drag queen of the animal kingdom.

Look at the way their legs bend to sit. These majestic birds are beautiful in flight, but up close they sure do have ugly heads!

Three Wood Storks posing for the people who stopped to take pictures.

We also saw other large shore birds: a Snowy Egret,

a Great Egret,

and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron standing just off the road. He never moved while we took lots of pictures.

The Double-crested Cormorants are very common and I usually don't bother taking too many pictures, but I thought this one was especially cute.

Spiders, snakes, lizards, frogs, butterflies, armadillos and, of course, birds!

I'm so far behind in my blogging that I hardly know where to start. We were without Internet while in Fort Myers and I will never let that happen again! I can't believe how much I depend on something that didn't exist for most of my life!

The following pictures are from trips to Corkscrew Swamp and Babcock Webb.

I have no idea what kind of spider this is - but he's big!

Naturalists stage themselves along the boardwalk at Corkscrew so they can point out something special hiding in the trees or nestled in the weeds - especially if it is dangerous like this Water Moccasin.

You really have to look closely to see the lizard in this picture. Look how long his tail is!

The swamp lily is a native plant and we often see them growing in the swamps.

This is a tiny tree frog - only about one inch across - that was sitting quietly on a leaf. I turned the picture so he could be seen better.

A Great Egret trying to stay warm in the unusually chilly southwest Florida weather.

There were lots of pretty butterflies in the butterfly garden at Corkscrew.

These two were fun to watch as they played in the sun.

Another lizard...

This Great Blue Heron was far away but I liked the way he was framed by the trees.

Finally a hawk other than a red-shouldered! This is a Northern Harrier. We spotted it at Babcock Webb and it was a life bird for sister Beth. I took this picture through the window of Warren's van.

All the way at the far end of the Babcock Webb drive (open only during hunting season) we saw this beautiful Bald Eagle in the distance.

This was a nice surprise! We actually saw three Nine Banded Armadillos along the side of the drive.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Trip Pics!

I have no clue what this biker is towing - but I couldn't resist taking a picture as he rode by us in Cape Coral. I assume these are his art works and he was returning home after displaying them for sale at a local venue. Are they fish? birds? I may never know!

The weather in Ft. Myers was cool so the Manatees were gathered at Manatee Park in the warm waters by the power plant. Sister Beth had been to Manatee Park before but never when the Manatees were there, so Bill drove us over.

Beth had her new camera and took lots of pictures, but you will have to check her blog to see them.

Afterwards, we drove over to Cape Coral to try and see the Burrowing Owls. We didn't see any owls out in the chilly air mid-day, but I did see this Mocking Bird.

And we saw the Monk Parakeets at their usual spot by the ball fields.

On an early morning visit to Lover's Key to walk and pick up sea shells, the Osprey were out in force. They are building their nests getting ready to settle down and raise a family. Look closely and you will see this guy has a fish in his left talon.

Beth and Warren have two cats, George and Chaney and they shared the beach house becoming Florida cats very quickly. This is Chaney. He usually hides when anyone he doesn't know is around, but for some reason he decided I was okay and even let me pet him - but only for a few minutes.