The town of Cedar Key is a quaint fishing village on the Gulf Coast, about 50 miles southwest of Gainesville. The Cedar Keys are a group of barrier islands that are Federally protected bird and wildlife sanctuaries.
This picture was taken from the dock where we were waiting to depart on a birding trip through the marshes with expert birder Captain Doug. The birds flying over the hotels are Black Skimmers.
A large flock of Black Skimmers.
I caught this pair as they were flying to sit on the hotel roof with the rest of the gang. Note that their lower bill is longer than their upper. They feed by flying low and skimming the water with their lower bill.
The ever-present Ring-billed Gulls.
Once we were out in the boat, I saw more shore birds than I ever saw in South Florida. There were hundreds of huge White Pelicans.
The distinctive black markings on their wings show only when they fly. I was amazed how close we were able to get to them.
Oystercatchers were everywhere. It was high tide and every inch of every available sand bar was covered with shore birds.
Oystercatchers and Willets. The Willets also have a very distinctive black and white wing pattern when they fly.
Willets, Willets and more Willets - but note the bigger bird with the long downward curved bill. It is a Wimbrel.
Another Wimbrel. The two smaller birds facing in the same direction as the Wimbrel are, I believe, a Short-billed Dowitcher (center) and a Dunlin.
A little of everything - can you name them all? I can't!
A couple of the sand bars were wall-to-wall Ruddy Turnstones.
Captain Doug promised us Plovers and we found these way out on a secluded beach. The one on the right is a Semipalmated Plover. I'm not sure if the other two are also Semipalmated or another plover.
Close-up of the Semipalmated Plover showing the necklace that goes all the way around.
I didn't expect to see a Loon on this trip!
The larger bird with the long black and pink bill is a Marbled Godwit.
We saw a couple of Bald Eagles during our 3 hour trip.
Back on land, I saw this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
We met another couple on our trip, Linda and Graham, and joined them for dinner at Tony's. Tony has won the gold ribbon for his clam chowder two years in a row - and after eating it I sure understood why! It was the BEST clam chowder I've ever had. Bill had fresh raw oysters and he said they were delicious. We have a new favorite place to eat!
We had a great day at Cedar Key - and I can't wait to go back.