Bill and I had an unexpected trip to Fort Myers after the couple renting our condo left early. Last year at this time we experienced a bird fall-out on Sanibel Island (http://parkersbarkers.blogspot.com/2012/04/sanibel-lighthouse-migratory-bird.html) so even before we set our suitcase down, we hurried over the causeway to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Sanibel's Lighthouse Beach hoping to see some of the neo-tropical migrants flying north from South and Central America. There were none. Looking at the empty Gumbo Limbo Tree, I realized what an extraordinary experience we had last year. Even Metro Parkway was devoid of birds!
This is the only picture I took at Ding Darling - a Catbird. Yes, there was a tiny smattering of the usual shore birds - one White Pelican, the usual Osprey, a couple of Cormorants and several Willets - but that was it! Lighthouse Beach was even more disappointing. We had planned to spend the next day on the island but went to Harns Marsh instead.
We were greeted at Harns Marsh by a Sandhill Crane family. One adult flew away and the others quickly hid in the heavy foliage.
The marsh was beautiful with the early morning light playing on the water. We usually see large flocks of herons and egrets, coots and moorhens, but there were only a few this time. It didn't matter - this Great Egret, in breeding plumage is always fun to see.
...as was this Tri-colored Heron. Look at that bright blue beak!
He was showing off his feathered headdress. I hadn't noticed this before my sister showed pictures on her blog (http://quilterb-bethsblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/i-just-cant-stop-making-purses-worse.html).
His colors were wonderful!
There were several Limpkin making lots of noise.
...and the usual Red-winged Blackbirds.
A couple of Black-necked Stilts flew over the marsh.
...and the Sandhill Crane returned and posed for pictures. Our trip to Fort Myers was short. We met with our rental agent, restocked and replaced a couple of lanai chairs, visited with friends and closed the condo for the summer before heading back to Ocala.
Next week Bill and I will head back to Colorado for the summer. We plan to travel via Route 10 through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, doing some birding along the way. I hate to see the season end as I really love it here at On Top of the World - but we'll be back!