Friday, October 24, 2014

Siesta Key Flats Favored Over Tidal Pool

A return trip to Siesta Key Beach was made on 10 October to observe wildlife conditions.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

It was very interesting to see that the tidal pool at the north end of the beach that had contained the Red-necked Phalarope and hundreds of shore and wading birds on my preceding visit was completely devoid of birds.


The Sanderling above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Great Egret above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Short-billed Dowitcher above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Royal Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Laughing Gull above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Black Skimmer above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Great Egret above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

The tide was very favorable before my predawn arrival allowing hundreds of shore and wading birds to congregate on flats immediately adjacent to the tidal pool.


The fishermen above were photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Least Sandpiper above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Semipalmated Sandpiper above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Semipalmated Sandpiper above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Willet above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

However, the tide was rising so observations were limited to less than 90 minutes. The lack of a breeze led to haphazard and unpredictable flight of the birds.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Snowy Plover with a deformity above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Black-bellied Plover above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Laughing Gull above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican with Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Black Skimmer above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

There was a very good representation of species that should be expected in the shore habitat. A flyby of four ducks at what seemed was their maximum speed was impressive. They were most likely Mottled Duck.


The Semipalmated Plover above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Ruddy Turnstone above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Ruddy Turnstone with Willet above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The immature Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Willet with prey above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sanderling above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

While there were no specialty species observed at Siesta Key Beach this day, it was a lot of fun to photograph the action. It was regretful to see a Snowy Plover with its right foot missing.


The Black-bellied Plover above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The Brown Pelican above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The scene above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.


The scene above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

Siesta Key Beach, not too distant from Fort Myers, will hopefully be a periodic destination for thorough enjoyment of Florida's Gulf Coast wildlife.


The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in October 2014.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Birds And Bees At Fort Myers Beach

On 8 October 2014 I received an email from Hemant Kishan advising me of Vince McGrath's notification of the discovery of a Red-necked Phalarope south of Little Estero Lagoon Critical Wildlife Area by Lee County Bird Patrol volunteer Marie Di Rosa.


The scene above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

As I had not heard of a Red-necked Phalarope in Lee County since Vince's report of the species at Bunche Beach in 2010 (missing the bird at that time), it was necessary to travel to Siesta Key Beach in mid September 2014 for what I believe to be Sarasota County's first documented RNPH with the species my first sighting as well.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

So, I thought it quite remarkable this week that there would be a second sighting of a Red-necked Phalarope in such a short period of time. I even pondered the possibility that this could be the same bird migrating south. Between the two Red-necked Phalarope I devoted about five hours observing them.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

It seemed clear to me that they were definitely not the same bird. The bird in Sarasota was very active, a distinctive characteristic of the species, while it took flight for short distances on many occasions. The Fort Myers Beach (Carlos Pointe) bird was not observed to fly at all.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

Admittedly the tidal pool at Siesta Key Beach is significantly larger than the pool at Carlos Pointe which may have had an impact on the phalarope behavior in each pool. The Sarasota bird appeared to favor an injured leg. The Fort Myers Beach phalarope seemed in perfect health while feeding, and on the move incessantly.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

The sunrise was very favorable for photography of the Fort Myers Beach phalarope initially, but high level clouds were disruptive for fast shutter speeds necessary to document the extremely active behavior of the bird effectively. This is in part what makes this hobby of wildlife photography so appealing to me. You must occasionally make decisions (hopefully the right ones) when using a DSLR camera.


The Red-necked Phalarope pursuing prey above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

While observing the Red-necked Phalarope in the Carlos Pointe tidal pool it was remarkable to see the phalarope take down a bee as the bird was hunting for aquatic prey. My reaction was nowhere near the speed required to get one of those "shots" of a lifetime with the potential certainly there. The phalarope had an apparent dislike for the bee, and dropped it into the water.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

While the bee did not seem the better for its experience I was able to catch up with bud Tom Obrock, and acquaintances Janet and Aaron Kirk (Janet's personality was as effervescent as ever), and prolific reporter of wildlife in the area, France Paulsen. At one point Tom quipped that the phalarope might be a meal for a Peregrine Falcon which Vince had recently reported as having returned to the area.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope with prey above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

Amazingly, after a very short while, a Peregrine Falcon made a flyby at high altitude (certainly benefiting the phalarope) from south to north. It was my hope to see one of Hemant's Great Black-backed Gulls which he has reported at this venue, but the species was absent the morning of my visit.


The Red-necked Phalarope with prey above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The Red-necked Phalarope above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

I noted that the water got deep very quickly when walking into Big Carlos Pass which I was compelled to do. Reminded that the current here is considered very dangerous, as at New Pass further south, I chose to keep an extremely firm footing (and be very nervous) while barely waste deep.


The juvenile Snowy Egret above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.


The fisherman above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.

It is my hope for continued wildlife documentation as long as I am able, while also meeting the interesting people that are intrigued by nature at its best in southwest Florida.


The Peregrine Falcon above was photographed at Fort Myers Beach in October 2014.