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.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quiet Morning At Church Road

A sunrise visit to Church Road in Hendry County was made on 2 October to find usual suspects.


The Crested Caracara above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.

The hope of finding early in the season Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers was not fulfilled. This magnified my attention on the high numbers of Blue Jays that were present.


The Glossy Ibis above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Crested Caracara above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Blue Jay above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Black Vulture above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Black Vulture above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Northern Cardinal above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The dragonfly above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.

The habitat is very favorable for Crested Caracara which were in good numbers and usually seen in pairs while perched. I did not observe any caracara on the ground which I considered unusual. A Belted Kingfisher was a great tease not allowing an acceptable photograph.


The Blue Jay above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Rock Dove above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The 1st winter Common Yellowthroat above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The White Peacock butterfly above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Florida Softshell Turtle above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.


The Wild Turkey above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.

Highlights of the trip included a flock of 35 Glossy Ibis and 13 Wild Turkey.


The Zebra Longwing butterfly above was photographed at Church Road in October 2014.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Red-necked Phalarope At Siesta Key: Part III

All the images in the conclusion of this article were captured within sight of a Red-necked Phalarope that chose to take respite from its migratory journey in a remarkably beautiful place called Siesta Key Beach.


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

The beach here is so stunning that it is occasionally recognized with an award for best beach. The birds observed were certainly in a more favorable setting for their rest and relaxation at a tidal pool well north of the primary sun bathing areas.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Lesser Yellowlegs above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


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


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


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


The Roseate Spoonbill above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Roseate Spoonbill above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Roseate Spoonbill above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Red Knot above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


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


The Sandwich Tern with juvenile above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Sandwich Tern with juvenile above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Snowy Egret above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


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


The Red Knot above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Red Knot above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The Red Knot above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


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


The juvenile Snowy Egret with Royal Tern and Red Knot above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The juvenile Snowy Egret above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.


The juvenile Snowy Egret above was photographed at Siesta Key Beach in September 2014.

Though I don't include an image of the phalarope in this final chapter, you are encouraged to investigate Part II of the article which has good images of what a non-breeding specimen will look like in the field. Ideally at Siesta Key Beach in the future.


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


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

It is my hope to return to this remarkable place along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail numerous times.


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

Please also see Red-necked Phalarope At Siesta Key: Part I
Please also see Red-necked Phalarope At Siesta Key: Part II