Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Florida Curlew Sightings: A Least Concern

A favored trek to the beach for wildlife observation is made when I am able.

The Snowy Plover above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Such was the case this week when I made a Saturday trip to Bunche Beach Preserve.

The tourist season is not yet in full gear, while the parking spaces at the Preserve have become scarce at times.

The Willet above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Most visitors to Bunche Beach seem content to settle down to sun bathe and enjoy the scenery near the parking area while others explore the beach often causing the birds to take flight.

The birds often disappear toward Bowditch Point, Sanibel Lighthouse, the causeway, or merely elsewhere along the beach.

The Snowy Plover above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

A mid afternoon arrival to the beach this week was a welcome one for some rest and relaxation while observing the wildlife.

It was still a bit on the comparatively chilly side with the ambient temperature in the mid 70's with the water temperature still cooler.

The Tricolored Heron above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

I had cut the upper torso and arms off a recently acquired wetsuit which I found much too hot when out of the water.

I found the suit considerably restrictive as well and after its use this week found that I cut it down significantly more than I should have.

The Ruddy Turnstone above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Remember there are no second chances if you attempt such a thing.

At my approach to the west channel the birds were indeed in fewer numbers than I would expect with the flats favorably exposed with the pedestrian traffic likely the culprit.

The Willet above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

It was my great fortune to make my first observation of a pair of Snowy Plover that had previously eluded me this season.

Wildlife photographer Joshua Clark notified me that he had observed the Snowy Plover at Bunche during his very brief stay in the area around the Christmas holiday.

The Laughing Gull above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Josh's home base is Ohio and gave me the impression that he will be back.

A Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron and ultimately a pair of Snowy Egrets were given a lot of my attention as they foraged near the shell encrusted rocks.

The Little Blue Heron above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Willets were seen here in great abundance as a solitary Marbled Godwit observed without magnification flew in from the east about an hour before sunset.

The Bald Eagle and Long-billed Curlew seen on my visit to the Preserve last week remained out of sight.

The White Ibis above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The image directly above is a good representation of behavior where an ibis captured a prey item and was almost immediately harassed by several Willet.

The Willet gave way to an opportunist Laughing Gull (likely immature) that has very rarely not been seen to successfully steal the food captured by other species that are challenged in eating it immediately.

The White Ibis above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

In this instance the ibis which I speculate as very learned held its own and was able to consume the majority of its find through great effort.

Another highlight this day was the observation of a banded Piping Plover with a color combination including a flag that I didn't recall seeing before.

The Piping Plover above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The banded Piping Plover image taken this week is seen directly above with a similar one taken 1 December 2011 which may be seen here.

These two images were forwarded to University of Minnesota's Great Lakes Waterbird Research Program via their excellent website with hopes of getting a reply about the banded plovers.

The Black Skimmer above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

I'm very excited to report that responses were received in an extremely timely manner offering insight about the birds seen.

I first heard back from Alice Van Zoeren affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

The Dunlin above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Alice made the comment in reference to the plover observed 1 DEC 11, "Left leg: orange flag above joint, two black bands below joint, right leg: USGS metal band above joint, light green band below joint. It was hatched in 2009 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan."

Alice also noted that she personally banded the bird at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the summer of 2011.

The Little Blue Heron above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

She was kind enough to forward me her images of the identical bird with one of them including the bird's mate as the birds nested on their first egg.

Alice had forwarded my request of information about the banded plovers to Dr. Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, Research Scientist of Shorebirds, Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Centre, Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, as she was unsure of details about the banded Piping Plover seen this week.

The Long-billed Curlew above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Cheri forwarded my request to Mary Bomberger Brown with the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Mary replied to me that the banded Piping Plover, with its image included here, is a migrant from the Lower Platte River in Nebraska.

The Long-billed Curlew above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

She noted that it was banded as a chick on 16 June 2011 at a lake shore housing development near North Bend, Dodge County, Nebraska.

My sincere thanks to Alice, Cheri, and Mary for taking the time to allow this information to report here.

The Marbled Godwit with Long-billed Curlew above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The image directly above shows a Marbled Godwit landing on a Long-billed Curlew.

I made a followup trip to Bunche Beach Preserve this week to observe the wildlife under different tidal conditions with Least Sandpiper to again be seen in fewer numbers than they were observed in the late Fall months.

The Long-billed Curlew with Marbled Godwit above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The water level was significantly higher during my mid afternoon visit but would turn at about this time and recede noticeably.

It was a treat to see Tom Obrock at the Preserve this day as he was scanning the birds of the common and potentially unusual.

The Long-billed Curlew with Marbled Godwit above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

After speaking with him for a mere few moments he caught sight of a Long-billed Curlew flying in from the east.

Tom advised me that he had seen Horned Grebes far in the bay upon his arrival to the Preserve.

The Black Skimmer above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Selective sharpening was used on the image of the bathing Black Skimmer seen directly above accentuating the water droplets trailing off the bird's left wing.

A pair of Snowy Plover were practically at our feet in the company of Piping Plover and other shorebirds.

The Royal Tern above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

I left Tom's company to approach the Long-billed Curlew after he noted there were only two Long-billed Curlew reported in the state of Florida this week.

The curlew, a species I have not had the opportunity to study very much, was apparently content to forage on its own with no other bird anywhere near it.

The Royal Tern with Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Out of nowhere came a Marbled Godwit to challenge the curlew unsuccessfully as the curlew drove off the godwit handily.

The tables seemed to be turned as the godwits returned in numbers with unquestionable contentious behavior noted between the two species.

The Royal Tern above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The curlew was attacked on a few occasions by the godwit for no apparent reason with plenty of space for them to distance themselves from one another.

The five godwit now on the scene were intent on invading the curlew's space and were apparently emboldened by their numbers.

The Forster's Tern above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

The curlew stood its ground however and would remain in the virtual same spot for the next couple of hours when I later passed it in near darkness leaving the Preserve.

I was compelled to wade into San Carlos Bay thinking about Tom's sighting of the Horned Grebes.

The Sandwich Tern above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

I reached about a hundred yards from shore without any sign of them which would otherwise be my first sighting of the species.

The water was getting deep although there was a possibility it would get shallower if I continued on.

The Reddish Egret above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

While dolphins have occasionally been observed in the bay, I couldn't get Tom's comment out of my mind that he has yet to see a shark's dorsal fin in the bay.

Closer to shore the day approaching sunset offered me the time to observe the routine of the feathered beasts of amazing diversity seen at Bunche Beach.

The Reddish Egret above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

One of the patrons of my employer, aware of my wildlife interest, inquired this week how my observations were going.

She noted that she and her family are native Floridians.

The Short-billed Dowitcher above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

When telling her of my sighting of the Long-billed Curlew this week, she noted that the LBCU is a very tasty bird according to her relatives.

The Long-billed Curlew is noted as a species of Least Concern according to a current page viewed about the species at Wikipedia.

The Dunlin above was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in January 2012.

Be sure to observe the wildlife at Bunche Beach in my absence or with me if you can.

2 comments:

  1. Wow~ Awesome photos! Sharing your great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. your blog is amazing! your photography is beautiful!!

    ReplyDelete