Friday, December 18, 2015

Great Bird Action At Captiva's Turner Beach

A must visit wildlife venue in Southwest Florida is Blind Pass where Sanibel Island and Captiva Island meet.


The Ruddy Turnstone above (image 1) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

With Turner Beach on the Captiva side, and Blind Pass Beach on the Sanibel side, you are offered a significant amount of real estate to make observations of the birds in their environment. Fishing, shelling, and swimming are popular activities here as well.


The Magnificent Frigatebird above (image 2) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird with Royal Tern above (image 3) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 4) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

It is unfortunate that a $6.00 bridge toll (for cars) is required to get here from the mainland with $4.00 an hour parking fees at public parks on the islands for many visitors at the time of this writing. An advantage of the fees is that the venues visited on the islands are near pristine and are typically uncrowded.


The Ruddy Turnstone above (image 5) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Sanderling with Dunlin above (image 6) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Black-bellied Plover above (image 7) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

In my research for this article, I learned that some surplus monies from the Sanibel Causeway Bridge toll revenues are being set aside for a new bridge over Big Carlos Pass. This seems like an extremely low transportation priority to me.


The Willet above (image 8) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird above (image 9) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird with Royal Tern above (image 10) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

Of possible additional interest is my recommendation that you purchase a Lee County Parking Sticker ($60 annually at the time of this writing) if you are going to be visiting parks in Lee County for an extended period. This Lee County Parking privilege is not valid at all Sanibel/ Captiva venues, however.


The Magnificent Frigatebird with Royal Tern and Brown Pelican above (image 11) were photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The scene above (image 12) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Laughing Gull above (image 13) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

Be aware that pets are not allowed on Captiva Island's public beaches although they are allowed on Sanibel beaches when leashed. Also as a reminder, pets are also prohibited at Bunche Beach Preserve close by on the mainland. Some local venues have notoriously bad biting insects (no-see-ums, mosquitoes, and deer flies) under certain conditions, so be prepared for that.


The Laughing Gull above (image 14) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 15) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 16) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

Two great wildlife venues that are affiliated with the annual parking fee program are Turner Beach and Bowman's Beach. I am not a sheller, but based on observations made in the past I would recommend Bowman's Beach for that activity. Bowman's Beach is also better for shorebird nesting activity in the late Spring to Summer months.


The Ring-billed Gull above (image 17) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The scene above (image 18) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Willet above (image 19) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

Well, the purpose of my visit to Turner Beach on 17 December was of course to observe the birds and their behavior. My immediate impression was disappointment as there wasn't a Razorbill as seen on a previous visit to this stunning place. A Razorbill was reported heading south near Cape Canaveral about a few weeks ago as I recall which gave me optimism for another encounter with this species which is especially challenging to keep up with while walking along the beach.


The immature Magnificent Frigatebird above (image 20) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird above (image 21) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird with Brown Pelican above (image 22) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

It wasn't long after my arrival at Turner Beach that I realized a good day was at hand. There were relatively few shorebirds on the shoreline than I am accustomed to seeing at the beaches such as Bunche Beach Preserve or Little Estero Lagoon, but there was a lot of activity over the water.


The Royal Tern above (image 23) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Dunlin above (image 24) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Bald Eagle above (image 25) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

Immediately observed at Turner Beach were two Magnificent Frigatebirds, an adult male and an immature bird that appeared very attentive of the space below them. Their purpose I would soon thereafter discover was to steal the fish from Royal Terns working the water's bounty for their own survival.


The Dunlin above (image 26) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 27) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 28) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

It was especially rewarding to have an extremely close view of a frigatebird chasing a gull, in my face as one might say. There is no man made entertainment spectacle that can compare to wildlife observations like this.


The scene above (image 29) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Willet above (image 30) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Red-breasted Merganser with prey above (image 31) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

As is the norm in my routine, I settled down at a stationary position adjacent to the jetty for the images presented in this article. The wind was from the south while I think the ideal direction of it would be from the north for sunrise photography at Turner Beach.


The Red-breasted Merganser with prey above (image 32) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 33) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 34) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

The engagement between Bald Eagle and Osprey is always a show stopper. I wish you could have seen all that I observed at Turner Beach this day. It was one of my most memorable visits to the Florida Gulf Coast beaches I have had with the large flock of scoter a bonus.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 35) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 36) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The juvenile Semipalmated Plover above (image 37) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

The observation of the Red-breasted Merganser as seen above was particularly fun to photograph. I had initially seen five of the species fly in from the south after they had passed me. They took flight further to the north ten minutes later. The birds presented here may be of another group as I did not see them fly in. So there may have been a total of 13 of the species seen as eight of the mergansers drifted toward me from the near exact same location nearly an hour later.


The Royal Tern above (image 38) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Royal Tern above (image 39) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Black Scoter above (image 40) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

There can be no argument for a fellow participant of observations offering mutual benefit. I fondly remember British traveler Chris Baker who readily expounded on his experiences. Most memorable was his technique for the moment. He would say something like "Bird at nine o'clock." A technique very much missed when making observations alone. Chris, I assure you I did not intentionally inform you the opposite direction.


The Black Scoter above (image 41) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Bald Eagle above (image 42) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Bald Eagle harassed by Osprey above (image 43) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

There was a particularly interesting silence on this day of observations. That is without regard to the trilling call of several Royal Terns. On this subject, one of the great "stories" of the year was written by Jeffrey A. Gordon in the American Birding Association's June edition of their magazine, Does birding need "rules" at all? Be sure to join the American Birding Association when you are able.


The Bald Eagle harassed by Osprey above (image 44) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Bald Eagle harassed by Osprey above (image 45) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The Bald Eagle harassed by Osprey above (image 46) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

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The fisherman above (image 47) was photographed at Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.


The scene above (image 48) was photographed near Turner Beach (Blind Pass) in December 2015.

6 comments:

  1. It is always a treat to come over here. The eagle shots are quite unique. Well done.

    I'm on travel right now and have not been out with my gear for a while.

    Happy holidays!

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    1. Thank you, Steve. Safe travels to you, and happy holidays!

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  2. Great photo's Bob. Merry Christmas

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  3. Wonderful photos as always. Have you considered donating some to http://birdseye.photo ?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dan. At some point I may participate with birdseye.photo.

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