Thursday, February 23, 2017

Florida Trip Part 2

Pelicans and Dolphins

The weather is warming up lately and it makes me think about our Florida trip.  On our last full day in Treasure Island, FL, I had my best beach walk ever.  The Brown Pelicans were very busy fishing along with the Ospreys and terns that I wrote about in one of my last posts.  This bird has a special spot in my heart.  The Brown Pelican was another one of the poster child for the effects of DDT and just like the Bald Eagle, they have recovered amazingly well.  

Then I noticed something, The pelicans seemed to be attracted to a certain area where I caught one glimpse of a dorsal fin and then another, and then another.  The Bottlenose Dolphins were fishing too.

I think there was about a half dozen dolphins hunting right off the beach.

The pelicans were using the dolphins to locate fish and round them up.  Then they would....

SPLASH DOWN!!!  It was really fun watching these two kinds of animals fish and indirectly work together to catch their breakfast.  Treasure Island beaches are one of the best spots to view Bottlenose Dolphins in Florida.  Who needs to take a boat tour when you get up early and get a little lucky walking the beaches?

Happy Birding! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Feathers on Friday for 2/10

Snowy Egret 

Happy Friday!  It is pretty ironic that I found a bird named Snowy Egret in Florida while trying to get out of the snow and cold of New York.  But this smaller egret does migrate south and is a common sight around the beaches of Florida all year-round.  

Showing of it's yellow "socked" black feet

I had a lot of fun watching this guy forage in the surf.  It kept running away from the waves when they came in.  

Then in between waves, It looked for something to eat.

Have a great weekend and I hope all those in the Northeast have gotten dug out after the big storm.   Happy Birding!  

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Eagle Report for 2/8

The Eagle Pairs are Busy

Early February is an exciting time for Bald Eagle nest watchers like myself in the Northeast.   All the pairs at the nests that I watch are now busy getting ready for the season.   They are fixing their nests, reestablishing their bonds with their mate,  and removing younger eagles from their territories.  It seems that Eagles have a romantic side too.   Usually, most of the eagle pairs have eggs in the nest for Valentine's Day.  Who needs flowers when you can give little ones instead?

Eagles do have some time for some fun too!  The female in the above picture in particular was ready to take a ride.  At one point, The pair flew down on a thin ice sheet on the mostly unfrozen creek.  They loudly chattered at each other until the male flew off to perch in a nearby tree.  The female stayed on the ice sheet and like one of those "magic carpets" at airports rode the sheet up the creek.  She started out right under the nest and by the time she was done was at least a 100 yards upstream.  I guess this is public transportation for eagles.  Stay tuned for more updates throughout the nesting season.  

A male perched by one of the other nests.

Here are someone of the highlight from last season:

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Florida Trip

Hovering Style of Hunting

We took our annual trip to Treasure Island, FL after Christmas to enjoy some beach time and warmer weather.  Our two boys battled illnesses for the trip but we still enjoyed the time there.  I got some time in the mornings to do some beach birding.   

Two types of birds that were very active fishing in the morning were the Ospreys,  and the Terns(Royal Tern and Common Tern).  They use a very similar hunting style.  Both hover over the water looking down to locate a fish.  

When they spot a fish, the terns lead with their long beak and dive into the water.   The Ospreys lead with their sharp talons and plunge into the water too.

The Bald Eagle uses a different approach.  Here is a Eagle perched by the Hudson River looking for a fish on the surface.  The much larger eagle uses the perch then fly when a fish is locate approach.  They usually just get their talons wet while the terns and Ospreys submerge most of their entire body into the water.  They use very different approaches but both are very effective in catching fish.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Feathers on Friday for 2/3

White-throated Sparrow

Happy first Friday in February!  This beautiful White-throated Sparrow will be even more impressive in the spring but right now it has a duller plumage.  I came across about a dozen of these guys eating some berries in a bushy area along a trail.  It is perched on a Rose(I think) bush as can be seen from the thorns.  Have a great weekend and Happy Birding!

More Feathers on Friday Post:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Hawk Report for 1/31

Trying to Stay Warm

Until recently, it hasn't felt much like winter here in the Capital Region of New York.  We finally got our first major storm of the season last week.  All was quiet after the storm with the Red-shouldered Hawk pair in our backyard for about a week.  Then the activity picked up over the last few days.  Especially, the female has been spending a lot of time in our backyard.  The above picture is of her perched high up in a tree in the sun.  She is puffed up to help keep warm and it makes her look much larger.

Here is her from Monday morning.  She is doing some preening on the feathers on her back.  It's still awhile before they will start the nesting season but typically they start showing up more and more in February and March.  Maybe to reassert their territory or it might just be that they like to perch in the sun in the tall trees to stay warm.  Whatever it is, it is great to see these beautiful hawks more and more over the next few months.