North Florida … Part One

I started my annual North Florida trip early Wednseday morning at 4:30 am with the intention of getting to Vierra Wetlands prior to the morning fly out of Sandhill Cranes.  I stopped in Ft Pierce for a cup of coffee and arrived at Vierra about 15-20 minutes before the scheduled sunrise.  I hadn’t taken into consideration the considerable amount of cloud cover and there never really was a sunrise … just a gradual brightening as the day moved on.

(Clicking on any picture will make it larger and clearer)

Sandhill Cranes ... This is probably not even half the number that were present.

Sandhill Cranes … This is probably not even half the number that were present.

I know the picture just doesn’t do the actual experience justice but you’ll have to take my word for it that when you have a couple of hundred Sandhill Cranes all talking to each other it creates quite a ruckous.  The groups would take off 6-20 at a time and I will probably try to get back up there when I know the skys will be clear to get some better flight shots.  It really is a cool experience and was captured much better by a Green Cay friend Betsy Stibal in her video here …  http://vimeo.com/83407349 .

American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans

Between Vierra proper the Click Ponds and River Lakes I had 68 different species including a couple of unusual ones, at least from my experience.  The Pelicans have been there for some time by I also saw …

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler … This is the first time I’ve seen a Pine at Vierra.  Normally all I see are Palm and Yellow-rump Warblers so was happy to capture this guys image.

Bonaparte's Gull ... I never in a million years even imagined I'd see these guys so far inland!

Bonaparte’s Gull … I never in a million years even imagined I’d see these guys so far inland!

At River Lakes I was happy to again spot the Wintering Ash-throated Flycatcher.  I had seen it a month ago with Terri and was happy to record it for this year too!!

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

I spent a good chunk of the morning at Vierra because it was rather birdie and finally pulled myself away around noon and proceeded up to Merritt Island.   Tima of day may have been at work against me and I only tallied a miserable 38 species.  Remarkably one of those was another Bonaparte’s Gull … at least this one was near the ocean!

Since Merritt Island was relatively slow I decided to head up to Daytona Beach Shores.  I had read a post on Birdbrains about a California Gull and a Glaucous Gull being seen in the nightly Gull roost.  I had heard stories about the volume of birds being seen every night but could never fathom just how many actually show up there every night this time of year.

Gull Roost Daytona Beach Shores

Gull Roost Daytona Beach Shores

These gulls are just a small fraction of what is there.  They extended up and down the beach as far as I could see in both directions … simply amazing.

Fortunately for me I got there early enough that the nightly fly-in had only begun and there was only a small fraction of the gulls from the previous picture.  I was walking the beach with Gary Davis and we were blessed with picking out the California Gull from amoungst the other thousands.  This was a wonderful new “state” bird and one I never even thought of for Florida.

California Gull ... Slightly larger than a Ring-billed Gull and a slightly darker mantle as well as a red and black dot on his lower bill.

California Gull … Slightly larger than a Ring-billed Gull with a slightly darker mantle as well as a red and black dot on his lower bill.

I ended the day by driving the rest of the way to Jacksonville with visions of Snowy Owls dancing across my brain!

Thank you so much for visiting and God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

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About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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3 Responses to North Florida … Part One

  1. Larry Frogge says:

    Daytona gull image simply awesome Tom!!!!

  2. Jet Eliot says:

    Really lovely photos, and how wonderful to have such a huge flock of sandhill cranes.

  3. E.D. says:

    abundance is what i see in your photos. nice.. different.. eve

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