Monday, December 4, 2017

Life and death in a palm tree!

While birding at Ollie's Pond in Port Charlotte (FL) we saw a juvenile Roof Rat (Rattus rattus) jump out of a shorefront Cabbage Palm and swim away!  Very unusual hardly ever sees rats in the wild, let alone one swimming!

Depicted below, by the Univ of Florida Extension Service as a horrible beast, these rodents are harmless in the wild and part of the ecosystem fauna.

AHA!  We soon found the cause of the rat's panicked escape!  A Yellow Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) climbing the palm and looking for a meal.

Higher in the palm, we spotted a large rat....perhaps a parent to the swimmer.  Looking a bit too large for the snake, it seemed to exhibit a fearful expression and held it's ground.....maybe to protect other young in the nest.

Nature's small drama is life or death for the young rats....or starvation for the snake.   Let us just observe and not judge or intrude.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Peeps return to Caspersen Beach

Out to look for shorebirds in late November.   Found some resting in the rocks at Caspersen Beach in Venice (FL).
Above is a nice Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) in non-breeding plumage.

       What do you suppose these little birds are?  Sanderlings....Western Sandpipers?  I am rarely sure with peeps!

So get the photo on the computer and get out the books!

Oiseaux de rivage!

Well....I'm going out on a limb....Sanderling (Calidris alba).

Sanderling link

You can always flip a coin if unsure!  This one says, "sandpiper!"  But I'm sticking with Sanderling easy one!  Ruddy Turnstone  (Arenaria interpres).

Feel free gentle readers to correct me on any and all "peeps."  Always learning on the beach.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wild Coco Orchid

Wild Coco Orchid (Eulophia alta).  A new, for me, species of Florida terrestrial orchid.  

Several specimens found near the roadside at the Babcock/Webb WMA in Punta Gorda, Florida.  

Some plants were in bloom, some not.  And some showed only leaves on the ground.

Although Olivia and I were excited about finding Wild Cocos, according to Hollywood there are much more exciting searches for terrestrial orchids.  Check out this link!


Here's the spot if you want to see them for yourself.

GPS Lat 26/50' 19.3" N
Long 81/57' 25.8" W

Plenty to see at "The Webb."  Take a walk and be amazed at this great multi-use WMA.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Peace River Butterfly Society Outing

Peace River Butterfly Association at Babcock-Webb WMA in Punta Gorda.  We forgot about hunting season which was in full swing at the limited our outing to the marl ponds near Lake Webb and the camping area.  Not so many butterflies....but plenty of dragon flies and some interesting birds.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

40 species and 5 Avocets at Ding Darling NWR!

Saw on Facebook a report of American Avocets (Recurvirostra Americana) at Ding Darling NWR.  Though not really a rara avis they are an unusual winter sighting here in SW Florida, so we thought it worth braving the congested Ft Myers traffic with the hope of spotting some.  We were not disappointed and had a great birding day at the refuge.

The refuge is located on Sanibel Island, near Ft Myers and is 5200 acres of migratory bird paradise.

Ding Darling NWR Wiki link

The refuge is named after J Norwood Darling, conservationist and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist.  "Ding" also designed the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1935.  The refuge visitor center has a wonderful diorama about Ding and a Duck Stamp Exhibit.

40 species is a great birding day, plus a super view of 5 very cooperative Avocets.  Here are some of the birds we saw.
American White Pelicans (Pelicanus erythrorhynchos).

Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens).

Reddish Egret link

Lots of "peeps."  Willets (Tringa semipalmata), Dowitchers (probably Short Billed ((Limnodromus griseus)) ), and a few Dunlins (Calidris alpine).

Field identification of Dowitchers

Lots of mangrove forest at the refuge....with some birds to see.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).

White Ibis (Eudocimis allbus).

Another great feature of the refuge!  Volunteer roving interpreters who show visitors where to see birds.  Here is Paul McKenny who is a talented photographer and knowledgeable birder.  It was a pleasure to meet Paul who shared some photography tips and birding lore.

Tricolor Heron  (Egretta tricolor).

Avocets, Willets, Dowitchers, Reddish Egret, Dunlin....and maybe a Western Sandpiper!  WOW....what a sight.

Hey...don't forget me!  Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).

All five Avocets and friends....just what we came to see.

A 40 species day for my wife's Birder Journal!  Thanks Ding Darling NWR.

Lots to learn about birding, mangroves, ecology and life from new friend and roving interpreter, Iver Brook  (retired Marine Ecologist, WWII B-17 crewman, birder and super representative of the refuge).  Be sure to plan a visit and look for Paul and will have a great day.