Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peninsular Florida

Just got back from an 8 day trip to Florida. I have birded Florida a few times now, and it is always fun.

Florida is perhaps most renowned for its wading birds, and it isn't hard to see why.

Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron

Some of the largest concentrations of herons on the continent are to be found in the coastal mangroves and estuaries of peninsular Florida. One of the best known of such sites is the J.N. Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island. Unfortunately, I can't really recommend this site, since the island itself is overrun with tourists.

Perhaps less well known about Florida is its population of Burrowing Owls.

Burrowing Owl

Most people (rightly) associate Burrowing Owls with the mid-west, but there is a disjunct population in Florida that persists despite intense development pressure on its preferred habitat. We observed this guy in the area of Cape Coral which boasts the highest density of Florida Burrowing Owls, though they can be found elsewhere such as Tiger Tail Beach.

Barred Owls are another bird that you might not associate with Florida despite the fact that they inhabit Cypress swamps in high densities. Florida Barred Owls seem especially cooperative for photographers!

Barred Owl

On this trip we visited the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for the first time. This site has hosted the largest colony of Wood Storks in the past, and is also known as the site where visitors can observe the rare Ghost Orchid (though they bloom during summer). We didn't see too many birds here, though the sight of Painted Buntings was a highlight of the trip.

Painted Bunting

Florida is also known to birders for its Psittaciformes (parrots). There are no longer any parrots native to Florida (Carolina Parakeet being extinct) however there are a wide assortment of exotics in the State, some of which have established themselves and are "countable" for your life list. Chiefly among these are Nanday Parakeet and Monk Parakeet.

Nanday Parakeet

Beach birds are, of course, one of the attractions here, particularly the wintering and resident larids and shorebirds.

Royal Tern

Ruddy Turnstone

What would Florida be without its gators! This is just a little guy.

American Alligator


Tracy said...

Love the Painted Bunting! Ok, so maybe Herons and Owls (and the gator) are notable but, given our winter, I'd love to see a living creature so colourful! Thanks for sharing.

Robert Maciver said...

Yes, too bad the photo is so blurry. So I guess you will be able to tell me all about the birds of Italy soon!