Birds in Florida

We have had sunshine most of the week, with some clouds a few days. Temperatures from 70 to 80 degrees. To all my friends in cold and snowy PA, I wish you were here!

I went birding on several days, at Fort De Soto Park, Lake Seminole Park, the beach behind our condo, and any pond anywhere that looked interesting.

I also visited the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, where they receive 20-45 sick or injured birds a day. They admit about 8,000 birds each year, releasing all who can recover sufficiently. It takes 600 pounds of fish daily to feed their birds. You may want to check out this organization at: http://www.SeabirdSanctuary.com.

Back to my outings, I saw a great variety of birds. My camera is a simple point-and-shoot one, so I do not try any fancy bird photos, but here are a few of the sightings I caught in digital format.

A ring-billed gull.

Many shorebirds are in now winter plumage, not as striking as their breeding plumage. Above, larger bird, orange bill, crest at the back of the head – Royal tern. Smaller bird, black bill, orange legs – Common tern.

Sanderlings move quickly, following the edge of the waves, probing for food.

Willets.

White ibis. When they fly, their wings show black tips – an impressive sight.

Over the past two decades I have been to Florida several times, and have looked in vain for the limpkin, a fairly large waterbird that is often quite elusive. This time I was advised to try Lake Seminole Park, where Scott, a Florida birder, said they have become more accustomed to humans and are regularly seen along the path. I went there for two days and saw many other species, including a tri-color heron, but no limpkin. I think they all heard I was coming and agreed among themselves to keep out of sight.

On the third day, success! A close-up view. Rich chocolate brown in color, with white spots on the neck and back, and a long decurved bill. That day, sadly, I did not have my camera with me. When I returned the next day with camera, it was a foggy and the only limpkin in sight was far away and – of all things – in a tree! But let’s point and shoot anyway.

Not impressive photography.

So to give you a better view of this creature, I went to the internet and found this image. As far as I can tell, it is by Bill Thompon III, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest.

Have any of my readers seen a limpkin? Or is there some other elusive bird you are pursuing?

The limpkin was a species I had never seen before in my life. Also, a few days prior to this I saw a reddish egret at Fort Do Soto Park, and this egret was also a new bird for me, so my life list, as birders refer to it, now totals 518 species.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi, Florida John,

    Yes, Harold and I saw some limpkins when we were in FL. Can’t believe we saw a bird species before you did!

    Lucy

    • You go to the head of the class!
      People have been seeing rough-legged hawks near Paradise and at Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge. These hawks are rare in our area. The last one I saw was in 1965, my notes show. So far I haven’t had time to go looking for the rough-leggeds locally, but I did have time to drive to Florida. What strange contradictions I live with!

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