Veteran's Day weekend

We didn’t see many birds this weekend, but we saw a gator camped out at the Bailey Tract. It was probably 5 to 6 ft. long.

To be as big as this gator is, he has surprisingly white teeth! Regular trips to the dentist help!

Back in our neighborhood, I snapped a photo of a hawk and an osprey.

And a quick photo of the eagle’s nest. Surely wish I could get closer! But, at least I can photograph it from a distance.

Birds, Manatees, and Gators

We saw lots of different birds over the weekend! It’s great to see them at Ding, the Bailey Tract, and at the beach, catching fish and enjoying getting back to normal.

I think I’ll caption the next picture . . .

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”

Along Wildlife Drive at Ding, we were treated to watching several manatee very near the shoreline. The sun was coming up directly behind them, so getting photos was difficult in the harsh light. It was super cool to watch, though!

I always get this look from an Osprey!

At Bailey Tract, we saw these little Kildeer birds. They are very common, but are such cute little birds.

This Tri-colored Heron caught a fish in the early morning sun at the Bailey Tract.

Look at the photo below of the fish going down his throat.

We saw a small two-foot long gator when we first got to the Bailey Tract. I didn’t stop to check my camera settings and took this spooky underexposed Halloween photo below by mistake. You can click on the photo to enlarge it to get a better look. I love the way the sun lit up the outline of his eyes.

Here’s what he really looked like.

We had a quick trip to the beach. it was great to see clearer water and birds fishing! However, the No-See-Ums were just about the worst we’ve ever experienced. They were swarming us without mercy!

Here’s another photo of the eagles.

The caption for this one . . . “Honey, I’m home!”

Eagles, Hawk and an Osprey

It was a morning of wildlife! I got to see the eagles working on their nest again. I watched a hawk chase a bunch of doves and then rest in a tree after he missed them. And there’s an osprey hanging around in the trees near the nest in our neighbor’s backyard. I had my camera to catch those, but I didn’t have my camera when a large coyote ran across the street about 50 feet or so in front of me this morning! Luckily, he didn’t even look my way.

The pair of eagles were sitting in a dead tree where I could get closer photos today. As I watched, both flew down, snapped off limbs in mid-air and took them back to the nest. I managed to get photos of one of them in the process.

He had to dive downward to snap the branch off.

Then, off to the nest with the branch!

This hawk was across the street from our house.

And off he goes to try, again, to get some breakfast!

We hope this osprey is keeping an eye on the nest to make it his own soon!

Adding to the Nest

I happened to be watching the eagle nest this morning and was treated to getting pics of them adding another piece to it. I can see the nest from two locations and both are fairly far away. Our guess is that the nest is probably at least 600 to 800 feet away from the two vantage points. So, even with my long lens, the photos are a bit grainy. I still enjoy watching them and sharing what I see.

I watched one of the eagles take off. I did my best to track him through the trees.

He (or she) came out into the open and then turned back toward the nest.

He flew straight at a dead tree and without slowing down, he grabbed the end of a dead branch. I heard a loud crack as he snapped off a long piece and continued on through the trees back to the nest.

He appeared to land with it exactly where he wanted it.

The other eagle flew back into the tree just above the nest. They seemed quite pleased and continued to guard their magnificent home.

Birds coming back to Ding

It was great to see a few more birds hanging around at Ding this morning. It won’t be long before the white pelicans return, too!

Our bird expert friend, Hugh, will need to tell me what type of bird this is below. It was in a tree across the street from our home. I don’t know if it is juvenile Great Egret or Little Blue Heron in its white phase or maybe even a Reddish Egret in the white phase. I think it is a juvenile bird, though!

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Eagles 10-11-18

Latest photos of the eagle nest!

I was busy trying to get a shot of the eagle in the nest. I looked at the photo on the back of the camera and saw the second eagle hiding up to the left on a branch!

So, I changed to a different location to get a better angle on the second eagle. It put me farther away, but with the long lens, I was still able to get a photo.

Ding, Pond Apple Trail and Bailey Tract

We hit three good places to see wildlife on the island this weekend. While I didn’t get any great photos, I found several different species to photograph.

I heard something overhead on Pond Apple Trail. It took me a couple of minutes to actually see this big guy. He blended in pretty well.

We couldn’t see his tail, but his body was at least 3 ft. long. Since their tails are always long, I’d have to say he was at least 5 ft. or more.

This female Anhinga flew from a fence post to the top of a tree nearby just so I could get a better pic! ;-)

The little Anhinga below seemed fairly small. It made me think it might be a young one.

It wasn’t scared and seemed pleased to pose for a closeup!

When a butterfly lands on the ground in front of you, of course you take a photo.

We were on our bikes at Pond Apple Trail, when we looked up and saw 2 adult Eagles fly by and land in a tree probably about half of a mile away. Then, we saw two juvenile eagles flying around. By the time I could get my camera out of the backpack, these were the only pics I could get. And we were just too far away to get good photos! But, when you see 4 Bald Eagles at one time, you take pics anyway!!

The first pic is of the 2 juvenile eagles flying above the tree.

One of the juveniles landed awkwardly in the tree above the adults as the other one flew on out of our sight.

The Bailey Tract was closed for a few weeks for work to be done for marsh restoration. Now that it is open, hopefully we will start to see more wildlife returning after the weeks of disruption. We saw this pretty Tri-Colored Heron amongst the new plugs of marsh grass.

My husband spotted this small gator in the weeds/water along the side of the path.

Our drive through Ding yesterday morning was pretty uneventful. But, I snapped a couple of pics. You can see the transmitter on the back of this Reddish Egret.

Big Turtle and Big Bird

Sometimes a drive through Ding isn’t necessary in order to see a big bird and a big turtle. A neighbor called to tell me this very big Florida Softshell Turtle was getting ready to cross the street. I’ve previously seen it going from our lake and crossing the street and into the swampy woods behind the houses. It appeared to be on that same trail today.

Truly a face only a mother could love!

When you look out your kitchen window at dawn and through the trees you see a 4 ft. bird standing on the top of the chimney of the house next door, the only thing to do is grab your camera and go take some pics!

Just as the sun was starting to hit his face, he decided to fly away.

Birds in Flight

I had a chance to catch photos of several birds in flight at Ding today, along with some other birds on the ground. We watched a group of Roseate Spoonbills. Some young ones and a couple of older ones with the dark pink and orange feathers. This is one of the younger ones taking off.

The next two photos show the difference in the older bird and the younger ones. In the first photo, the one on the left doesn’t really even have pink legs yet and isn’t bald.

The one on the right below has pink legs, but has lost the hair on his head and still has the lighter pink wings.

The older one was the last to fly. Luckily, he came straight toward me.

So long . . . until next time, old guy!

Our neighbor, Hugh, will have to identify this bird for me. I read that identifying shorebirds is not for the weak (and certainly not for me!). But, he flew toward me and I got a photo!

This Great White Egret did a flyby, but didn’t land.

This Great Blue Heron flew behind me and I almost missed it.

A couple of days ago, we watched the sun come up along with this big bird in our backyard. It’s always amazing to see a 4 ft. tall bird in your back yard!

First day of Fall 2018

While it’s the first day of fall, it is another hot and humid day on the island! Last weekend when we drove through Ding, we saw only one bird along the whole drive. It was a yellow-crowned night heron. We didn’t even see birds flying overhead. It was upsetting because you have to assume it had to do with the red tide. However, today, we saw several different types of birds.

We saw two Great Blue Herons. This one appears to have the beginnings of mating plumage.

The second one didn’t have the fluffy plumage, but it was still very pretty. I love these huge birds!

We saw a few Little Green Herons. I was able to get a photo of two of them. It was so good to see them.

A couple of days ago, I saw a hawk attack a Little Green Heron and they landed in our neighbor’s yard. The hawk flew away and I went to check on the heron. I could tell that it had at least a broken wing. I called CROW (Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) on the island and they sent a volunteer to pick it up. But, it also had a broken leg. I doubt the little guy made it.

I could watch the Reddish Egret do his little dance and his antics all morning! They seem to work harder than the other birds for their food!

And it is always great to see the Roseate Spoonbills!

This fairly long yellow rat snake was just chilling in the road. They are known by several names and aren’t venomous, but as far as I’m concerned, they are still a snake!!

Below is the lone Yellow-Crowned Night Heron we saw last weekend.

And then back to our neighborhood. This hawk has been hanging around, trying to catch one of the ducks behind our house. He’s most likely the one that attacked the Little Green Heron. He has that hungry look in his eye, doesn’t he?

My post wouldn’t be complete without a couple of pics of the eagles in the nest!

Teamwork makes the Dream Work!!

Yeah, I know, not an original saying, but it is perfect for these eagle photos that I took this morning! It’s exciting seeing them work together on their nest. First they had a little squabble about exactly how to do it.

Not like that! Here, let me show you!

See . . . you go from this end and get it across the nest.

Ok. Now, grab your end!

Let it down gently . . . easy, easy!

Almost there! Just go straight down with it! We did it! Perfect!

Successful trip through Ding

There were several Roseate Spoonbills and other birds on our drive through Ding yesterday.  It won't be long before the winter birds will return, the feathered ones and the human type!

Yeehaw!!

An Osprey flew in, took a quick bath, and then took off again.

We watched this Reddish Egret do his dance for quite a while.  They are so funny when they are fishing for food!

The next three pics of Reddish Egrets are all different birds.  You can see the transmitter on the back of the Reddish Egret in the second photo.

We almost always see a couple of Yellow-Crowned Night Herons on the drive.

And then back home to find this pretty Great White Egret in our backyard.

Eagles back on Sanibel

I was so excited to see that the eagles are back on island and checking on the nest they built last season.   We hope they stay healthy and are able to produce one or more viable eggs this year.  I wasn't able to get a photo of both eagles in the nest today, but I've seen both sitting in the nest in recent days.  They seem to be guarding it to protect their territory.  I hope to get many photos of them to share!  This nest is at such a long distance away, that I used it as an excuse to get a longer lens!  Yeah, it's kind of a weak excuse, but hey, I take 'em where I can! 

Nest Update and more . . .

Last Saturday morning, I took a couple of pics of the Tri-Colored Heron chick.  It was branching out on a limb near the nest, as they do when they get a little older.  I had not posted the pics yet and went back this morning to get some more.  The person who works at the Ding entrance gate said that mid-week, the baby chick was gone.  It wasn't old enough to fly yet, so whatever happened is not good.   We walked down to the nest anyway, but the chick was indeed gone.  He told us that Ding volunteers said the parent bird was there mid-week and very upset. 

It was great to see all the other wildlife today, especially since the city just announced that 403 "tons" of dead sea life from red tide has now been collected on Sanibel beaches.  To see fish jumping in the water at Ding and the birds being active was very heartwarming.  That certainly wasn't the case two weeks ago.

Here are the pics of the Tri-Colored Heron chick from last weekend.  

It was quite overcast and cloudy for our drive through Ding.  I didn't expect to see much wildlife, only to be very surprised at all the birds, a gator, and even manatees!  

I had fun watching several Snowy Egrets bullying all the other birds.  They make a honking sound and fluff out their feathers as they chase any other bird away.  (And yes, I took far too many pics of them!)

Notice the transmitter sticking up from the back of the Reddish Egret below.

He strutted right over to another Reddish Egret and they did a little  Do-Si-Do dance.

If you click on the photo below and enlarge it, you'll see a transmitter on the other Reddish Egret, also.

Got a little wave from a Manatee.  There was a lady that had been watching the manatees closely and said she thought there were at least 8 in the water.  Some of the manatees were adults and some young ones.

The most I got to see of them were their noses sticking out of the water.  It started to rain, so I needed to get my camera out of the rain.  I would have loved to stay and hopefully see more of these large creatures that have made it through the red tide so far.  Many manatees have not survived it.  The average adult manatee is about 10 ft. long and weighs between 800 and 1200 pounds. 

As we left Ding, we saw this large gator, but only his head.

A few days ago, this hawk chased all the doves from the telephone wires as I walked by.  They all managed to get away that day.  I think it is a Red-Shouldered Hawk since they are more common than the Cooper's Hawk around here.  But the two look very much the same to me!