January 07, 2013

G is for Gallinule, Gator, Girl, Gulls, Gimpie, Gannet

Ok, I'm a little pink-faced as I admit I forgot to post some stuff from December...so here I am back-tracking to early December, when our daughter was visiting and the three of us had headed down to the Ft. Lauderdale area. We stayed a couple days with my brother-in-law, whom we had lived with the first 6 months upon our arrival in Florida.

While there, the 3 of us and BIL's girlfriend Karen went to the Everglades Holiday Park, to take dtr. on an air boat ride.  We didn't realize we were walking onto the set of a reality show!  This is where "Gator Boys" is filmed.  No TV cameras that day...but we had an interesting, fun visit...despite the lack of any real time spent speeding fast in the boat....

During the air boat ride, we spotted some purple gallinules!  A lifer bird for me, very exciting as the gallinule is so colorful and not seen in very many states outside of Florida....this was my 2nd to last lifer sighted in 2012. Unfortunately I couldn't get any clear pics of one, ARG!

Er....we also spotted a couple alligators, which was expected...

Back on land, we checked out the Gator Boys' gator show, then I shelled out some cash so dtr. could hold a baby gator....awww, isn't it cute?

Not so cute that we minded snacking on one of its cousins...Karen bought us all a plate of gator bites, frog legs, and some unidentified fish, all breaded and deep fried...duh...

I'd already tried gator some time ago, but frog legs? If dtr. can do it, so can I....
they taste like mild fish...(not chicken!)

While snacking, we had a peacock hanging around, looking for hand-outs....don't bother rubbing your eyes, it IS a peacock!

In fact, we had a line at the table waiting for dropped crumbs...that's a boat-tailed grackle behind the peacock....

Mr. P went as far as posing pretty to try to encourage us to toss him some goodies...

*    *    *    *   *

Ok, back at home.....

Update: I had this labeled as an American Pipit and a lifer...my first reaction had been that it was a female red-winged blackbird, but the vivid white eyebrow threw me off because the female blackbirds I'd seen while living in S Dakota had less prominent, beige eyebrows.  Fellow bird nerd Laurence let me know (thank you!) he believes it's a blackbird...so I went back over my two field guides and, looking at the beak, I would have to concur this is the female red-winged blackbird....darn it.  LOL. Oh well, that just means that my last lifer sighting for 2012 is the blurry Northern gannet!

Back to 2013.....barely....

Rube and I hit the beach a few days ago, soon as the up and down weather hit an "up"....
We saw the usual shore birds, like this sanderling amid some frothy sea foam...

Ok everyone, pop quiz.....what IS this?!  Choices: Red Knot (winter plumage), which I believe it is; Western sandpiper, which appears to have black not greenish legs; or least sandpiper, tho I'm pretty sure it's not that due to the size and darker winter plumage. The other similar birds either don't come to Florida or don't have greenish legs in winter or...I'm labeling it a red knot.  A lifer!

I just don't get it...how can the juvenile ring-billed gull be larger than the adult?!  Can anyone explain this?!  Or is there another immature gull that looks like the imm. RBG? ARG!!

This sweet little ruddy turnstone was resting on the orange shell chips that were scattered on the beach...

But it wasn't alone...this one-legged sanderling was sticking close by. Aww, what are friends for?!
(And yes, I'm sure it was one-legged, I saw it hop.)

I shot this very distant flyer out over the ocean, thinking it may be a wintering white pelican...but it's a Northern gannet!! Another lifer!

So, there's a long boardwalk from the parking lot to the beach in this one spot...along the boardwalk there's a sign with info about the burrowing gopher tortoise that lives in the dunes there, which is clearly being protected from beachgoers.  There was an older couple reading the sign when we came back over the walk towards the parking...I mumbled to myself, yea right, you and I will never see one tho.....crossing the parking lot, we saw 3 kids huddled together looking at something....and there was this tortoise trudging along, hell-bent on reaching the safety of the dunes.  A turtle lifer!

Heading back south along A1A, we stopped in the Marineland area (a town with a dolphin rehab center)...to check out a holding pond, where some big groupers were swimming around...at the far end was this lone little blue heron....

Outnumbered by a flock of brown pelicans....

On the lawn nearby, killdeer were making their eerie call...

And to cap the outing, further down the road Rube pulled over when an osprey flew over the car and I exclaimed, "It's got a fish!"  Luckily, the osprey landed on a nearby pole, still flopping fish in its claw, and I was able to get some decent shots.

** My bird species count for 2012 is a measly 83, so I'm hoping to see at least 100 in 2013.


  1. Bunches of feathered folks we won't see till spring in SD. Hope you are enjoying your first Florida winter!

    1. Hmm, well I never saw some of these birds in my 7 years in S Dakota, like the N Cardinal. Nice to hear from you again, thanks for stopping by! Oh, and this is our 2nd winter in Florida, hard to believe! We arrived in Florida in late October 2011. Time flies!

  2. Nice shots Jann, and great post too.
    I think Red Knot is a good call on that ambiguous shorebird, but for my part, I am suspicious that the bird on your feeder is not an American Pipit--I think it is a juvenile Red-winged Blackbird, or at least some sort of Icterid.

    That Osprey is awesome!

    Thanks for sharing, cheers!

    1. Laurence, *sigh* I'll have to concur that you're right about the pipit actually being a red-winged blackbird. The guide does say the eyebrow can vary from white to beige, I'd just never seen one so white...had seen many of the RW blackbirds in S Dakota. The beak shape fits the blackbird, the pipit's is straighter. Thanks for holding me accountable, ha! I guess I was getting greedy with my lifer list! ;)

  3. A wonderful post filled with a great variety of wildlife and fantastic photographs! Congratulations on the life birds. Every time I travel down to Florida, I search for Purple Gallinules, but have yet to spot one. The colorful plumage is lovely. I love the cozy Rudy Turnstone and awesome Osprey with catch photographs, all of your images are terrific, though. Sounds like you had a nice trip.

  4. hey I wonderd if I could use your third peocock picture as an refference for drawing. I love it. and its always a good idea to ask permiision to the owner

    1. Hi Cindy, thank you for asking…yes you're welcome to use the photo. :)