Thursday, February 25, 2016

Florida, part one: Life Birds, Green Cay

Elena and I went to Florida over Presidents Day weekend. We were making a long-overdue visit to our friends Adam and Judy in Palm Beach County, but with their indulgence we got in some birding.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; White Ibises, Boynton Beach Marriott parking lot
exclusive valet birding

I hadn't been in Florida in fifteen years, since before I started birding, so the life birds started coming as soon as we left the airport. White Ibises are all over the place--roadsides, along the ubiquitous canals, parking lots... And I saw my first Anhinga ouside a restaurant where we stopped for lunch. (My Big Fat Greek Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. Very nice place. Try the keftedes.)

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Anhinga, Green Cay
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

And Cattle Egrets are common roadside birds as well.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Cattle Egret, Green Cay
this one was at Green Cay, but trust me, they were all over the roadsides

Birding by the roadside is fun, but the best thing was Green Cay Wetlands.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; White Ibis, Green Cay

This is a fantastic man-made wetlands park, run by Palm Beach County, with about a mile and a half of boardwalks that bring you right up close with normally-reclusive waterbirds.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American Bittern, Green Cay
very shy

This American Bittern wasn't a lifer, but what a view! It was not eight feet away from me, almost under the boardwalk. Funny thing--right after seeing it, I ran into Central Park birder Brian Padden, who was birding there with Big Year birding legend Sandy Komito. I had the pleasure of pointing them at the Bittern.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; White-Winged Dove, Green Cay
just off the parking lot

The birds at Green Cay start even before you reach the boardwalk. Along the path from the parking lot to the nature center building, we saw several warblers, Painted Buntings, and White-Winged Doves.

And then you get into the wetlands, and there's just a riot of birds. There are ducks:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blue-Winged teal, Green Cay
I don't know how I missed seeing Blue-Winged Teals before, but I had.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Mottled Ducks, Green Cay
in south Florida, Mottled Ducks replace Mallards as the common ducks


Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Common Gallinule, Green Cay
Common Gallinules live up to their name at Green Cay

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Purple Gallinule, Green Cay
juvenile Purple Gallinule. I didn't get a really good picture of an adult.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Gray-Headed Swamphen, Green Cay
Grey-Headed Swamphen, an exotic South Florida speciality


Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Tricolored Heron, Green Cay
Tricolored Heron. Well, I suppose you can claim any number of colors you like...

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Little Blue Heron, Green Cay
juvenile Little Blue Heron

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Little Blue Heron, Green Cay
adult Little Blue Heron

Glossy Ibises! Wood Storks! Limpkins!

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Glossy Ibis, Green Cay
Glossy Ibises, another introduced species quite at home in Florida

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Wood Stork, Green Cay
Wood Stork. It took HOW long to figure out these were dinosaurs?

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Limpkin, Green Cay
this Limpkin was loudly asserting his territorial rights after a dispute

and Roseate Spoonbills. My god, the Spoonbills.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Roseate Spoonbill, Green Cay
that spoon, that spoon, that Spoonbill...

And those are just my life birds! I'm not even close to done writing about Florida. More soon.

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