Sunday, December 18, 2011

White Ibis, Summerland Key

Before field work today I did some pre-breakfast birding around Summerland Key. First I checked the lagoon on East Shore Drive which held 7 Tricoloured Herons (very active feeders), 7 White Ibises, 18 Snowy Egrets, 8 Greater Yellowlegs, and singles of Belted Kingfisher, Great White Heron, Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Great White Heron, Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-billed Gull and American Kestrel. A pair of Ospreys were active at a roadside nest. In the surrounding scrub were Gray Catbird, Palm Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird and 12 Red-winged Blackbirds while a few Turkey Vultures circled overhead.

I then moved on to a small freshwater pond on Katherine Street which held 14 Blue-winged Teal, a pair of Wood Ducks, two pairs of American Coot, a Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Great Blue Heron, and a White Ibis. Wandering around the roadside, a group of 8 White Ibises were probing in the verge.

Later in the day, I saw two Northern Waterthrush while kayaking some small mangrove channels on Sugarloaf Key.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Green Iguanas in Florida's Mangroves

The most interesting reptile seen while kayaking in the mangroves this week was a Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda). Andrew and Bernhard found it and mananged to photograph it. We've seen many Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) too. This species is not native to Florida (Central & South America) and is classed as invasive. There are some real monsters around, several feet long, but are remarkably agile in the thin branches of the canopy. I've seen them in Peru but never this close - they don't seem too bothered at human approach here. This one below was one of 25 iguanas sunning themselves at dawn around a small freshwater pond on Summerland Key.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Florida Keys field work

I’m back in the Florida Keys on field work. Before the plane had even landed at Miami I saw a Loggerhead Shrike flying around some vegetation on the runway. Today I got great looks at Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, White-crowned Pigeon, White Ibis, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Great White Heron. Unfortunately water and cameras don't mix (unless you have under-water housing) but here is photo from last time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sketching & stretching

Did another quick sketch last night for the forthcoming Ayrshire Bird Report - a drake Common Eider (Somateria mollissima).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Crane of the swamp

A few months ago in London's China Town, I saw this sake (a type of rice wine) in a small market. I really bought it becauses of the attractive packaging which depicts the Japanese or Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis). The brand name Sawanotsuru translates as 'crane of the swamp' from Japanese mythology. I made these images in my home-made studio white box.