Friday, August 17, 2018

Bunche Beach

Wednesday August 15th


The First-of-the-Season, for me, Piping Plovers have returned to Bunche Beach
Spent a couple of hours at Bunche Beach Preserve this morning with a dual purpose. First was to look for returning shorebirds and was rewarded with finding nine Piping Plovers are back at Bunche.

Semipalmated Plover
 Timed my visit for a low tide today and encountered a nice variety of shorebirds. The numbers of returning shorebirds are increasing. Didn't encounter any Red Knots today, but on a visit two weeks was able to spot a few with the Short-billed Dowitchers.  Also seen today were Least Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-crowned Night-herons, Willets, Semipalmated Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, lots of White Ibis, Great Blue Herons and Ospreys
Marbled Godwits

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons









There were hundreds of small dragonflies, called Seaside Dragonlets, active on the beach.  In the past I would have ignored the bugs.

 But lately I've joined with so many of by birding friends in the photography and identification of butterflies and dragonflies to fill in the gap during the summer birding doldrums.  
Fish Crow

Seaside Dragonlet
Also a Seaside Dragonlet

Sea Grape



Red Tide Advisory posted at Bunche

The other purpose for my visit today was to see how the Red Tide Event, we are experiencing in Southwest Florida, was effecting this shoreline today. Unlike my visit here  on August 2nd, very little evidence of the terrible fish kill could be seen today.  There were a few small fish - mullets, sea trout, jacks, catfish.  But a large Southern Stingray was seen. 


 But this was nothing like what I had encountered on the 2nd, when there were hundreds of dead fish stinking up the beach. 

It was interesting to identify so many of species seen then The Red Tide fish kill had included mullets, marine catfish, several species of eel, cowfish, flounder, porcupine fish, a nurse shark, groupers including a goliath grouper, speckled sea trout, batfish, pompano and other jacks, spadefish, stingrays, parrotfish, tarpon and other stuff I couldn't identify. 
http://www.myfwc.com/research/redtide/

Tons of these fish have been removed from beaches. Sadly very large numbers of sea turtles, including rare Ripley's Turtles have washed ashore. Many couldn't be saved. Other sea life are suffering as well including dolphins and manatees

So what is the cause for these terrible algae blooms in the Gulf,  Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River. People!!!

The Channelizing of the rivers, the diversion of water away from the Everglades, the Lake O dikes and the nutrient loading of our water sheds by agriculture. But the fertilizers we use to keep our lawns and golf courses so green and lush. And don't forget the contributions from thousands of septic systems. 


So what can be done? Well the people aren't going to be going away. But we'll have to pay Billions to undo all the damage to the environment created by former generations in their efforts to 'drain the swamp'.

Turns out we need the swamps. The water that is currently flushed from Lake O through the Caloosahatchee River and the  St Lucie Canal must be seriously reduced.  And the tainted waters of Lake O must be sent south instead. These waters need to pass through a much larger array of storm water treatment areas, that what already exists today, where the heavy nutrient loads can be filtered out and then sent further south through spreader canals,  instead of the straight channels used now. The tainted water entering Lake O, through the Kissimmee River will also need some type of treatment process to reduce its nutrient load contribution.  This is all very complex.  Restriction on land use, water drainage and fertilization may end up be required. But if the Ice Caps were to melt, all these problems go away. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Some Pics From July

Getting wildlife to pose for a pic can be very frustrating
Tuesday July 31st

Just a few pics from July. Not a lot of birds around, but you can fall back on dragonflies, butterflies and wildflowers.  Maybe a fish or two.



By the end of July the bulk of these Swallow-tailed Kites 
have left the States for their wintering grounds.
 This bird was observed on the first of July in Alva

Purple Gallinule seen at Harns Marsh

White-tail Doe seen at Babcock-Webb WMA

A pair of Mute Swans are resident at a local mall


Cattle Egret in breeding plumage sitting atop the back of a steer


Fiddler Crabs were doing there thing in the middle of the Ding Darling WMA Wildlife Drive

Passion Flower seen at Ding Darling

Tree Crab seen at Ding Darling

Gulf Fritillary are commonly seen this time of year


This tadpole is probably a Cuban Tree Frog

Eastern Amberwing seen at the Franklin Locks

Rambur's Forktail Damselflies seen at the Franklin Locks

Arrowroot is in bloom


A Ramshorn Snail seen at Harns Marsh

This maybe a Golden Winged Skimmer

Believe that this bloom is a species of Sneeze Weed.  Seen at Babcock Webb

A species of Spider Lily seen at Babcock Webb

Halloween Pendent Dragonfly


Wild Morning Glory in Bloom at Babcock-Webb

Brahminy Blind Snakes have been showing up in my home lately. 

Cuban Tree Frogs are every where

The invasive Topfin catfish is becoming quite common

Apple Snail shell is what's left after a Limpkins meal

Thursday, July 19, 2018

EAA

Thursday July 19

Gull-billed Tern

Today I made the hour and a half drive from Ft Myers over to the Everglades Ag Area south of Belle Glade.  Seemed a bit early yet to be checking out the flooded sugar cane fields, but I noticed a few intriguing postings on eBird. 


Black Tern

Arrived in the area of Brown's Farm Road around 8:30 and started with the swallow colony at the intersection of 880 and Brown's Farm Road.  the swallows weren't all that accommodating but was able to pull out one, for sure Cave Swallow, from among all the similarly looking Cliff Swallows.


The flooded fields adjacent to the swallows were very active with a large concentration of Black-necked Stilts.  Dozens of Black Terns were foraging and resting here along with Gull-billed Terns, Least Terns, Caspian Terns, Short-billed Dowitchers and maybe a few Long-billed Dowitchers too. Other species present included Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Least Sandpipers, a Spotted Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plovers, plus Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.


Black Tern

Common Nighthawk
Drove several miles along Brown's Farm Road and did encounter a nice couple of fields that werejust starting to be flooded. Slightly different mix of birds here.  Because the water wasn't very deep yet, it was attractive to nearly a hundred  Glossy Ibis, a couple a dozen Mottled Ducks, a few Common Gallinules and lots more Black-necked Stilts.  Both Yellowlegs, Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers and Laughing Gulls were also present. 
Had to be more than a hundred Black-necked Stilts today

Had hoped to add Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Wood Storks, wintering American White Pelicans, Pectoral Sandpipers and Stilt Sandpipers, but dipped on these.  Its a bit early on these sandpipers but no totally out of the question. But we should see numbers of them soon along with American Avocets and Wilson's Phalaropes

Caspian Tern

Least Tern

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Additional sighting along Brown's Farm Road included a great many Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Both Grackles, Eastern Meadowlarks, Common Nighthawks, Green Herons, White Ibis, Purple Martins and Barn Swallows.

On the drive over and back noticed a few Swallow-tailed Kites soaring mostly near LaBelle, plus a Crested Caracara and several Sandhill Cranes.




Dowitcher

Least Sandpiper

Gull-billed Tern

Black Tern

Gull-billed Tern

Brown-headed Cowbird

Red-shouldered Hawk