Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Knot - Little Estero Lagoon

Red Knot -
Little Estero Lagoon - Ft Myers Beach
May 24th

Little Estero Lagoon
  Got here by 8 o'clock am in a effort to finish up before it gets too hot. Temperature highs today are expected to be around 92 and sunny. Also arrived on a high tide. Had hoped to find my foy gray kingbird today, but this was my only miss on target birds today. Immediately had Magnificent Frigatebirds and a Bald Eagle perched high up on the facade of a multi-storied condo building. Also quickly found newly hatched Wilson's Plovers, that a photographer informed were hatched just last Friday, the 21st. Was lucky to also find a Snowy Plover.  Would end up locating a total of three snowies and getting my first ever photos. A lone Red Knot worked the shoreline and also gave me great looks. Had flybys of American Oystercatchers and Black Skimmers.  A couple of White Morphed Reddish Egrets were on hand plus about three other red Reddish Egrets. were present. A pair of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers could be seen bringing food to their nest hole in a dead palm. A lone, roped off, sea turtle nest was seen, as were a dolphin and a marsh hare.
   The big event on the beach were the couple of hundred, (just an estimate) Least Terns nesting on the beach. Wildlife management ropes off large areas of the beach to protect the nesting Wilson's Plover, Snowy Plover and Least Terns from having the nest sites trampled and to reduce the stress level on these birds.    
     Well the terns are very aggressive to any potential danger to there nests and chicks.  I was able to watch as one tern drove off a ghost crab.  These crabs are very hazardous to these nesting birds are they prey on hatchings and eggs. It has been reported that they had decimated the breeding efforts for snowy plovers at other nesting sites.
   The terns' aggression was not limited to crabs, but also too the many people using the beach. They also did not recognize the limitation of the roped off areas and had actually expanded beyond.  It seemed to me that they claimed all of the beach up to the water line. When you find yourself too close to a nest they would defend themselves with dive bombing attaches, including trying to defecate on you, coming very close to your head. It is hard not to flinch.  But what you need to do is exit the area as quickly as you can, because in-part this stress is very hard on the birds.
   The three species of birds nesting here are considered threatened to one degree or another and a great effort is being made to protect them. One tragedy last year involved a vehicle being driven onto the beach, killing a nesting tern and destroying several other nests.  Don't know if anyone was ever arrested.  But actions such as this is one reason why these birds are threatened.

Wilson's Plover are actively nesting on Ft Myers Beach

Wilson's Plover hatchling. Several were seen today. Most only a few days old.

Snowy Plover

Red Knot 

Least Terns

My List (36) - Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Fish Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

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