Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Magnificent Frigatebird in Charlotte Harbor

Thursday, May 26th

A Wilson's Plover

I had been interested in visiting the town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island for a while now.  The delay was because of the long drive from Ft Myers.  You have to drive completely around Charlotte Harbour to get onto Gasprilla including a $5 toll bridge fee. But I was curious to see the iguanas and pea fowl that had been plaguing the community. Boca Grande had started as a sleepy fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico untill it was discovered by the rich and famous. The family vacations here to fish and play golf and Denzell Washington filmed part of his movie Out of Time at Boca Grande.
The light houses at Boca Grande Island State Park

Found several Least Terns nesting on the beach at the state park

Did not find any iguanas at Boca Grande, but had this fello at the fishing pier at Placido

Great Blue Heron keepiong a watch on the fisherman waiting for a free meal

Osprey at Placido fishing pier
My targets for the day included the pea  fowl and iguanas, but also to see if any magnificent frigatebird would be around. The first stop was at Cape Haze Park outside of Port Charlotte. Lots of Northern Cardinals and Mourning Doves. Not much else besides a calling White-eyed Vireo

Onto Gasparilla Island were I spent time exploring Gasparilla Island State park and the town of Boca Grande. The beaches on the Gulf of Mexico were quite bare of bird life.  Saw a few Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls. A few Least Terns were nesting here and the only shore bird was a lone Willet.

On the the Boca Grande Pass side of the state park was much birdier with the Magnificent Frigatebirds I was looking for plus lots of Laughing Gulls, Cormorants, Brown PelicansWhite Ibis and Osprey. The most intersting thing to see at the Pass were the many boaters congreated here to fish for Tarpon. The location is world famous for its Tarpon fishing.

Also found everywere were Northern Mockingbirds and more cardinals, doves, ospreys and large flocks of white ibis on the golf coarse. Chimney Swifts soared overhead and several Gray Kingbirds were located too. But pea fowl were seen or heard. No iguanas either.  I already knew that the town was paying for trappers to remove the big lizards. So maybe they were much less common now.

On the way back home I chanced to stop at the Placido fishing pier. Here I finally located an iguana, and stayed awhile to enjoy watching the activity here. The pier is close by that toll bridge, which is not one of those bridges that lift up but swing out to allow boats to pass.  Found some more frigatebirds and all the other usual coastal birds here icluding cormorants, laughing gulls, brown pelicans, a pair of Green Herons and Great Blue Heron keeping watch on the fisherman.  A special sighting was a large manatee, which was sporting large gashes on its back, pass under the pier.

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