Friday, January 29, 2016

Do NOT Release Balloons - It Wrong AND Illegal in the State of Florida

So, today, I was walking out at the stick marsh. I was about 1.5 miles out on the berm when I saw an entire bouquet of balloons. I was pissed off. It is illegal to release balloons in Florida (see because it is so incredibly harmful to our wildlife. And despite what those in the balloon industry will tell you, latex balloons are NOT biodegradable. I will spare you the gory details, but you can google "balloons wildlife" if you want to see some of the damage from latex balloons - but I caution you, some of the pictures are really horrific but here's a link to one of the less disturbing images). Or if you really want some fun, visit any of the turtle rescue places - there is a good chance that they have turtles with intestinal damage from the freaking balloons, not to mention limbs that are dead from being tangled in strings.

Anyway, I climbed down the embankment to the waters edge and retrieved the balloons. I didn't want to carry the whole stupid bunch back as it was windy and I was afraid I would lose them, so I popped them all when I got back up to the top of the berm. But then, as I was cleaning up all the pieces (and yes, I carried everything back to my car to properly dispose of the trash), I noticed there were notes in all of the balloons. Apparently an old lady died, and her family put notes in the balloons and released them. Now the here's the kicker - there were pictures of birds on all the notes, so I am assuming that the woman liked birds. The irony of people releasing balloons in memory of a bird lover was just too much.

So, my plea to you - if a loved one dies, there are about a million ways to honor them - plant a tree, buy a bench for a park, write a poem and read it out loud - pretty much ANYTHING is better than releasing balloons. If I hadn't spent a life time eating crap, I would suggest that I when I die, someone just feed me to a flock of vultures. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that would kill the vultures. But no matter what you do with my carcass, DONT RELEASE FREAKING BALLOONS FOR ME.

Feel free to share this post. If you don't want to share the whole thing, please at least pass on the part about it being illegal to release balloons in Florida, as well as some other states. I googled this, and there are funeral homes on line who ENCOURAGE ballon releases, and they completely brush off the environmental concerns by claiming that "latex balloons are totally biodegradable, and they harmlessly pop into tiny pieces". That is complete and utter bullshit.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 2016

I only led one field trip this year, and it was cold and windy (33 degrees when we started out at 7:00 am for our field trip), but still as always, the festival was lots of fun. And, I came out of it with 3 life birds. None of the lifers were particularly rare, just stuff that for one reason or another I never managed to get a picture of before. With out further ado (click photos to enlarge):

The wind was insane on Saturday morning. I got a lot of photos of birds having tragically comic bad hair days. This was a great blue, looking a little like PeeWee Herman.
This is a Pie-billed Grebe. One of my favorite birds. I love the way they look so happy even though they appear to be sinking.
This is a Coot. He kinda looks like he had beans for dinner.
This Great Egret and Roseate Spoonbill were hanging out together. They were both having a bad hair day...
What made it funny though, was that the Roseate was being soooo vain - despite the wind blowing hard and constantly, he kept trying to comb his hair...
...and the Great Egret just stood there looking cool, with his hair blowing every which way.
I liked this picture. The Spoonbill is just just having such a bad hair day, but it almost looks to me like he's wearing a torn prom dress from the 80's.
This is one of my lifers for the weekend. Red-breasted Merganser. Look at that crazy orange beak!
The weird thing about the Mergansers was that there was a bunch of them, but no two really looked exactly alike. These ones didn't have the black eye...
...and this one had some black markings on his neck and face that the other ones didn't have. But they all had the crazy shaped orange beak.
Saturday night, David and went out to Shilow Marsh to look for a Short-Eared Owl. We never found it, but we did get a cool critter - this is a terrible photo, but there were two Coyotes on the road ahead of us.
It was very very cold and windy, but the moon was amazing.
Sunday morning, we started out at 7 am, and the temperature was 33 degrees for our Pish-free Birding field trip. All 3 of the participants showed up for it, which was 3 more than we were expecting, given the weather. It started slow, but got better. This is a Black and White Warbler we came across.
Also on the Pish-free birding trip, we had about a million Robins. What I really love about Robins is how no two seem to have the same plumage. This isn't a good photo, but notice how he had black and white stripes on his neck and kind of a speckled red breast. Really unusual and pretty.
This was another lifer. After the Pish Free birding trip was over, we drove through Blackpoint. We came across this Bonaparte's Gull. These are pretty common, but for whatever reason, I have never gotten a photo of one before.
And there were Roseate Spoonbills galore!
I think this White Ibis was jealous of the Spoonbill getting all the attention so he farted on him.
The Spoonbill wasn't amused.
The Ibis farted in another direction after that.
I never noticed that the Spoonbill gets orange armpits in breeding plumage. Or maybe his antiperspirant wasn't working and his feathers were sweat-stained. Either way, it looked good on him.
Proof that any idiot with a decent camera can take a wicked good picture when the subject is pretty enough.
More Roseates...
And more...
And more...
There was one Wood Stork in with the Roseates. What I like about this picture is how his legs blend in with the mangrove roots so that it almost looks like he is legless and hovering above them.
This picture made me laugh, but then I felt bad. White Ibises usually look so pretty and delicate, but compared to the Roseates in this picture, the Ibis looks like a totally awkward goofball. I can relate.
And, just for good measure, some more Roseates.
Here is an Anhinga looking particularly photogenic.
And, then, when I came home, this was on the wall beside my back door. Too cool!