Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ditch 13 Trip, February 1

We had an amazing trip out to Stick Marsh/Goodwin WMA today. I saw something I've never seen before. Read on for dee-tails!

We were treated to great looks at Limpkin right as we were starting out.
This is a Great Egret coming into breeding plumage. Make sure you click to enlarge this one to check out the green skin on his face, which shows that he is totally in the mood for getting down.
This is a particularly adorable male Boat-tailed Grackle.
And, the Boat-tailed Grackle's just as adorable girlfriend.
Ok - this is so cool. David and I were scheduled to do a talk on Red-shouldered talks at a school today. I asked David last night if he could give me an interesting factoid to liven up the presentation. He said that hawks, like owls, eat their prey whole then puke up the indigestible parts in a pellet. I had no idea they did this. So today, we are walking through Goodwin, and David says, "Hey, look at that hawk it's coughing up a pellet." And I actually got a picture of it. I rushed home and added this picture  to my presentation. I don't know if the kids were impressed (I even added in an imitation of the hawk horking when I gave the presentation) but I totally impressed myself, not just with my timing, but the fact that in all my years of birding I have never seen a hawk puke before, and I actually caught it on film my first time.
 Taking decent pictures of Roseate Spoonbills is really just shooting fish in a barrel. But dang, they are pretty.
The Roseates were tussling over nesting areas.
A Great Blue Heron in flight. Not a perfect picture, but to me he looks like someone dropped him.
Sorry, but not matter how hard they were fighting, the Roseates just did not look tough at all, it's like seeing little girls have a powder puff fight!
A Little Blue Heron.
When I teach my classes, I always ask the students what color legs does a Vulture have? Students look at the photo I show and say, "White", then I tell them, "No, they are dark, they just look white because they poop on themselves to keep cool!" And everyone goes "EWWWWWWWW" and I laugh. But in the last class I taught, when I asked, a lady in class yelled, "They are POOP COLORED!" She stole my thunder, but I am going to use that in future classes cause it's so much more fun than my usual answer!
This is kind of cool. Click to enlarge this picure, and check out this Turkey Vulture's nostril - that is sky - you can actually see right through them.
Someone asked why vultures only have skin, not feathers on their head. I explained that its so when they are eating, for example, between the ribs of a dead thing, they won't get yucky stuff in their hair. Then we saw this deer spine and rib cage, completely picked clean. And look at the Vultures above - not a spec of gross stuff on their head at all!

One other really cool thing we saw - a big Barn Owl flew right in front of us. I was too stunned to even position the camera, let alone get a picture. I've seen Barn Owls in the boxes we built at Lake Apopka, but I've never EVER seen one in the actual wild before. It was even more amazing than I ever could have imagined.

Thanks so much to all the folks who came out on the trip with us today, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, and hope to see you out there again soon. And as always, thanks so much to Nick at Ditch 13 Gallery and Gifts for helping to promote our tours.  Please visit the web site, and when you are in Fellsmere, make sure you stop by, it's a super little shop with lots of cool local books, art, and other gifts.

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