I’ve been hearing from some of my northern neighbors that snow is still falling, but the ice is out in some lakes and Loons have returned to those open waters. Other big predator birds like Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons may already be on eggs or at least looking at nest sites. The Peregrines just lay their eggs on a rock ledge, building ledge or bridge beam with no nest material.
The Ravens who nest behind my house had copulated on my pond dam before I left, so I’m sure they are on eggs now. They have young in flight and out begging for food by Memorial Day. The little Saw Whet Owls also get on nests early and have young out and about by the end of May. There hasn’t been much movement of bird migrants here on Sanibel Island so far. However, some of the
locals (Bald Eagles and Osprey) have young about ready to fledge.
I photographed the Eagle nest the other morning as the young one was being fed by the adult. The young one still has a little more growing to do before it leaves the nest, but it was standing on the edge of the nest flexing its wings. Many of the water birds and shore birds have been making nests and some are already sitting on eggs. The Snowy Plovers on the beach have set up territories and some are on nests that have string barriers around them to keep the beach goers from stepping on their eggs. You would never see them, as they look like little pebbles in the shells or on the sand.
These little birds sit for 28 days before their two or three little ones hatch. We won’t be here for that, but I did photograph the hatching years ago which was neat. All three that I watched hatch were out running around the nest site within a couple of hours. Then they must contend with beach goers and dog walkers. The little ones blend in with the sand on the beach just like the eggs. They could get stepped on as they just sit down and wait for people to pass by as mom and dad are trying to lead intruders away.
There has been quite a show each morning at the Bailey Tract (loop trail) in different ponds on the property of water birds. Each pond contains many fish of different sizes and there is competition between the birds, the alligators (some 10 and 12 feet long,) and a pair of otters. The alligators did nail one of the water birds one morning. However, there are lots of fish for them to eat along the bottom of the ponds. Breakfast is breakfast when you live out in the wild.
One morning there were over 100 water birds including, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Little Green Herons, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Reddish Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teal, and Mottled Ducks around two of these larger alligators in one pond…which got pretty hectic.
Everybody was finding something to eat, but there was a lot of squabbling going on. If a bird were to misstep, one of the alligators was always in wait when that happened. I did catch a Great Blue Heron on film who nailed a pretty red bream (fish). It had to get out of the pack or lose his catch. I’ve been watching several of the night-blooming cereus plants that I planted around our unit. Yesterday (April 9) one bloomed during the night, and I caught it in the morning before it faded away.
This morning (April 10) two different plants had a blossom. Looking at several of the plants that now grow in the area, there are going to be lots of blooms before we leave here in a couple weeks as flower buds are popping out of the big leaves everywhere. One long leaf had 5 different flower buds, which might all come out on the same day. Last year that plant had over 25 blooms while we were here, and some still had to come out when we left. One of the staff in the office sent me pictures of the blooms they could see right out their office window during that next week.
The weather has been cool and very windy, but it looks like this week is going to be a super beach week with plenty of time to get wet and a tan at the same time.
Older lady missing here this morning (April 10) with a big search going on, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Great Blue Heron with fish. Photo by Gary Lee.