Splish-splash, Red-beasted Merganser really getting onto the bathing thing at J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, FL. Before you call it a female, look closely. This juv./1st yr. bird has a wing pattern of a male with white secondaries and coverts with 2 dark dividing bars. Knowing the age and sex of a bird you are looking at can add valuable information and enjoyment to your birding. For compete information on how to know the age and sex of a species see our new field guides, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region.
This is not NH, where I'm from, it's Captiva, FL with high winds and cold, just for a day.
I am recording the numbers of birds we see today.
So many Ospreys, 69 total, many circling overhead at once, what a treat!
Don, left, and Steve Oresman are the rest of our team, counting the birds on the northern tip of Captiva, FL.
Line ups of Double-crested Cormorants and Brown Pelicans.
And these Turkey Vultures posed nicely, adult on left, juvenile on right.
Hiding in mangroves out of the wind was this juvenile Tri-colored Heron.
In a blow-your-hats-off wind sending temps dropping, we did the Sanibel-Captiva Christmas Count yesterday and numbers of birds were way down. Myself, Don and Steve Oresman covered the tip of Captiva. My favorites were the 69 Ospreys, so many constantly circling overhead made counting a challenge. We also had 369 Brown Pelicans, no rarities. We only had 37 species and the whole of the Sanibel-Captiva Count had 88 species (14,494 individuals) whereas last year the count had 102 species (14,154 individuals). Evidently Ding Darling NWR was hopping with Ibis, herons and shorebirds as the high winds made for exposed tidal flats just right for feeding. It has been unseasonably hot and humid here (except yesterday). Not many land birds. What crazy weather, caused by this strong El Nino season.
Recently there's been a Great White Heron in Litchfield, NH, which is way out of range for this bird usually found in south Florida (my photo is from Sanibel Island, FL). It rarely has been seen outside this range. MA has two accepted records of this form, one record is from RI and there is a Wells, ME report in June 2013. It also has shown up as far north as Nova Scotia. Not a separate species, it is considered a white subspecies of the Great Blue Heron. It has a massive bill which is yellowish with a dark culmen, dull yellow or horn colored legs and feet and bluish facial skin.
Do not confuse it with a Great Egret which is smaller, has black legs, yellow bill and yellow facial skin and is much more common in much of the country. Keep on the lookout who knows where a Great White Heron may turn up.