Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bulletin #10 - South Florida #5

David & Linda McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas

Bulletin #10 – South Florida – part 5

Hello friends,

I have had the opportunity to visit Florida twice in the first half of 2007.

My first visit was to Sanibel Island in February. Last month, I had a business trip to Miami for a weekend and managed to spend about 2 full days birding with a great guide Paul Bithorn (305.431.5908 or email

Between Sarasota and Ft. Myers and right off I75 is the Babcock-Webb preserve. It is one of the best place for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. The trees with the nest holes are marked etc. Unfortunately I didn’t see them. This is still a species I have never seen.

But I did get a different life bird there, the Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). I was driving around and came upon a couple of birders who had a pair of nuthatches right beside the road. Here are a couple of photos. The second one shows the characteristic white spot on the nape of the neck.

http://www.pbase.com/image/109474250 click ‘next’ once

I also chased a beautiful male Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) for a considerable distance along a sandy trail to get the following photo.


My wife, Linda, and I were staying on Sanibel Island, off the coast from Ft. Myers. It is famous as the best shelling location on the gulf coast. But, it is also famous for Ding Darling NWR. This fabulous wildlife sanctuary has a 4 mile paved road through mangrove swamps, forested area etc. Every day is as busy as High Island Texas in migration. One can drive along and pull off to the side to watch the birds or take pictures anywhere along the route. As well as lots of waders, there are alligators, raccoons and other mammals to see if one is lucky.

These next 3 photos were taken by my wife Linda, with the landscape camera. The first shows typical mangrove swampy area in Ding Darling at low tide.


The next 2 show the extensive number of wading species and water birds seen in Ding Darling. How many species can you find in each photo?

http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/109474255 click ‘next’ once

Here are some of my photos from Ding Darling. The birds are quite tame as there is so much vehicular traffic. Often with the 500mm lens, I would have to move away from the bird so I could get the whole bird in the photo!

The first is one of my favorite. It is a preening Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga).


There were many Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) seen here. Did you find the Wood Stork in the second picture above? Here are several photos of this magnificent bird. The first photo showed the pink feet. I did not know this feature of the Wood Stork. Notice the bare black neck and head. Also, they will completely submerse their head to capture food.

http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/109474258 click ‘next’ once

I also got a good photo of the Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor). This is a non-breeding adult.

Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) were common and easy to photograph. Here are the male and female of this species at Ding Darling.

http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/109474262 click ‘next’ once

The Miami guide (Paul Bithorn) I used, was extremely knowledgeable, especially for the mangrove species and exotics. Many of the exotics occur in specific neighborhoods in the Miami area, and a casual birder would have a difficult time locating them. To contact Paul, call him at (305) 431-5908 or email him at

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy Birding,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2007 David & Linda McDonald

Note – photos with the name preceded by an asterisk were updated for this blog and the text was edited accordingly.

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