Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: Melanie Goes Birdwatching on Bradenton Beach

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Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jul 7, 2016 8:15 PM CST

Moderator

Well, I told you guys that I saw a report on the local NBC affiliate about a restaurant on Brandenton Beach that canceled their July 4th fireworks because the local birds were nesting. On the report, I saw Black Skimmers and Royal Terns. This was the second year in a row they had to cancel the fireworks. But they have a sister restaurant a mile away where they still had fireworks. Anyway, I decided I wanted to reward them with my business - and go see the birds! I asked Mom if she wanted to go have a nice lunch and she said yes.

So south we went. I told the host exactly why we came and he agreed the birds were very important. And he said it was only the second time in 30 years they'd had to cancel. Oh, I forgot. One factor this year was Tropical Storm Colin. It destroyed the existing nests so the birds had to start over.

Our first stop was at the rest area right before the Sunshine Skyway bridge. And I saw some cool birds there. FYI, I used my field guide, Google, and All About Birds to try and ID everyone, but feel free to correct me because you know I'm still a beginner! No offense will be taken. Educate me!

Okay, so I know what Laughing Gulls look like because that black head is pretty obvious. but I saw some with gray heads. I looked through my book and it seems like those are juvenile Laughing Gulls.

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The Brown Pelicans never got as close as I would have liked, but that's why I bought a superzoom camera! Also, their numbers are doing much better. DDT almost wiped them out. We had to ship some to Louisiana to restart their population.

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We were about to head out when Mom saw a bird land near the rocks. I walked over slowly and saw a head. So I walked even slower. And I found a Heron! After consulting my field guide, I think it's a Yellow Crowned Night Heron. When I first saw it, it tried to get something - a crab I think - but it dropped it. That's when I got the pictures where it's shaking the water off.

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We moved on, and got to the restaurant. It's literally right on the beach. This is right in front of where we parked. I was showing Mom the plants because I planted the Blanket Flowers and the Dune Sunflowers in front of our house. And I said, "If they can grow right on the beach, they can grow in our front yard." FYI, it is unlawful to walk on the dunes. They are very important for beach erosion. And wildlife. Mom's favorite was the Railroad Vine. That's the purple flowering vine.

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I filled my belly with a grouper sandwich while Mom had the scallops. Then, we walked along the beach. There were a lot of these brown guys out there. I had a vague notion of "Sandpiper" in my head, but I looked through my book and I think this is a Willet. We'll see more of them.

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There were lots of Laughing Gulls, including the juveniles with the grayish heads.

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I saw two sea turtle nests! And they have little signs where it looks like people can sponsor them. That's cool.

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The Black Skimmer is my new spirit animal. The lower part of their beak is longer than the upper part. Helps them catch their food.

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Lots of Willets

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The other bird I came to see was the Royal Tern. So here are some Royal Terns. FYI, I got a little obsessed with the spotted one. It was the only one like that. What's up with that?

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So there were a lot of these smaller terns. And I "assumed" they were some kind of baby tern. I mean, the birds were nesting, right? But I looked in my book, and online, and I think I realized they're Least Terns! Oops! I'd like to thank the Least Tern for having a yellow bill tipped with black, and that white patch on forehead. Hilarious! Oh, there is a similar Forster's Tern in my book, but it says we only get them in the winter. They also have an all black head. But if you see some you think have all black heads, it's probably because you can't see the front of the head.

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Okay, it's not that I only took one picture of a Least Tern. It's that most of my photos have multiple birds in them and I'm trying to do "one at a time" first. And honestly, I didn't realize I had a different bird until I got home and looked really close at the pictures.

So I heard the Sesame Street song in my head about how one of these things is not like the other. I didn't realize it at the time, but like I said, once I saw the photos, I was like, "Hey! That one is different-y!"

It didn't appear to be in my book, and when I was out there I thought maybe they were juvenile Royal Terns. But the beak was different. I Googled "juvenile Royal Tern" and you know how the first image results are usually right but then they get less accurate? Well, I saw one that looked just like it. But it was called a Sandwich Tern. I went to All About Birds and we do get them here and the description seemed to match. Feel free to tell me what you think!

Okay, the one right in the middle with his beak open. The black beak with yellow tip!

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Now there's two! One on the left and right. Contrast with the larger Royal Tern with orange beak.

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Here's two more shots of one with a Royal Tern for contrast.

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Okay, help me out with this one. Those are Least Terns in the foreground and a Willet in the background on one foot. But the thing with its beak in the water? And the smaller one behind it? I feel like I've confused myself at this point.

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Here they are closer up. The larger one has quite the black head which is confusing and no yellow tip. And the little guy to the left seems to be in some kind of transition phase.

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Here's a Sandwich Tern. You can really see the yellow tip on the beak.

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And this is the part where I post group shots to give you an idea of what it's like. And for fun!

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But that's not the end! There were these small, brown birds flying around the restaurant patio. I couldn't get a picture of one until I found a table with food under it! Jackpot! I think this is a male House Sparrow, according to my book.

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Walking back to the car, there were a couple of Doves grooming themselves up on the power line. I think these are Eurasian Collared Doves from what I can see of the neck.

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That's it! Hope you enjoyed the show!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kurt
Woodbridge , Va (Zone 7a)
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krobra
Jul 7, 2016 9:59 PM CST
spotted royal tern = juvie in my book , Lovey dubby the turtle protection and sponsors , enjoyed the Yellow Crowned Night Heron feather shake nodding
house sparrow = rabbit like breeding locust - if you have to look them up to ID , don't let them follow you home Hilarious! although I am sure if you keep feeding birds , they will find you , black beak with yellow tip - Sandwich Tern looks / sounds good to me. other then that i'm keeping my beak out of it Hilarious! well maybe say the dunes and flowers do look pretty Thumbs up ,

sound and looks like a nice day of learning and exploration.

Thank You! for sharing Hurray! Thumbs up Hurray! Thumbs up Hurray!
Name: Sherri
Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b)
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sunkissed
Jul 8, 2016 11:31 AM CST
Wonderful photos, Mellie. I've never seen turtle nest with the donation signs before.
That are is just full of birds, I've never seen a Willet that recall, what a cool looking bird.
I think you got a better show with the bird than all the loud fireworks. Thumbs up
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Jul 8, 2016 11:46 AM CST
Wonderful show, Melanie! And good on you and your mom for taking your business to that restaurant! Thumbs up
Sadly, not many businesses, or people, would be so thoughtful.
[Last edited by terrafirma - Jul 8, 2016 11:51 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1205833 (4)
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jul 8, 2016 12:04 PM CST
Wonderful, simply wonderful!! Hurray! Thumbs up I can't even pick a favorite!

I agree with Sunkissed, the bird show surely tops any fireworks!! Hurray!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: John
St.Osyth Nr Clacton on Sea. E
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midnight21
Jul 8, 2016 2:16 PM CST
Dont knock the house sparrow. We used to have thousands over here in Britain. They were always called the Cockney sparra when we lived in London's east end just after the war, but they have been on the decline for many years, and are only now starting to make a comeback. Not a colourful little bird, but cheeky. always looking for food when you're working in the garden. The collared doves are a bit of a pest here. Also living on the coast we have our share of Black headed gulls, but great photos. Keep snapping.
Name: Mika
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cliftoncat
Jul 10, 2016 10:44 PM CST
Wonderful, Melanie - thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank You! And great photos! Thumbs up
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jul 10, 2016 10:55 PM CST

Moderator

Glad everyone is enjoying the pics! And thanks for the acorns!

Florida is a pretty environmentally-friendly place. Bradenton Beach is actually part of Anna Maria Island. The residents there have a long history of protecting the animals. For example, years ago I guess scientists (or someone?) finally realized that when the baby sea turtles hatch, they follow the moon's reflection off the water to make their way to the gulf. Well, people had outside lights on their house and it was confusing the turtles. They would walk away from the water instead of toward it! So there's a pretty strict "lights out" policy during nesting season. And on major holidays, volunteers sit near the turtle nests to protect them and they also hand out information to people who want to know more.

FYI, the weather report tonight showed water temperatures in the Gulf to be around 90 degrees! That's water temp, not air temp! Yeah, it's hot out there and the Gulf is warm. (This is why hurricanes build so fast if they get in the Gulf of Mexico. Like Katrina.) We also don't get many waves so the surfing is better on the Atlantic side. But on the plus side, all that toxic algae is on the other coast.

I'll have to travel around this winter when the migrating birds show up and see who I can spot! There are many advantages to living in a subtropical climate! FYI, the humidity is not one of them. Although, I can't say I suffer from dry skin. Hilarious!
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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
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flaflwrgrl
Aug 9, 2016 7:32 PM CST
What a great day Melanie! Gosh, looking at those pictures, I felt like I was back home again. Good call on the Sandwich Tern!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
Image
mellielong
Aug 9, 2016 7:41 PM CST

Moderator

The internet knows all. Also, All About Birds is a really good site. Thumbs up
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Aug 9, 2016 8:12 PM CST
It is. I looked through my bird book for the other 2 you were questioning but came up with zilch. Sad
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



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