Birder's Eye View

Sunday, September 28, 2008

16 miles by bike!

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy
I wish I had a picture for this post, but alas, the events of today left no time for photography. Just over an hour ago, I returned from a 16-mile roundtrip bike ride to the beach and back. It was undoubtedly the most intense bike ride I have ever been on, and I can't wait to do it again, to go farther, ride longer, and work up my endurance.

Last weekend, I joined the college bike club, and today we met in the morning to ride to the beach -- seven miles there, plus another mile to visit the historic fort, and the same distance back. Doesn't sound that hard right?

Well believe you me, for someone who is accustomed to riding only a couple miles a day (and not even that, since college started), I had my work cut out for me. It was harrowing to ride on the busy causeway, and agonizing to power up narrow bridges crossing open water, but the experience was incredible.

Once we got onto the island, we were able to ride along bike paths and enjoy the scenery. Pink and white periwinkles, Beach Sunflowers and palm trees lined the roadway, flashing by as we traversed the path.

Despite our brisk pace, I was able to see some cool bird species. Here is my list for the trip:
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Monk Parakeet
  • Reddish egret
  • Great blue heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Mallard Duck
  • Rock pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Common Ground Dove
  • Brown Pelican
  • Herring gull
  • Anhinga
  • Osprey
  • Ibis
  • Royal Tern
  • Fish crow
  • European Starling

On a somewhat related note, I will be volunteering with Project Feederwatch soon, so stay tuned for updates! Until next time,

Happy birding!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More seabirds

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." - Rachel Carson

It's way too late to be awake right now, but here I sit in my dorm room with a warm cup of mint green tea, blogging. My schedule is about to get extremely busy, so I thought I'd post a few pictures while I still can.

Last week, I went to the seabird nesting area of the beach with a few friends again. One of the first birds we saw up close was a Roseate Spoonbill, wading in the tidal pool.
It was sunset, and the birds were coming in to roost on the shore, all facing the direction of the strong seabreeze blowing in off the gulf. Royal Terns, Least Terns, Black Skimmers, and the occasional American Oystercatcher all huddled together on the white sand beach.

I was really happy with the above picture -- I've been trying to get a good shot of the Black Skimmers on the water, and I finally got a decent photo!

Another artsy shot -- a barge passing over the horizon, and in the foreground, while flocks of skimmers and terns sit on the shore.

I've never seen more beautiful sunsets than I have here at college. It was a gorgeous evening with spectacular scenery.

Another picture of the roosting birds, as the sun slipped low over the waves. I've been enjoying visiting the nesting area frequently these past few weeks, and seeing what kinds of birds are there each time, how many, and how they react to the different weather conditions.

I haven't seen any new species lately, but nonetheless, I have been able to observe some common species. I was also introduced to what is apparently a good birding area on campus for warbler migration season, so I hope to return there in the coming weeks.

*yawn* It's way too late and I am tired from a long day. Until next time,

Happy birding!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Night [wild]Life

No college experience is complete without a night out on the town. Yesterday evening a bunch of us hopped on the bus and spent a few hours amidst the luminous glare of streetlights and the alien environment of the waterfront metropolis.

If you read this blog often, you'll know I'm not much of an urbanite; I prefer solitude and wilderness to the overpowering stimulous of the city. However, I am also an adventurer, and willing to embrace new experiences, even if they are not particularly my cup of tea.

After dinner, we decided to walk down to the pier, a touristy, waterfront area with a building full of shops at the end. As it was nighttime, the streets were populated by a wide diversity of people, from fishermen to hippies to hobos to couples to other groups of college kids.

Had I not been with a large group of friends, the setting would have been quite uninviting. But as it were, and perhaps because of my anthropological interests, the environment and the people we encountered were fascinating.

On the walk back from the pier, I heard someone say, "Oh look, a bird! Andrea, what is it?" As I made my way to the front of the group, I saw what they were pointing to: a Black-crowned Night Heron! Another year bird for my list.

Everyone waited patiently while I snapped pictures of the bird, and some even asked a couple questions about it, for which I did my best to answer. It was a really exciting find, and not one I would have expected to see, walking down the pier at 11 o'clock at night. But I shouldn't be surprised. It IS a night heron!

Happy birding

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