Memorial Day at Cutler Wetlands

I spent an overcast Memorial Day morning at the Cutler Wetlands.  A light breeze was enjoyed by me and the birds alike.  I watched the usual cast of Ibises, Sandpipers and Moorhens feeding in and along the shallow waters and of course I snapped a few photographs.

Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

Western Sandpipers feeding along the water’s edge.

A group of White Ibises took to the sky in unison.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

This Tricolor faces into the wind and displays its beautiful plumage.

Nice Catch!

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

A pair of Common Moorhens cautiously picking through the puddles.


Northern Rough-winged Swallows

The other day I stopped by Castellow Hammock Park in southern Miami-Dade County, FL.  I was greeted by several Northern Rough-winged Swallows zooming in circular paths through the sky directly above me.   I tried to follow them and soon discovered that they were nesting in the birdhouses near the front entrance.  These little birds were a lot of fun to watch and a first for my Life List.  I watched them for several minutes as they went about their business.  They popped in and out of the birdhouse windows, chirping to each other constantly, and after awhile I think I was able to figure out what they were chirping about…

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Oooh La La! 


Wood Stork on the Anhinga Trail

Earlier this year on a visit to the Florida Everglade’s Anhinga Trail I had the pleasure of getting up close to a Wood Stork.  Occasionally I see these birds foraging in the canals that run alongside Florida highways or flocking overhead.  They are interesting birds and the only members of the stork family to breed in the US, so I was happy to finally get an opportunity to experience one close up.  These large wading birds have fascinating feeding technique. The Wood Stork steps slowly through shallow waters, submerging its large bill – leaving it open.  When a unsuspecting fish swims through, the stork’s bill slams shut with lightning speed.  Here are some shots of my Wood Stork taking a break between feeding sessions.

Notice the black trim along the edge of the wing.  When the Wood Stork is on the ground it appears to be an all-white birds but in flight the black undersides of its wings are displayed.

The Wood Stork’s large bill snaps shut with lightning speed when it detects a fish.  At 25 milliseconds this is one of the fastest reflex reactions among vertebrates.

References and More Information:
Cornell Lab of Onithology

Tag. You’re it!

Sandpipers are a lot of fun to watch.  They are fast runners, darting around on their little legs then taking to the air looping in tight circles to defend their territory.  Sandpipers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and their populations are widespread.   They are shorebirds but also found inland along marshes and ponds.  These two Western Sandpipers were engaged in a game of tag at Cutler Wetlands.

Two Western Sandpipers engaged in a game of tag.

Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

Baby Mockingbird

“Why do you lug all that camera equipment to work with you everyday?” my wife asks.  Because I never know when a photo opportunity may arise.  This morning, after arriving at work, I heard some baby birds chirping as I walked across the parking lot from my car to the building.  I looked up to see some young Northern Mockingbirds beckoning to their mother (or father) for a snack.  Just then an adult bird swooped in and delivered a treat right into the waiting beak of one of the babies.  I fumbled with my camera bag, but the action was over well before I was ready to start shooting.  I did manage to get one nice image of the baby enjoying the meal he had just received.

Juvenile Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)