November 2011 Bald Eagles

Just northeast of Huguenot Park, across the bridge on Heckscher Drive, are two small ponds on Little Talbot Island.  Next to the ponds are several tall snags (standing dead trees) which serve as perches for Osprey, Vultures, Eagles and other large birds.  Throughout the month I saw several eagles on these snags in varying plumage. 

Most of us are familiar with Bald Eagles in full adult dress.

Bald Eagle (Adult)

But it takes an eagle over four years to mature to this point.  The first year begins in late winter when the eaglets are born and by spring have fledged the nest.  These young birds are primarily dark brown overall, with a dark bill and eyes. Distinguishing between plumages of Bald Eagles can be difficult due to the great variation in individual maturation.  However, I’m guessing that these pictures of different eagles that I saw could possibly represent second, third and fourth year birds.

Bald Eagle (Second Year)

Bald Eagle (Third Year)

Bald Eagle (Fourth Year)

Up the road from here is Ft Clinch State Park, at the northern most part of Florida, in Nassau County.  The highlight of my visit there this month were the American Oystercatchers I saw on a small jetty.

American Oystercatchers

Finally, back at Huguenot Park I saw a pair of White-winged Doves, which are not commonly seen in north Florida.  Also the more common Dunlin, Dowitcher and Willet.

White-Winged Dove


Short-billed Dowitchers


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Thanks again,

Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts” –Rachel Carson