December 2011 Purple Sandpiper
December was a great month for seeing many beautiful birds, but the biggest prize was finding Purple Sandpipers with the help of some local birders.
There were at least three on a small jetty at Porpoise Point (Vilano Beach), which is just north of St Augustine. The bird is a rare winter visitor.
At the nearby Vilano boat ramp, on a subsequent field trip with the St Johns County Audubon Society, I had my first look at the Black-hooded Parakeet (Nanday Conure), thanks to trip leader Diane Reed.
Also, across the road at Comanche Cove, there was a group of Black-crowned Night-Herons, juveniles and adults.
Up at the Little Talbot Island ponds I again saw an adult Bald Eagle on a snag, and a Hooded Merganser male in the pond below.
Across the road at Huguenot Park I observed a Red-shouldered Hawk regurgitating castings (pellets).
It consists of a mass of undigested parts of the birds food (bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, teeth, etc) that is indigestible and eventually regurgitated.
I also saw several Savannah Sparrows, winter visitors to the park. And a male House Finch, a year round tenant.
Finally, a couple of water birds got my attention–a White Ibis digging for food with a Willet looking on.
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Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist
NEXT POST December 2011 – Castaway Island: Waxwings, Kingfisher, Owl, Loon and more!
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread . . . where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” –John Muir