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.

Purple Sandpiper

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.

Black-Hooded Parakeets (Nanday Conure)

Also, across the road at Comanche Cove, there was a group of Black-crowned Night-Herons, juveniles and adults.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Adult)

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.

Bald Eagle (Adult)

Hooded Merganser (Male)

Across the road at Huguenot Park I observed a Red-shouldered Hawk regurgitating castings (pellets).

Hawk Regurgitating

Hawk Expelling Castings

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.

Savannah Sparrow

House Finch (Male)

Finally, a couple of water birds got my attention–a White Ibis digging for food with a Willet looking on.

White Ibis and Willet

Please submit any comments by using the “Reply” box below.  If you are not “subscribed” and would like to receive future posts automatically,  just “click” on the “Follow” button at the bottom right corner of the page.

Thanks again,

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