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

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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

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