June 2012 Pelagics Plus

We’ll start with the “plus” and save the “pelagics” for last.  A huge plus for me was finding Eastern Screech Owls for the first time.  Leslie Royce and I visited a private property in north Jacksonville and saw both a male and female owl.

Eastern Screech Owl (Male)

Screech Owl (Female)

Leslie’s research suggested that the smaller bird should be the male, which we saw first and for the longest time, in an apparent defensive posture, flying from spot to spot.  The larger owl (female) showed up much later, closer to dark.  She was probably staying back with the juveniles, which we didn’t get to see.

Another “plus” was seeing this Laughing Gull chick during the shorebird survey at Huguenot Park.

Laughing Gull (Chick)

Nearby was the nesting area for the Black Skimmers, which was pretty active.

Black Skimmer

Along the beach I saw Sandwich Terns, a Reddish Egret, and a Forster’s Tern transitioning to summer colors.

Sandwich Tern

Reddish Egret

Forster’s Tern (Summer)

For a nice comparison I saw a “first winter” Forster’s Tern in flight at Hanna Park.

Forster’s Tern (First Winter)

Also, a Red-winged Blackbird and Spotted Sandpiper with different poses.

Red-winged Blackbird

Spotted Sandpiper

I saw a Ground-Dove up in a tree for a change, and a juvenile Green Heron that appeared to be trying to catch flying insects.  It evidently preferred this activity to fishing the pond behind him.

Common Ground Dove

Green Heron (Juvenile)

A quick visit to Howell Park produced a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers, which I suspected might be nesting in the park.

Great Crested Flycatcher

At Castaway Island there were three more pluses–a Painted Bunting, Clapper Rail, and an adult Cooper’s Hawk.

Painted Bunting

Clapper Rail

Cooper’s Hawk (Adult)

At last we come to the “pelagics”–birds that live at sea. Many of these birds breed on islands in the north Atlantic and after nesting disperse out to sea.  Usually they can be observed at the coast only in the event of very strong winds or storms.

It was our (birders) good fortune that during the latter part of July the east coast of Florida was subjected for several days to strong winds off the Atlantic.  The result was that a number of sea-going birds were pushed to shore providing some easy viewing.  My first bird, which I saw from the Jacksonville Beach Pier, was a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel

Next was a Great Shearwater, which I saw from the end of the pier.

Great Shearwater

Finally, I watched some Leach’s Storm-Petrels frolic among the waves, with erratic bounding flight.  They circled back and forth close to the surface, occasionally pattering their feet on the water as they searched for food.

Leach’s Storm-Petrel

The big “plus” here, of course, was finding three new birds to add to my life-list!

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Thanks again,

Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist

NEXT POST   July 2012 – SOUTH & NORTH: Meadowlark, Whistling-Duck, Swallow, Kingbird, Rail, Night-Heron and more!