Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 2-Part 2: Roseate Spoonbills and Friends

After leaving Ding Darling, we set off for Lovers Key State Park. We heard that there were Dolphins and Manatees there, and wanted to make a stop. As we approach the entrance, we see some pink creatures along the parks grassy area and find an entry road to where they were. All of these shots were taken from the car window.

Seeing these guys was a thrill of a lifetime!

I had only seen them through other peoples lenses, and now I get to see them for myself!

The roseate spoonbill spends a lot of its time in shallow water feeding. It sweeps its open bill from side to side in the water to sift up food like small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails and insects. It has touch receptors in its bill that help it feel its prey. Like the flamingo, the roseate spoonbill's pink color comes from the food it eats. Some of the crustaceans it eats feed on algae that give the spoonbill's feathers their rosy pink color.

The most distinctive characteristic of the roseate spoonbill is its long spoon-shaped bill. It has a white head and chest and light pink wings with a darker pink fringe and very long pink legs. The roseate spoonbill is about two and a half feet in length with a wingspan of about four and a half feet.

We also found a Little Blue Heron feeding with the Spoonbills!

The little blue heron is a small heron. It is about two feet tall with a wingspan of about 40 inches. It has slate-blue feathers with a maroon neck and head. Its bill is gray with a black tip and it has gray to blue legs and feet. Its long bill is gray with a black tip and it curves slightly downward. It has yellow eyes and black legs. Males and females look alike. Young little blue herons are white and have blue bills with a black tip and dull green legs.

Another friend with the Spoonbills was this White Ibis!

The white ibis about two feet tall and has a wingspan of about three feet. It is entirely white except for its black-edged wings. Its blacked tipped wings may not be noticeable when the ibis is at rest, but are easily seen when it is in flight. It has a long, down-curved reddish-orange bill and a reddish-orange face. It wades in the water sweepings its heads form side-to-side in search of food. It uses its long, curved bill to probe in the mud for crabs and crayfish. It swallows its prey whole. It also forages for food on land and it may also eat insects, frogs, snails, marine worms, snakes and small fish.

Tuesday was absolutely the best day for new wildlife! Ding Darling, along with roadside stops made this day amazing! We saw just about everything on the list we needed to see in waders on this day! The only wader I didn't get was the Anhinga. We saw one in Fort Myers at a pond on a busy highway, turned around to take a few shots, but it flew out of sight. Oh well, 7 out of 8 is pretty darn good!

Tomorrow: Plenty-O-Peeps!


Tina said...

Hannibal, such stunning shots of those roseate spoonbills!! Your 3d and 4th shots of that spoonbill are perfect and you sure covered quite a bit of ground in two days!! Definitely a lady on a mission!!
Great post!

Nick S said...

Very cool ! Lucky you. Those would have been new for me too.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Amazing pictures.This must have been thrilling to see these birds so close.

Montanagirl said...

These are just stunning! They're all wonderful. Thank you!

Bird Girl said...

How cool to see that spoonbill in action! You got some great shots there and I am amazed at how close you were - that new lens is a dream come true for you! Great stuff, Hannibal!

Eve said...

A thrill for sure! Great photography Hannibal!