To start this post off I'm going to show off a colourful garden bird common in eastern North America. This bird is superficially similar to all other typical members of its kind and certainly doesn't win awards for taking risks with its plumage choice. Though it may share the same red-black-white colouration of virtually all north hemispherean members of its family, it is still unique. Here is the red-bellied woodpecker:
This rather fantastic looking bird is quite common in the right places here in Florida, and possibly also one of the loudest and raucous woodpeckers I've encountered. Though perhaps this is because it is quite a sociable woodpecker who is often accompanied by several others of its kind. Unlike other woodpeckers, it knows how to show off that stylish red hair. Unfortunately those who named it were so jealous of this amazing hairstyle that they named it after something far less conspicuous; the slight pinkish tint on the underparts of many (but not all) individuals:
|How you see an osprey in Florida. Distance to osprey: less than 10 meters.|
|How you see an osprey in the UK (through the word's best telescope). Distance to osprey: over 5 miles.|
I could not end this post without some insect life, starting with some locally common butterflies.
|Zebra. A trademark member of tropical butterfly houses, flying here as if it were nothing.|
|Both sides of gulf fritillary. One of the most vividly coloured butterflies here for sure.|
|A monarch fighting a queen over flowers in Fort de Soto Park. Interesting that the monarch actually seems to be "kicking" the opponent, not a behaviour I was aware of in butterflies. I'm sure a good joke could be made here, but I can't think of it.|
On one particularly memorable occasion at Fort de Soto Park I was quite literally surrounded by herons. I first watched this little blue heron lurking in mangrove shadows:
Behind me was this white-phase reddish egret:
On the coastline down the beach was a little egret. And in the trees far away was a great egret. What a place. Earlier in the trip I spotted an unmistakably bright pink spot on the horizon. Even though it was a few miles away it was undoubtedly a roseate spoonbill. I hope to see one closer eventually.
An extra incentive for Fort de Soto Park was the reported groove-billed ani, one of the most peculiar of cuckoos that occasionally wanders up into the United States, usually in Texas. Unfortunately there was not a lot of information on its whereabouts, with people just saying it was "south of the North Beach car park". I met a few other birders who were equally puzzled on the directions, so after an hour I so I just walked around and hoped it would find me. While surrounded by herons I had heard its squeaky-toy whistle and glimpsed it very briefly on top of a shrub down the path. Nice! I made a bit of a dash to the path on the other side of this hedge and after a good few minutes of waiting turn around and see it just sitting there. For such a supposedly skulky bird it was rather tame.
|Note the grooves on the bill as per its name.|
|A good head on-shot because not many people take (or keep) head-on shots.|
|Credit given to the lark sparrow for finding a new way to make shades of brown look interesting.|
And I...don't know where to put this so...have a moth.
|A nice moth: Hemeroplanis scopulepes|
All in all, you could say it has been a good first week in Florida! I haven't covered even half of what I have seen in this state so far, but perhaps during longer reprises from trips I'll stick some "themed" posts together in the future.