Last Hours in Florida

Seaside Dragonlet

Seaside Dragonlet

After returning from Naples we cooled off in the pool, and then I spent some time photographing the birds and dragonflies around the property. The Common Grackles and Northern Mockingbirds were around, as usual, and when I walked over the marina I saw a few Purple Martins flying over the water. There are a couple of Purple Martin houses on the opposite shore of the marina where they nest; we saw them bringing food to their young.

I was quite taken with the pretty blue dragonflies perching on the vegetation. The Seaside Dragonlet is the only dragonfly in North America that breeds in salt water, spending the larval stage of its life in the tropical mangrove swamps, saltwater marshes, and some brackish areas further inland.

For some reason I never found the males and females perching in the same areas. Mature males are glossy black, developing a bluish pruinosity as they age. The only place I saw them perching was on the shrubs around the property. Like all skimmers, they perch horizontally on twigs and branches; this is an overhead shot looking down:

Seaside Dragonlet

Seaside Dragonlet

You can see the remnants of the orange spots along the abdomen in this image. As tenerals, the males look black and orange like females.

Seaside Dragonlet

Seaside Dragonlet

Young females are a striking black and orange colour, and the resemblance to female or immature Blue Dashers is quite strong with their down-swept wings, black and yellow stripes on the thorax, and rusty-coloured eyes. Some older females become black like the males and can be distinguished from males by the spout-like ovipositor beneath the tip of the abdomen.

Seaside Dragonlet

Seaside Dragonlet

A Needham’s Skimmer was perching in the same area; it wouldn’t allow me to get close enough for a true macro shot.

Needham's Skimmer

Needham’s Skimmer

As I walked around the building I noticed a large Osprey nest on top of the cupola. It was unoccupied.

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

The evening before I had discovered a pair of Gray Kingbirds nesting in a tree in the parking lot, and went to check up on it. It was quite an accidental discovery – while going to the car for something, I stopped next to the tree and two Gray Kingbirds immediately began hovering in the air above me. They didn’t attack, as I backed away far enough to show that I wasn’t a threat, and when they flew off I watched to see where they went. One kingbird was sitting on the nest, while its mate perched on the telephone wire near the road.

Gray Kingbird on Nest

Gray Kingbird on Nest

Doran and I went back out after dinner to look for dolphins and manatees in the marina. A couple of Eurasian Collared Doves were foraging on the ground in front of the main entrance.

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

One of the Gray Kingbirds was sitting on the wire as usual while its mate sat on the nest.

Gray Kingbird

Gray Kingbird

Gray Kingbird

Gray Kingbird

We waited by the marina until sunset but didn’t see any dolphins or manatees. A Great Egret flew over and we heard a Common Nighthawk calling from sky above us. The sky behind the hotel was gorgeous, especially with the palm trees in front of it.

Florida Sunset

Florida Sunset

Florida Sunset

Florida Sunset

The next morning we got up early to leave for Miami. While we were bringing our things down the outside stairs to the car I noticed a Red-bellied Woodpecker fly in and land on the roof above our room!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The drive back along the Tamiami Trail was uneventful. I spotted a Black-necked Stilt in a pond and two Marsh Rabbits on the grass next to the road! There are only two rabbit species in Everglades National Park, and I knew they weren’t Eastern Cottontails because their ears were small and round. I would have loved to have gotten a photo but there was nowhere to pull over.

We also saw a lot of Black Vultures. In one area we saw about 50 of them perching by the road! There were more near the spot where we had stopped last time to look at the Roseate Spoonbills. (If this spot has a name, I’m not sure what it was; it was beside a business called Tippy’s and eBird has a hot-spot called Fortymile Bend at this location, which I used to enter my observations).

The spoonbills were gone, but one White Ibis and one Green Heron were the only wading birds present. The Green Heron quickly disappeared into the vegetation, while the ibis hunted for fish in the open water.

Immature White Ibis

Immature White Ibis

Immature White Ibis

Immature White Ibis

Immature White Ibis

Immature White Ibis

An alligator swam by, too.

American Alligator

American Alligator

The only other birds I saw were a Wood Stork flying over and about 20 Black Vultures perching on the hydro tower next to the parking area. I did hear a Great-crested Flycatcher calling and the lilting song of a Common Yellowthroat, the only one that I heard on the trip. These warblers winter in Florida but breed further north, from northern Georgia to northern Ontario; perhaps this was a late migrant on its way north.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

That was the last birding stop in Florida. We made it to the Miami airport without any issues, and our flight home was on time and uneventful. I truly treasured our three short days there and enjoyed all the amazing wildlife I saw. It was every bit as fantastic as I had hoped; I was sad to leave, and can’t wait to go back!

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4 thoughts on “Last Hours in Florida

  1. What an enjoyable series! I cannot believe you were only there for three days and yet you saw so much. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Suzanne! I never thought of the male dragonlets looking like Slaty Skimmers, probably because the Slaty Skimmers have dark eyes and hold their wings straight out. They are also much bigger than dragonlets. I think my favourite dragonfly from the trip was the Four-spotted Pennants which we saw at Paurotis Pond. They are also dark blue, but have black patches on the wings and bright white stigmas which make them look so sharp!

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