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Thursday, 7 May 2020

Wildlife Garden Challenge: Update 5

Another Update from Keith Metcalf of Milford Conservation Volunteers:

For this update, I have dispensed with the usual list of wildlife recorded from a garden in favour of using the letter that accompanied this report from my Keyhaven friend Nick Pocock. Nick is lucky to also have a home in Sarasota, Florida from where he sent this report of the birds he can see from his 'deck' - as he calls it.

The lovely photograph taken from his 'deck' is stunning, yet Nick says that he prefers his home in Keyhaven!

You will also find two collages of some of the colourful water birds he mentions below.

Nick takes it from here:

click image to enlarge
I attach a photo taken from our "deck" overlooking a bay on the Intracoastal Waterway in Sarasota, Florida. We don't have a garden as such but you can see that between us and the water is a fringe of mangroves (with some orange coloured new season's Sea Grape leaves and some Buttonwood) underneath some Evergreen Oaks - the local variety being predominately Quercus Virginiana. Our community has a grand-fathered permit to trim the mangroves once or twice yearly. In the distance the mangroves are not trimmed and have grown as high as twenty feet. 

I am a very low grade twitcher so I can't identify the relatively few little birds that show on the land side of our house. Recent mid-size birds have been Cardinals, Mocking Birds, Pileated Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves and lone, noisy Fish Crows. One morning recently a Short Tailed Hawk (we think) was sitting in one of the oaks waiting for prey or a view of our breakfast. We do sometimes see Red-shouldered Hawks but this one looked different. 

click image to enlarge
With the exception of the constituents of distant armadas of mixed ducks which have been around recently, water birds are easier to identify, although the juniors of some species have a bad custom of looking much like adults of others. 

Common waders etc. seen daily are: Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Great Egrets and White Ibis. Brown Pelicans are always about but the White Pelicans which arrive reliably in late November, have long since moved on. 

Many mornings recently it has been a pleasure to see one or two Roseate Spoonbills flying past. In early spring we used to see more -- standing in shallow water filtering mud in the presence of many other waders, including Wood Storks. Our tides rise and fall between a foot and two and a half feet and it is without question that, unlike twenty years ago, we seldom now see the mud on the bottom of the Bay at low water. 

click image to enlarge
Other water birds we see often are American Kingfishers, Ospreys and Double Crested Cormorants, some of which are probably Anhingas (and I do know the difference but often forget to notice!). Their reported courting habits are curious. We haven't seen it happening here, Cormorants predominate. 

Yesterday afternoon we kayaked in the mangrove tunnels and ponds which are in the distance in the attached photo. It was exciting to see a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron and a Glossy Ibis. 

Stay safe. 

Nick Pocock

To see the latest newsletter and  list of sightings so far; please click here.

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and stay safe and good wildlife watching.

Keith Metcalf
MCV - Conservation Officer
Milford Conservation Volunteers

To read second Update 4please click here.

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