there wasn't another human on the beach when we arrived. but there were plenty of nature's finest still out for breakfast. the first fellow i noticed as soon as my feet touched the white sand was this blue heron about 50 yards down the beach. so much for me sitting. i sprinted down to it and soon realized there was no need to hurry because he posed for me gladly. as a matter of fact, he never left his post. the snowy egret meandered into the photo op not to be left out i guess .
i have been seeing this shorebird all my life and never bothered with knowing its identity. since purchasing my first ever book on florida birds to assist me with this newly discovered fun i find myself a little obsessed with wanting to know. i can't for the life of me figure this one out. too many similarities with other birds or the description doesn't quite line up. would welcome some help from any veteran birding readers.
this guy with his long bill and long legs has me stumped as well. the legs aren't yellow (dowitchers) like some descriptions that match other characteristics. could it be a willet or red knot - i didn't see it fly to view the color of its wings in flight?
our intended destination was longboat key which is just over the bridge so we didn't stay too long at our first stop. it had begun to sprinkle rain but we were not to be deterred. thankfully it didn't last long at all but it seemed just enough for nature to call out to the plentiful pelicans, gulls and shorebirds that breakfast was ready and waiting.
royal terns hanging out with sandwich terns & laughing gulls
i was giddy by now. the water, the sand, the wind, the smell, the sea oats, the mangroves, the sounds of waves and birds. except for an occasional walker we had the entire beach to ourselves. we walked as far as the shoreline would let us. the tide was in and the mangroves jutted out to meet the waves which prevented us from getting around the bend to the bank beyond where i just knew i was missing out on something. :-)
since i can remember i've been intrigued by pelicans. something about their enormity as far as birds go and the way they soar and dive and float fascinates me.
we eventually made it back to our chairs so hubby could actually get to some reading. for me, it was hard to sit still but i was perfectly content taking pictures of every imaginable nook and cranny of the beach.
is this the same species of bird i snapped at coquina? i don't know- this one has a whiter face. hmmm?
around 10:00 we decided to venture back north on gulf blvd. to anna maria island where we were to look for a restaurant our neighbor had told us about. it was time to feed the humans and we were both hankering for a good southern breakfast.
i ended up turning around three times and going back over the bridge trying to park to get this snap. finally hubby dropped me off and i walked onto the bridge as he drove around since there were no parking signs everywhere. there was a dock extending beyond this landing and there were two dozen or more pelicans, gulls and even a couple of double-crested cormorants keeping watch.
rod and reel pier - and restaurant. for the record- charming and oodles of atmosphere with open porch seating looking over the water-obviously amazing views... not good food.
our last stop was our favorite fresh seafood market on cortez where we bought grouper fillets, shrimp and scallops. mmm-mmm delish for hubby's birthday dinner.
tomorrow i'll post a few more photos since i took over 500 - yes, i really did.