Thursday, February 2, 2017

Birds and the Beach

I'm a tad bit late in posting some of my outings - so this particular writing is about late January shortly after a cold front - yes, even in Florida it can get a bit chilly.

I found these little capsules along the latest rack line and thought to myself that they were fish eggs....HA!....not so. It turns out that these berry like structures are gas filled mostly with oxygen - they are called "pneumatocysts". The Pneumatocysts add buoyancy to Sargassum which is a floating raft found offshore - this raft provides food and refuge for an array of critters such as fishes, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimps and others. Turns out too that if all of those little capsules were eliminated from the Sargassum raft - then it would slowly sink to the bottom ...... everything is connected one way or another.

Other than sea debris - a few shorebirds were found resting.

One of many crabs that were doomed with that cold front. for thoughts said the Lesser Black-backed Gull.

So many sea stars, sea urchins and

bi-valves such as these Stiff Pen Shells and Giant Cockles.

A comparison shot of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

A Ring-billed Gull easily identified by it's black ring on its bill.

More Sea Stars and

Stone Crab.

An Osprey scouting the area for fresh fish.

And more crabs

A freshly cleaned Ruddy Turnstone who found a piece of clean beach for itself to dry off. 

Soon the tides will rise and the beach will be cleaned once again - change happens on a daily basis and sometimes that's a good thing.


  1. Hi France! Are the sandpipers in the first two pictures sanderlings? Shore birds in winter plumage are such a challenge when one is uncertain of their size. We're doing a FWS Shorebird Survey tomorrow morning on the northern section of Siesta Beach in Sarasota. We did a "dry run" yesterday and the results were dismal. We got about a dozen Snowy Plovers (we are only allowed to count birds on the ground, and only shorebirds and seabirds, no waders). Two of the SNPLs were banded. A couple gulls pecking at dead fish from the lingering red tide......
    The highlight of the morning was the "Siesta Peregrine" stooping (unsuccessfully) on some unidentifiable small targets off the coast, then hightailing it back to his lookout spot atop a condo, flying right over our heads in the process! Cold, windy, overcast, no birds to speak of, depressing.

    1. Yes they are sanderlings, darling aren't they? Honestly I felt totally overwhelmed when I started to study shorebirds and it took me a while before it started to click. Shape and bill are usually pretty good clues for i.d. and are my first go to for proper i.d. Soon it will be Snowy Plover patrol on our Sanibel beaches, I look forward to that.