Saturday, December 26, 2015

Courtney Campbell Causeway

It's the day after Christmas so time to head out in search of more birds in the Tampa Bay area. I figured I had not been down Courtney Campbell Causeway in years so why not check it out? Wow. Time has surely changed the causeway. Most of the beaches I remember are now rock walls and bike trails! Oh, well. Let's see what is out here in the wind today.

There are a couple of drives that take you off the main road and travel along the water's edge. A lot of the way the view is obscured by mangrove and other plants but there are some openings. One of the first birds I found was an American Oystercatcher up on a rock. One of my favorite birds on the Gulf Coast.

American Oystercatcher

Once the sunlight came through the clouds it was super bright and lit up a Yellow-crowned Night Heron as I rounded a bend. I couldn't believe how many of these herons were out here today.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

There were not a lot of birds on the bay side as the wind was really strong, coming in from the south. A Herring Gull was just standing in the water making weird calls over and over.

Herring Gull

A few Willet browsed the shore which was littered with too much trash.


Back on the other side a few Horned Grebes dove for food and flew along the boat wakes. Love those red eyes. I couldn't get a shot of the Common Loon I saw on both trips of this side.

Horned Grebe

I had to peek through the mangrove branches to get a final shot of another Yellow-crowned Night Heron before I headed back to the family.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Later in the afternoon my Dad and I stopped over at George C. McGough Nature Park to look for birds. There were only a few warblers around and, oddly, all but one nest box in the woods was full of honey bees! We were just about to get back into the car when I spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk in the distance. Of course, I had to see how close I could get. Pretty close, it turns out.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I took a bunch of shots and ended up with some different exposures. Not sure if I prefer the one above or below better. Whaddaya think?

Red-shouldered Hawk

Back home I stepped outside to start testing the new camera I got for Christmas. A Nikon CoolPix that I will be using primary at the bird banding site as the old Olympus is reaching the end of its days. I was coming around the corner of the house and was happy to see a sundog lighting up in the distance. Better still, I knew I could get a Mourning Dove silhouette in the same frame. Sweet.

Mourning Dove

Even though I was disappointed that the causeway has much less beach now I did get some fun shots for the day. Where to go tomorrow before heading back to Orlando? Hmmm...

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