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Observations & Images
26 November 2006
Pre-Nesting Wildlife Encounters

Illegal hunting persists at the Refuge as multiple gunshots fill the air from one of the Impoundments at dawn scaring away the birds. This sad turn of events was first noted on the last visit on 23 November. Here part of a larger flock of White Pelicans fly out of the Impoundment heading south out of the Refuge.
The White Pelicans were joined by a group of Roseate Spoonbills of which two can be seen here. The birds pouring en masse out of the Impoundment flew at an uncharacteristically frantic pace as they fled the Refuge and the gunfire.
Loud reports of gunfire had not even died away yet before this flock of birds rose out of the Impoundment. Like the previous birds, these birds flew at a fast pace toward the south.
Sometimes four or five individual American Kestrels have been viewed on recent visits to the Refuge this winter. Most have been alluringly distant views giving tantalizing glimpses at this wary bird of prey which, according to the literature, is North America's smallest falcon.
Unexpectedly, today was the day that close views were had of this distinctively colored bird.
Looking up at a passing Kestrel.
Northern populations are migratory though southern populations, especially those living in Florida, are considered permanent residents. Habitat loss has been noted as diminishing the number of Florida resident Kestrels.
After eating a large insect while perched on this branch, this Kestrel then proceeded to clean its bill by running both sides of its bill along the length of the branch. The Ospreys were observed doing this same behavior after eating during the last nesting season.
Luckily the Kestrel is a small bird given this intimidating look.
The average American Kestrel runs 8-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 20-25 inches.
A Monarch Butterfly at the edge of the Butterfly Garden along the Centennial Trail.
More action from the Butterfly Garden. A very energetic Palm Warbler was jumping all around the bushes before finally coming up grasping an insect in its bill.
An Osprey crosses Bird's Impoundment with a fish in its grasp.
A surprising development is that a Great Horned Owl was observed in the Osprey nest taken over by Great Horned Owls last nesting season starting on 15 February. The Owls nested for almost five weeks but the nesting attempt ultimately failed. It will be interesting to see if the Owls intend to reuse the nest again or if this Owl is just passing a blustery day in the relative comfort of the nest.
 
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OspreyWatch by Bob Montanaro
www.lunarcabin.com - - - - www.ospreywatch.org