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Observations & Images
2 December 2006
Pre-Nesting Wildlife Encounters

An eventful day at the Refuge as Alice Rowe and Refuge Ranger Joanna Taylor with me along as a fifth wheel led a group of Sebastian River Middle School students on a hike around Pete's Impoundment Trail. It was a fun day with Alice and I arriving early to see this River Otter running across Jungle Trail.

Checking the area around the Osprey nest we found two male Ospreys. This is the first time Ospreys have been seen in the immediate vicinity of the nest since the end of the last nesting season.

Having time to spare before the students arrived, Alice and I hiked partway down Bird's Impoundment where we came upon this rather fearless Tricolored Heron who did not mind us coming close for this detailed view.
Arriving at a spot where we could get a good view into the Impoundment, Alice and I sat down upon the damp ground where we shortly viewed a parade of birds coming to feed in the Impoundment like these two White Pelicans who were but the beginning of a sizable flock which eventually landed.
The White Pelicans come in for a landing.
Being a large bird, larger than the Brown Pelican which is large in its own right, this White Pelican caused a ruckus by landing atop a group of much smaller Pied-Billed Grebes which scramble to get out of the way. Note the Grebe escaping from underneath the Pelican.
Alice and I estimated at least 100 White Pelicans, if not more, landed in the Impoundment. Their presence attracted other birds like this Roseate Spoonbill at upper right and a Snowy Egret flying in low at lower left. We counted eleven Roseate Spoonbills flying in to join the party. Other birds which joined the Pelicans included Wood Storks, White Ibises, and Great Egrets.
This Snowy Egret landed near us to check out the situation before winging over to join the crowd.
A Wood Stork flying in to join the fun.
A Great Egret circled the Impoundment before landing amidst the Pelicans.
We came upon this Red-Shouldered Hawk after leaving the Impoundment to meet the tour. The Hawk was intently watching something out-of-sight below it. Before long the Hawk jumped into action but we lost sight of it after it swooped down toward the ground behind the tall grass and bushes.
Sadly we all too often overlook the beauty and charm of birds we consider common like this Northern Mockingbird.
Binoculars were passed out to the students to use on their hike when they arrived. This distant Red-Shouldered Hawk obliged by being the viewing subject during the short lesson on binocular use.
A rare treat was seeing this juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron during the hike.
Further on we came upon this Osprey just beginning to feed on a freshly caught fish.
A Tricolored Heron flew by.
A juvenile White Ibis did not seem to care that we were there.
This is a unique view which allows the usually hidden red belly of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker to be seen.
The Great Horned Owls appear to be nesting much earlier than they did last season. Last season they started in February at about the same time as the Ospreys but this season they are early starting at the end of November. The female has been on the nest at least a week now.
The male Great Horned Owl can be seen on a limb in a tree near the nest.
A Mockingbird near the Great Horned Owl nest put on quite a show by using this perch to locate insects flying by which it would then chase down and catch in mid-air before returning to the perch to start the process all over again.
Having sighted an insect the Mockingbird takes wing.
Here the Mockingbird is just moments away from catching an insect which can be seen directly ahead of the bird.
The catch is made with the insect being eaten while in flight.
The Mockingbird heads back down to the perch to wait for another unwary insect to fly by.
The fascinating performance of the Mockingbird almost made us miss the passage of this Magnificent Frigatebird on its way south.
 
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OspreyWatch by Bob Montanaro
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