Birding Abroad

This is a short blog entry as I am currently dealing with jet lag and my brain is only functioning at a fraction of its normal capacity. Apologies for any typos, missing words, or general lack of sense owing to lack of sleep …

For the past two weeks I have been visiting family and friends in my hometown of Sebastian, Florida. This has entailed a great deal of sun, some productive work on Indian River by Air (along with a number of powered parachute flights), and, as hinted at in my last entry, a fair share of half written blog entries. Something else I squeezed into the margins of the visit was photographing local bird life.

Believe it or not, one of the best places for bird watching was at the Sebastian Airport. Despite the air space being occupied by airplanes, powered parachutes, and skydivers, birds flocked to this area–I am assuming due to the lack of predators and a fairly abundant food supply. This brought with it far different views than I usually get in my garden.

For example, I enjoyed watching mockingbirds try to land on the anemometer (used for measuring wind speed) and some managed to successfully ride it like an avian carousel. Sandhill cranes, standing 3 to 4 feet tall with wingspans over 5 feet wide, were regular visitors to the airport. Their loud, distinctive call is like nothing I’ve ever heard in the UK, and their lack of haste makes them great photographic subjects. If someone wanted to make a short documentary about wildlife surviving and thriving in man-made locations, I wholeheartedly recommend paying a visit to the airport.

Other birds helped me see the familiar in a new light. Growing up, pelicans were easy to ignore. They are fairly common birds in Florida–spend just a little time along the Indian River Lagoon or at the beach and you are almost guaranteed to see one or, more likely, a dozen. Yet when you take a moment to really watch them, they are a fascinating case study in how appearances can be deceiving. They look awkward and rather un-aerodynamic on land, yet are incredibly graceful when soaring.  Flocks glide effortlessly inches above the water, hardly breaking the surface … but plummet like a stone with a large splash when hunting.  Their long beak looks normal when at rest, but has a pouch can hold around 3 gallons of water when feeding.

I will be writing more about this trip over the coming weeks, but I hope you enjoy this view of some of the feathered residents that also call Florida home.

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Bird on a Wire: A dove keeps an eye on the happenings at the Sebastian Airport.

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Redhead: A sandhill crane looks for food at the Sebastian Airport; they are omnivorous and eat plants, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

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Merry-Go-Round: A mockingbird catches a ride on an anemometer.

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Riverside Rest: Brown pelicans are the smallest of the eight species of pelican, but still have a 6 to 8-foot wingspan.

Off the Beaten Track Wiltshire

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MissElaineous Travel Blog: Escape, Explore, Discover, Enjoy