Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ding Darling 12/11--Mottled Duck, Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill
I always say that when we go to Florida, we see all the waders in we see in NJ in the summer plus a couple of others. But the couple of others are spectacular. Reddish Egret is one of the attractions, but I had already seen one in NJ this year, the rarity that turned up at Island Beach. However, I did not get a chance to see a Reddish Egret this well:
Reddish Egret
The other spectacular bird is up top, the extraordinary Roseate Spoonbill. The viewing at Ding Darling of the waders and shorebirds is a pleasure; somehow the sun always seems to be at the right angle. The Wildlife Drive is about 4 miles long, a paved road with a couple of side trails, and depending on the tide, the number of White Ibis (of which my first sighting this year was on our stopover Ft. Lauderdale on the way to Trinidad) can number in the hundreds along with dozens of the more common egrets and herons. And then there are the American White Pelicans:
American White Pelican
Again, this is a bird I already "had" in NJ, but at a distance, a mere tick on the list. Here were well over a hundred, sitting on sandbars, posing for the masses. Going to Ding is not so much bird watching as bird viewing. There isn't a lot of skill required; it is simply the luxuriant pleasure of seeing lots of beautiful birds.

There aren't a lot of ducks in Florida and the only one we really sought could be easily mistaken for a Mallard in eclipse or a Black Duck, to which the Mottled Duck is closely related (and some would argue, no different at this point in their gene pool history) but until the AOU declares a species called "Duck" this is a new one for the year.
Mottled Duck
A few other pleasure along the 4 mile drive:
White Ibis
Photo: Shari Zirlin
Anhinga (saw one in Trinidad)
Roseate Spoonbill again
Because of the dearth of ducks and passerines, we only had 30 species with our two passes through the refuge, but again, Ding isn't about ticking them off the list (I'm almost biting my tongue as I write this) but about the sheer delight of seeing great birds in great light in great company.
30 species
Mottled Duck  10
Pied-billed Grebe  21
Double-crested Cormorant  35
Anhinga  5
American White Pelican  60
Brown Pelican  15
Great Egret  7
Snowy Egret  1
Little Blue Heron  15
Tricolored Heron  4
Reddish Egret  4
Green Heron  2
White Ibis  125
Roseate Spoonbill  2
Turkey Vulture  12
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1
Black-bellied Plover  6
Semipalmated Plover  10
Killdeer  5
Ruddy Turnstone  20
Dunlin  35
Least Sandpiper  15
Short-billed Dowitcher  20
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Willet  100
Laughing Gull  4
Ring-billed Gull  2
Fish Crow  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1

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