Readers’ wildlife photos

September 24, 2022 • 8:00 am

Bring out your dead!  photos, please! I can always use more

Today’s batch is from reader Bernie Grossman from Florida, whose captions and commentary are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them

Here are photos I took this past week while birding at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and at Bald Point State Park. The former is located along the Gulf coast about thirty miles south of Tallahassee, FL, while the the state park is located further west on the west side of the mouth of Ocklocknee Bay. Most visitors to the NWR drive the seven-mile road from the Visitors Center to the lighthouse on the shore. The pictures at the NWR were taken at Lighthouse Pond across the road from the lighthouse and at Tower Pond located a bit more inland. This pond is reached by following a one-mile path that circles it from a parking area.

Tower Pond and other pools along the road are managed seasonally for summer and winter resident shorebirds, ducks, and larger waders. Lighthouse Pond is a wonderful place to view a variety of ducks and larger waders in late fall and the winter.

An American Flamingo appeared at the NWR after Hurricane Michael. and it became a huge attraction the first winter it was present. It has moved around to feed in the various pools ever since, and it has shown no desire to leave. In the past week, it has been feeding in Lighthouse Pool providing easy sighting. The bird is nicknamed “Pinky”; its sex is unknown. [JAC: I suppose its gender is also a mystery.]

The easily accessible portion of Bald Point State Park is a narrow beach and wetlands that are good places for migrating birds in spring and fall.

American (Greater) Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber): “Pinky”  Lighthouse Pond, St. Marks NWR:’

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)  Lighthouse Pond, St. Marks NWR:

Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja)  Tower Pond, St. Marks NWR:

Roseate Spoonbills  (Platalea ajaja)  Tower Pond, St. Marks NWR:

Roseate Spoonbills  (Platalea ajaja)  Tower Pond, St. Marks NWR:

Roseate Spoonbill  (Platalea ajaja)  Tower Pond, St. Marks NWR:

Barred Owl (Strix varia) Tower Pond Trail, St. Marks NWR  The owl flushed as we walked toward it flying across the trail and perching closely nearby.

Rufous-sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthlamus)  Bald Point State Park.  This scruffy individual is probably a male in molt:

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Flamingos are such classic kitsch but when you stop taking them for granted and really look at them, wow, what absolutely, wonderfully bizarre birds! How lucky to see one in the wild, I’ve only seen them in zoos or as tacky yard ornaments. The spoonbills are nice, too, like dopey dinosaurs. Charming stuff.

  2. “… “Pinky”; its sex is unknown. [JAC: I suppose its gender is also a mystery.] ”

    Ba-dum – ching!

    …. but seriously, read Andrew Sullivan’s latest piece yesterday on that idea…. I’d say they’re probably a flamingo.

  3. The towhee is indeed a male, from the bill color it is a hatch year bird molting out of its juvenile plumage in late summer to early fall. Sadly, imo, the name Rufous-sided was discarded some years back, after avian systematists decided that the eastern and western forms of that species should be split into two species. So this bird is now known as the Eastern Towhee. And the form seen in the west is now the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus).

    Excellent photos! I visit St Mark’s and Bald Point several times a year, when I am down to visit my daughter in Tallahassee.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I started birding before all the lumping, splitting, and DNA analysis caused all the name and genus changes. Old habits are too ingrained. Thus Rufuous-sided. I still use “Myrtle” and “Dendroica.” Other good places near St.Marks are Mashes Sands and Bottoms Rd. Mashes Sands Rd. is right before the bridge over Ocklocknee Bay, while Bottoms is closer to Panacea. The latter has Great Florida Birding Trail markers. Good lunch spots in the area include Tropical Shrimp just before Mashes Sands Rd. and Hamenknockers BBQ in Medart, both on the main road.

  4. What wonderful photos! The spoonbills remind me of cotton candy. I love that pink.
    What a great shot of the Black Skimmer.
    Thank you for sharing all the photos.

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