Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Squeaky Toy in the Tree

Pelicans are such a joy to watch! They are awkward looking in the water, but soar with such precision. They fly in formation, playing follow the leader, flapping in time and swooping up and down, seeing how close they can get to the water. Today, they just concentrated on fishing and stuffing their bellies, which were holding plenty, believe me! What's not to love about live Pterodactyls flying by!

What bird sounds like a child's squeaky bath toy? Give up? We finally decided that all that racket was coming from 10-12 Bluebirds in a large pine tree. Other noise makers included some bright yellow Magnolia Warblers, and a drabber warbler that looked like a Pine Warbler (and it was in a pine tree, right?) When a Kestrel suddenly appeared, the noise levels escalated, although Kestrels don't eat anything this big. When the Harrier soared by, all the little birds disappeared into the branches!

Three layers of clothes and it's still really cold here along the Gulf Coast, but the bright sunshine makes you feel better about it. Following the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail through Baldwin County, we started at a mariculture facility (like a fish farm), but most of the birds thought it was too cold to be out too. We did find one Spotted Sandpiper (another life bird), which bobbed its tail the whole time we saw it, thus matching the identification in the Stokes' Shorebird book.

Weeks Bay Estuary has a great observation platform at the end of a boardwalk through the southern forest and marsh. I love the labels on unfamiliar trees and ferns. We also found an unlabeled giant spider - at least 2 inches long - which I have been unable to identify so far. A Kestrel sped past, and caught a dragonfly on the wing as Dick watched. "Maybe that's why the big dragonflies don't land often - they don't want to be Kestrel krunchies!" He flew a couple victory laps, just to show off. An immature Bald Eagle landed in a nearby tree, while an Osprey perched across the bay. The raptors continue to be our favorites on this trip, but that's to be expected, right?

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