Ft. Myers Beach

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This was pelican morning at Ft. Myers Beach. Evidently there was a shoal of fish just off the beach and in excess of 50 pelicans had gathered and were diving for the fish.

You could learn a bit of their strategy by watching. They would float in the water, apparently watching for the fish. Then a couple of them would go airborne and dive. I watched the group migrate down the beach, evidently following the shoal. When they weren't finding any, a large number would rest on the beach.

They have their glide-slope set and landing gear down and are coming in for a landing.

With all flaps down, they make their final approach and land at the resting area.

I counted 25 pelicans at this one resting area and there was a similar number down the beach plus several floating off the beach.

Brenda poses in one of the grass-hut shelters behind one of the condos. From our Tropical Sands resort, we crossed the street and took a path to the back of this condo row and could then walk on the beach among the birds.

Brenda didn't rest there long - these were such wonderful beaches for walking and watching the birds.

In the inner tidal stream was a driftwood tangle which must have been good foraging, for there were eight ibis, a small white heron and a large white heron there. The gulls stayed out on the gulf edge of the beach, and there were lots of them there.

I was intrigued with the variety of the shore birds. This one has big eyes and a short bill, but there is another of very similar size and shape with small eyes and a long bill.

A man and a woman were on the beach with two drag nets that they were casting and dragging to shore. They may have been just collecting shells. They seemed to be enjoying it and I was appreciative because they had collected quite a menagerie of birds. They were tossing the things they didn't want to the birds.

These two herons are about the same size, but obviously different. The one on the left has a white breast and may be a tricolor heron. The one on the right has a red tint to the feathers on its neck, but appears to be what they call a blue heron.

This species of heron was new to me, and this was a great specimen.

Brenda got a picture of the old coot with the bird's resting sandbar behind and what I take to be Cape Coral in the distance. I usually try to stay on the other side of the camera.

At times most of the pelicans were on the sandbar resting. Then perhaps at some indication that the fish were within striking range, they would go out and float in the surf.

It appeared that most of the time they went airborne in pairs, and then either one or both would dive on the fish.
Many times I have marveled that pelicans flew so close to the ocean that it appeared their wingtips must be touching the surface. This is the first time I have been able to show that this one's wingtips are in fact about an inch from the water surface.

I found the pelican's landing sequence fascinating. He sets a glide slope and then puts on the brakes as he touches down. At touchdown it looks like he is directing the choir.
Another beautifully executed landing sequence. I had great fun watching them.
For some reason I found these wading birds very beautiful, simple and elegant. And I was curious about the difference in feeding between them and the similar ones with short bills. Although not evident from the pictures, these are about one and a half times larger than the sandpipers shown below.
The sandpipers are also delightful. Energetic and agile, they keep just out of reach of the waves in their active search for food.
I passed Brenda coming back from her beach walk about the time I got to this second rest area for the pelicans behind the row of condos. I always get way behind by being distracted by birds and such. Below you can see in the distance the place where we have to go to get onto the outer sand spit.
Brenda waves from the shore side of the tidal stream, having gotten far ahead of me on our return. She is walking by a couple of ibis, while I walk by a trio of ibis on the sea side. After four days here, the ibis are old friends. They see so many people here, they are tame as house pets.
The white heron is commonly seen, but never ceases to be elegant and beautiful. Wow! What a morning walk! Praise the Lord!

Awana boys overnight at Bent Tree

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