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Thursday, November 15, 2012

White Pelican and Red Knot

[Southwest Florida, 1st week of November, 2012]

The arrival of November heralds the coming of wintering American White Pelicans at Ding Darling wildlife refuge. A huge bird (both in length and in wingspan), this is the only pelican in the world that grows a horn in the breeding season.

Entirely white except for the black trailing edge on the wings, the American White Pelican [seen here on November 4th at Ding Darling] is an unmistakeable bird and unlike the year-round Brown Pelican, it is not a plunge diver; preferring instead to corral fish in large flocks.

Not too far from Ding Darling at Little Estero Lagoon, a bulky sandpiper combs the beach. Chevrons on the breast and flanks and dull yellowish legs help identify this large sandpiper as a Red Knot. Seen at this same location earlier in April, gone now is the rufous blush from the knot's plumage; replaced instead by pale greys and whites. A transformation complete.

Other birds seen at Little Estero were (the always flashy) oystercatcher, snowy and wilson's plover, and western sandpiper.

Early winter is always prime shorebirding and other birds seen, this time at Ding Darling, were spotted and least sandpiper as well as dunlin.

All in all, many interesting birds were observed; but perhaps "the 747 of birds" the American White Pelican, and a chevron'ed sandpiper standout most vividly.

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