Pat Dews is a nationally acclaimed artist and a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the National Collage Society and the National Association of Women Artists. She is wildly popular as an instructor, hosting many workshops across the country. Robin attended one of her classes last spring, and we became fast friends. Joe is enjoying retirement, and a birder himself, so even he was able to tolerate my presence. We enjoyed their hospitality, sitting on their porch and listening to Barred Owls and Pileated Woodpeckers from the woods next to their home. At one point Robin went out to the car and found a Cattle Egret sitting on the roof! I'd only brought my digiscoping equipment, but had the opportunity to digiscope a very cooperative Northern Mockingbird from only 20' away in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express in Stuart.
Early Friday morning we drove back to Lakeland, taking the Florida Turnpike a good part of the way. On our way down to West Palm I had the opportunity to scan dozens of Osprey, Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures from the car. I even managed to see a Snail Kite hovering over a local reservoir near Port St. Lucie. During our 2.5 hour trip back to Lakeland I managed to see 6 Crested Caracaras, several Red-tailed Hawks, and a Loggerhead Shrike.
Great Egret. A video of the Little Blue Heron was cut short by a phone call reminding me that the Friday nite Fish Fry was about to start.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were emanating from the large pond to our left. We approached a large snag and found a half-dozen or so birds huddled 30' off the ground. I spent a few minutes digiscoping them while Robin headed back to the car to do some drawing. I rattled off a couple dozen images of the ducks as they perched, preened and slept. Common Gallinules were actively foraging in the canal that separated us from the large pond, and several birds stayed put long enough for a photo or two. Overhead a Red-bellied Woodpecker was excavating a cavity in one of the snags lining the bank.
I couldn't see it! Talk about blending in to one's surroundings.
Still, I managed to get many satisfying keepers, and even a short video. Click on this link for a short slideshow!
Anhinga with a freshly-speared catfish 'stuck' to its bill. For about 10 minutes I watched as the Anhinga tried to bash the catfish unconscious on the boom so that it could swallow it without injuring itself. Unfortunately for the bird, the fish became dislodged and plopped back into the water. The Anhinga dove in after it, but came up empty-beaked. Apparently the catfish, though wounded, managed to swim away. Only time will tell whether it survives...
we spotted 3 Sandhill Cranes in the shade of the trees as we arrived. Eating quickly, I grabbed the scope and tried to digiscope the two adults and one sub-adult crane from about 30' away.
approach me. Soon they were only 15' away, quietly foraging in the grass and probably wondering if I had any food for them. I returned to the car, only to have the three birds nonchalantly walk right past the driver side door only a few feet away. We said our greetings, and headed back to the house!
What an outing!