Archive for November 16th, 2012

Shore birds and sea birds abound!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

This week, we’ve had some exciting activity from several species of sea bird and shore birds at the Dry Tortugas. The magnificent frigatebird colony on Long Key is gearing up for breeding season, as many of the males can be seen flying overhead with their throat pouches inflated.

Male magnificent frigatebird flying over the Fort, displaying a not-fully-inflated throat pouch.

I’ve also managed to snap some shots of two winter-plumage Forster’s terns, seen on the south coal pilings, hidden among the numerous sandwich and royal terns. The Forster’s are much smaller than the smallest sandwich tern, and lack the black cap that the sandwich terns exhibit all year long.

One of the dainty Forster's tern in winter plumage; note the dark eye patch, dark bill, and dark red legs. Much smaller than the other terns at the Park.

Our trusty willet is back for yet another fall and winter season, and while it’s been seen on a daily basis, his constant companion last year, the whimbrel, has only been seen on occasion.

Winter willet, possibly the same bird from last year at the Tortugas.

In passing, there have been several stop-over flocks of winter-plumage black-bellied plovers, usually seen gathering on the south pier heli-pad.

Medium-sized flock of black-bellied plovers resting on the edge of the south helicopter pad. Their traditional black "bellies" have been replaced by their winter whites.

Only time will tell what the rest of the winter winds will bring in.

happy birding,

–Chelsea B.


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