Cedar Key 2010/11


Out the door at 6:40 a.m.. It’s 62 degrees and humid this morning. It’s actually foggy, I think, because I can’t see any stars or Venus. There is a slight breeze, though, so it doesn’t feel sticky. It was so dark I just proceeded straight to the Cedar Cove Rocks at the far end of the Park Beach so I could make notes by the light the Island Room leaves on all night. As of 7:00 a.m., I’ve seen no birds and heard no bird sounds. The only sound I can hear right now is the quiet ripple of the water against the beach.

I heard the first bird sound of the morning at 7:05 a.m. It was a MOCKINGBIRD that was somewhere near the Cedar Cove parking lot. I was on my way over to the Cedar Cove Town Houses when I heard it. Got to the Town Houses at 7:10 a.m. It’s just three minutes before CIVIL TWILIGHT but it doesn’t feel like it. I guess the fog is thick enough to block both color and light, but the birds seem to be on cue. The GULLS have tuned in, and I think I’m hearing some gabbling from BLACK SKIMMERS somewhere not far from here. A noisy boat just came out of the Back Bayou. At 7:15 a.m. a GREAT BLUE HERON either just arrived or just became visible in the water just off the Old Fenimore Mill Beach. As I look over that way, I feel the wind in my face, which means it’s blowing from the N/NE. I can also feel the moisture of the fog on my face, which feels good. I think the WOOD STORK flew by at 7:20 a.m., but I couldn’t get my binoculars focused on it fast enough to be sure.

About then Steve D arrived, and I didn’t do anymore writing because we were talking about what we were seeing plus a lot of other subjects. We did see a LITTLE BLUE HERON, A TRICOLORED HERON, and a GREAT EGRET near the Dock Street Bridge.

At 6:35 a.m., my three thermometers read 62, 63, and 64 degrees. Out the door at 6:40 a.m. Stars still visible, but I couldn’t see Orion. Got to the Park Beach at 6:50 and to the Cedar Cove Rocks/Island Room at 6:55 a.m. I saw the WOOD STORK in the dim morning light. It was feeding near the canal again. When I put my head down to write about it, it disappeared. I didn’t see or hear it leave, so maybe it just wandered out of sight? No breeze this morning. It’s still and quiet.

Got to the Cedar Cove Townhouses at 7:10 a.m. I heard a few songbirds on my way over, and the BLACK SKIMMERS have just started flying up off their sand spit over to my left. It’s still dark red along the eastern horizon, and VENUS owns the clear blue morning sky. I think I might have seen the WOOD STORK flying toward the Back Bayou, but I couldn’t get my binoculars focused on it before it disappeared. Nothing but GULLS and PELICANS here now.

Got to the kayak rental stand at the far end of the Park Beach at 7:30 a.m. When I looked back toward Cedar Cove from here I saw the silhouettes of at least 5, maybe 6 HERONS, probably GREAT BLUES. I also saw a big flock of BLACK SKIMMERS in action. At 7:35 a.m., I was starting toward the Dock Street Bridge, when the ORANGE BLOSSOMS on the tree that grows near the golf cart rental lot stopped me in my tracks again. I wonder if the tree just started blooming, or if I somehow managed to miss the aroma until now? Lots of boats launching at this hour. Is there some kind of event this weekend, or is it just the Saturday morning rush?

Got to the Dock Street Bridge at 7:40 a.m. A LITTLE BLUE HERON is feeding on the edge of this end of the Marina this morning, and a SNOWY EGRET just flew in and landed across from it. The LITTLE BLUE is closer to Dock Street, the SNOWY to 1st Street. Both of them are right below me as I stand on the bridge. Just heard a KINGFISHER, so my usual birds are here except for the Island Place SANDPIPER. Maybe all the boats coming out of the Marina scared it off?

LATER: SUNSET was scheduled for 7:43 p.m. this evening, MOONRISE FOR 7:58. We got to the Fishing Pier a minute or so too late and missed the SUNSET, which didn’t leave much color behind it, but we watched the MOON come up about 15 minutes later. It was well right of where it rose last month.

At 6:25 a.m. my thermometers read 65 and 66 degrees. I’m out the door at 6:30 a.m. I can see the stars this morning, but I can’t quite make out Orion. Went straight to Cook’s Cafe for my morning coffee, and Brian said the MOON was big and orange in the morning sky when he was driving into town. I can’t see it from my end of town right now. Maybe I’ll see it when it’s setting later.

Got to the Cedar Cove Rocks at 7:00 a.m. Stars are gone, and VENUS now owns the morning sky. Just as I was wondering whether I’d see the WOOD STORK again this morning, it appeared near the mouth of the Cedar Cove outlet, feeding in the shallow water. LOW TIDE is still to come (at 7:55 a.m.), but the water is already out a ways and shallow along the Park Beach. Now the STORK is moving over toward Cedar Cove.

At 7:10 a.m., I’m at the Cedar Cove Town Houses. The WOOD STORK is still over by the outlet. I think the feeding must be good there. The horizon has begun to color up. CIVIL TWILIGHT arrives at 7:15 a.m. A fishing boat is just starting out from the outer boat launch. The birds have begun making sounds, and a BROWN PELICAN just flew by. The STORK is still over by the outlet.

Got to the Dock Street Bridge at 7:30 a.m. Saw a LITTLE BLUE HERON in the Marina, a GREAT EGRET feeding in front of the Island Place, and a KINGFISHER perched on the #3 green channel marker. I think a SWALLOW just flew by, but I’m not sure. Just saw one with swallowtails — a BARN SWALLOW. Noticed TWO SPOTTED SANDPIPERS on the Island Place beach.

On my way home at 8:20 a.m. I saw a CATBIRD near one of the docks along Third Street.

It’s about 63  degrees as I head out the door at 6:30 a.m. I can see ORION, so the sky is clear and still dark enough to showcase the stars. On my way over to the Park Beach I smelled something incredibly sweet near the golf cart rental lot. When I got to the beach, it was too dark to see anything so I just kept moving. When I got to the Cedar Cove Rocks at 6:50 a.m., most of the stars were fading, and VENUS owned what was left of the dark sky. It’s very quiet this morning: no breeze, no waves, and no bird sounds yet. A little bit of color has begun to show along the horizon, but CIVIL TWILIGHT doesn’t arrive until 7:16 a.m., three minutes after LOW TIDE at 7:13 a.m.

It’s now 7:10 a.m., and I’m at the Cedar Cove Town Houses. It’s quiet here too, but the bird sounds are just beginning, and I just spotted a WOOD STORK, or should I say the WOOD STORK? When I first noticed it, it was feeding way out at the edge of the low tide beach. Then it stopped feeding and walked purposefully for quite a distance. Then it flew off toward the Back Bayou, and now I can’t seen it anymore. But while I was looking for it, I saw a GREAT BLUE HERON, and then I watched a huge flock of PELICANS fly out of the Back Bayou and land on a sand bar right in front of me. It’s still too dark for me to see whether they’re BROWN or WHITE. Even though it’s past CIVIL TWILIGHT at this point, my eyes can’t see color clearly and can’t identify them for sure even though they’re not too far away.

A noisy air boat just roared through and drove the whole flock of PELICANS off their sand bar. I’m thinking there must have been over a hundred of them. They made a lot of noise when they took flight. They landed quite a distance away, but there’s enough light now that I’m thinking they’re WHITE. The fact that they flew in from the Back Bayou and that there’s so many of them also suggests that they’re WHITE. As of 7:25 a.m., I’m ready to declare them WHITE PELICANS.

On my way over to the Dock Street Bridge, I walked back by the wonderful scent that had caught my attention earlier when it was too dark to see where it was coming from. This time I could see the flowers on the ORANGE TREE that grows on the edge of the golf cart rental lot. The flowers were in full bloom, and the tree was also full of ripe oranges.

Got to the Dock Street Bridge at 7:35 and saw a TRICOLORED HERON in the Cedar Key Marina. Also heard a KINGFISHER over by the Island Place, and saw several big flocks of BLACK SKIMMERS flying over the Fishing Pier. They seem to be flying East, toward the RISING SUN.  And here it comes, right on schedule at 7:40 a.m.

It was about 68 degrees when I left the condo at 6:30 a.m. I can’t see any stars in the dark sky, so I’m guessing it’s cloudy. Got to the Park Beach at about 6:45 a.m. and was wondering whether I might see the WOOD STORK again. I tried to scan the far end of the beach with my binoculars, but it was too dark to see anything. Then I noticed some movement. I kept looking and finally made out the STORK! I watched it walk the full length of the beach to the kayak landing, turn around, and begin walking back. It was very steady and rhythmic in its walking and feeding. It looked almost as if it was pulling itself along with its big bill. All its movements were coordinated: its two long legs were walking, and its big bill was sweeping and feeding. When it got to the Cedar Cove canal, it paused, and I thought it was going to turn around and head back, but it kept on going. I raced around to the Cedar Cove town houses and found it still moving right along at 7:00 a.m.

It’s now 7:15 a.m. While I was writing, I lost track of the STORK’S progress, but when I scanned the beach from here the full length of the Old Fenimore Mill condo buildings, I thought I saw it, but when I looked more closely, I realized I had a GREAT BLUE HERON in my binoculars. I was disappointed, but I decided to scan the whole beach one last time with just my eyes, and there it was, feeding in the water where the beach begins to curve around into the Back Bayou. Even at that distance I could tell that it was a STORK, not a heron, by the way it was moving. When I checked it with my binoculars, I could see the big, downward curving bill, and while I was watching, it turned around and headed back toward me.

At 7:30 a.m., the light is improving. CIVIL TWILIGHT passed at 7:17 a.m, and the SUN will rise at 7:41 a.m.. Three kayaks and a fishing boat are out on the Gulf. There’s also a sailboat anchored in front of the Park Beach. The BLACK SKIMMERS are now visible and active, and other birds are flying by. The STORK turned around again and is now headed toward the Back Bayou and is about to disappear around that distant curve.

There’s lots of suffused pink along the cloudy horizon this morning, and there’s a gentle breeze blowing from the South/Southwest. In the time it took me to describe the sky and the breeze, the STORK turned around yet again and is now headed back toward me. It seems to be doing laps along the far end of this long beach.

I wonder if the STORK’S performances today and yesterday are related to the LOW TIDE? I first spotted it this morning at 6:45 a.m., which was 20 minutes after the 6:25 LOW TIDE. Yesterday Nita and I first saw it at about 6:45 a.m., a little less than an hour after the 5:47 LOW TIDE. So maybe the hour or so after LOW TIDE is a good time to look for WOOD STORKS?

As if this morning’s STORK and SUNRISE weren’t enough, one of Penny’s “pelations of pelicans” just showed up. I’d say at least 40 WHITE PELICANS just settled on the sand bar near the entrance to the Back Bayou. The SUN’S up and it’s time to move on, but I hate to leave this amazing spot. The STORK has now disappeared, though, so maybe its given me permission to leave? On my way out at 7:50 a.m., I saw a TRICOLORED HERON in the Cedar Cove Marina .

In the big parking the runs the length of the Cedar Key Marina, I encountered a couple who were camping in a 1987 Westfalia. They told me about some outfits that offer services to Westfalia owners: GoWesty.com in California, which sells parts, and TheSamba.com, which advertises Westfalias that are for sale. Another one called GTRV.com in Austin, Texas will customize any make of van to be just like a Westfalia.

At 8:05 a.m. I saw TWO TRICOLORED HERONS and heard a KINGFISHER in the Cedar Cove Marina. Altogether it’s been a great morning.

It’s about 63 degrees at 6:20 a.m. Met Nita at 6:30 to go birding together this morning. Our first bird of the dark morning was a WOOD STORK standing near the Cedar Cove Canal. I’ve never seen one there before. We watched it for quite a while as it fed in the shallow water near the end of the Park Beach. We were both impressed by how big it was, and how purposeful it seemed in its systematic sweeping of the water with its big bill. I have no idea what WOOD STORKS eat, but this one was finding what it wanted right here.

When we saw the eastern sky coloring up, we decided to hike around to the Cedar Cove Town Houses to watch the SUNRISE at 7:42 a.m.. We got there about ten minutes early and enjoyed watching the BLACK SKIMMERS flying around in front of us. There must have been hundreds of them, and more kept appearing from the distance. We saw a few CORMORANTS and PELICANS fly by, and we could see the silhouette of what we thought might be a GREAT BLUE HERON way off to the left. The red sky just kept getting brighter and brighter behind the clouds at the horizon, and all of a sudden the SUN appeared. The whole scene was pretty spectacular.

When we walked by the Cedar Cove Marina on our way out, we saw a GREAT EGRET in the water, so we stopped to watch it feed. We immediately noticed how different it was from the WOOD STORK in both size and manner of feeding. Then a SNOWY EGRET flew in, and we noticed how small it looked in close quarters with the GREAT EGRET. Then just to make the scene complete, the WOOD STORK wandered up from the canal and began feeding in the Marina too. We watched all three of them and got a clear sense of how different they are from each other, and how easy they are to tell apart when they’re so close. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to help Nita learn her big white birds — or to learn a bit more myself.

We hiked down to the Faraway Beaches just to check for shorebirds, but nothing was there so we headed home. It was a lovely morning, and I’m looking forward to more birding with Nita.

It’s been a topsy turvy day. I didn’t take a walk this morning because I wanted to spend the time with Bob because he didn’t sleep well last night. At 3:20 p.m. I saw several BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS hanging around on the wires near the Deams’ condo. At 4:50 p.m. I saw lots of BLACK SKIMMERS congregating on the roof tops of the Cedar Cove buildings. I wonder why they hang out there? I’ll have to pay closer attention to what time of day I see them. Is it a late afternoon thing, or do they spend time there earlier too?

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