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Christmas Trip 2003

Part 7: Christmas Day

All photographs © 2003 Mary Beth Stowe

The next morning met Dave for breakfast, and afterwards I went for a walk on the beach and enjoyed more gulls, terns, and shorebirds, including a great Christmas present from the Lord: a 2nd-year Lesser Black-backed Gull! (I left a message with Bev Postmus, the local bird lady, on that one, plus the female Indigo Bunting, but looking at the Sibley’s, I guess they’re more or less expected down there now...)

           

A great Christmas gift from the Lord: a young Lesser Black-backed Gull from Europe!

   

(...and I thought I’d have the beach to myself on Christmas morning...☺)

            

Fish Crows scavenge as well, but not for shells!  What people use to call “partial albinism” is actually “leucism”, meaning having a lack of pigmentation.  The bird on the left is an example of that, while the center bird is just sprayed with guano...

              

Left:  Forster's Tern.  Center and right:  Can you pick out what’s odd about this Royal Tern compared to his companions?

             

Left and center:  It really throws people off to see pelicans roosting in trees!  Right:  1st-year Laughing Gull

 

Somebody was pretty creative!

Got back in time for Becky’s arrival (she was staying off-island in the Country Inn and Suites, which she reported was very nice), after which we all (minus Audrey) rented bikes and headed over to the Bailey Tract.  The most interesting thing on the trail was an alligator; a birder I ran into claimed she had a Gray Kingbird, but it was hanging out in the area I had a phoebe in the day before, so I had my doubts. The girls wanted to head on to the lighthouse, so I shooed them on while I followed at a slower pace. That was very pleasant, just to cruise long the bike path! I ran into Becky later and I paced her back to the hotel, after which I think we girls went to lunch at the only non-hotel restaurant that was open that day, a cute little Mediterranean place!

               

We head out to the Bailey Tract on the island’s network of bike trails.  At right:  Becky (holding my rented bike), Dave, and Laura at the entrance to the Bailey part of the refuge

         

What I hiked before, we bike today!  Along the trail we find a Red-bellied Woodpecker and an Alligator

             

L-R:  Becky, Audrey, me, and Laura

After that Dave wanted to do the wildlife drive, so while "mother and daughter" headed to the beach us "three kids" headed to the refuge, Becky riding alongside us on her bike again (which she enjoyed immensely)! Pretty much the same birds were around, but Dave got scope looks at ibis, spoonbill, Little Blues, and a nice adult night heron in the open. Later Becky found another adult snoozing in the mangroves close by, so I put the scope on ‘im, and she had a ball watching him open and close that red eye! The egret mob was still there (in yet a different pool, I think), so Dave got to see that as well as the White Pelican Club and several cooperative Anhingas.

             

Dave views a Yellow-crowned Night Heron through the scope while another youngster hides in the mangroves

       

A Semipalmated Plover (left) and tons of White Pelicans enjoy the mudflats

         

Becky spots another Yellow-crowned Night Heron snoozing in the mangroves (and a view through the scope really gets up close and personal)!

     

The egret mob is still at it...

     

The Snowies are starting to get fluffy and feisty!

              

Along with the Snowies, a Wood Stork quietly feeds among the fray...

          

Dave and me on the wildlife drive

We beat Becky home, as she had to ride all the way back to the Visitor’s Center, so since we really didn’t have time to hike, we showered and then exchanged presents before having a fun dinner in the jungle-like restaurant there at the hotel (complete with floor fog; we sat underneath a mechanical monkey eating a banana...), after which we played another round of Cut-throat Euchre (that’s where I lost really bad) and said our good-byes; we agreed that this is an annual tradition we could all get used to! (And next year I’ll pack a dressier outfit...)

   

Christmas dinner: Dave, Audrey, Laura, and Becky at left, and Becky and me at right

Continue to Tamiami Trail

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