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ospreys, ospreys everywhere, and not a drop to drink

2012-04-25 - 4:39 p.m.

pitcher plant
© 2012 by elaine radford

The tides are never gonna be right for this trip, and the winds aren't ideal, but today at least we had OK conditions for "big bird" watching. We decided to head out to the Gulf Shores area, and we followed quite a few stops on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. The most hilarious birds on the beach, hands down, are still the Great Blue Herons that gather to hustle the fishermen for tips in the form of fish that are almost, but not quite, too big to go down. One bold Heron had to put down his prize, barf up a smaller prize, and then he was able to manage to swallow the bigger fish. His crop was bulging, and his neck looked agonizing, but he considered the matter further, and then somehow managed to swallow the small fish too.

Lots of Ospreys paired up along the way. Best in show goes to the pair where the adults actually did a modified display flight before the nest exchange. I thought they would actually clutch claws in flight, but they settled for a "fist bump." All this hot-dogging was, I'm sure, for the benefit of a nearby, less powerful couple that sat glaring and staring at their beautifully built nest.

Great picnic area, where we had a slow-to-get-started Osprey couple. One of them was kiting casually over their pond, but the other sat on their nest platform, which held only one sad stick, looking a bit daunted at the size of the job in front of him.

Not much in the way of passerines but we did have a close encounter with a male Indigo Bunting.

When the birding slowed to a standstill in the heat of the afternoon, we found the feisty pitcher plants of the pitcher plant bog. Dozens of them, hundreds probably, had gathered around with open mouths to catch their hapless victims. They were also in bloom, and their flowers are such a mismatch to their pitchers that I'd forgotten that they were the same plant.

What else? A pair of dueting Laughing Gulls. A Killdeer that pretended to be hurt to draw our attention away from wherever she was trying to draw it away. One Eastern Kingbird. One Loggerhead Shrike.

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