Breakfast on the trail.

Everyone was eating breakfast along the trail.

Some of the birds were eating the seeds from the bitter melon (or balsom pear).

A few usuals along the trail.

A scruffy looking pine warbler trying to hide in the bushes.

A snail kite across the marsh. He had been diving down getting snails to eat but he was so far away I couldn’t get a clear shot of him moving.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

The kite was getting a snail.

A snail kite comes sailing over my head, right into the sun.

He takes a dive towards the water. Looks like he’s heading straight down.

He lands halfway into the water.

He comes up out of the water flapping his wings hard.

Success! He flies off with a snail.

Away he goes in the other direction but you can see he has a good grip on the snail. He flew off to the other side of the lake to enjoy his snack.  I saw this happening on my 2nd trip to Medard Park on a Sunday afternoon. I had been there for a while when he came by. The sun was about to go down behind the trees. They seem to be more active in the early morning so I’m going to try and head out there early again. I don’t know if these snail kites will stay here all winter. There’s plenty of apple snails for them to eat so maybe they will.

YourSundayBest  LorikArt

Found a needle in a haystack (a new bird)

My first sighting of a snail kite. He flew by me on the boardwalk and scooped up a snail. The pink stuff on the end of those sticks in the back are apple snail eggs. The lake was full of them. It looked like the lake had been sprinkled with Pepto Bismal.

Another snail kite flies by me really close. For once I was ready and able to get a decent shot.

He went past me while I was still shooting. Later when I cropped this up I noticed you could see his foot holding on to that snail. He took off across the lake to enjoy his snack.

Female snail kite sitting in some dead mangroves.

Another one flies by and gets a snail!

I had been hearing about some snail kites being seen at Medard park in east Hillsborough county. It’s very rare to have snail kites in this area. I have been meaning to get out there and finally had the chance at the end of September. I’m driving 45 minutes towards the center of the state thinking this is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for a rare bird in this huge park which includes a campground. I always feel like I don’t have that kind of luck. Well, I should have bought a lottery ticket on the way home. I drove around the park for a few minutes trying to decide where to start. I saw a boardwalk that crossed the lake and stopped there. Within minutes of walking on the boardwalk, a snail kite flies right over my head. Minutes later another one flies by. Then I realize a female is sitting in the mangroves close by the boardwalk. Since the apple snail population there has exploded I guess it has attracted these kites to the lake. I heard later that there were two nests across the lake and the juveniles have just fledged. Besides, the snail kites there where other cool birds there so I can’t wait to get back out there.

As I was leaving the park I saw this bird flying up high. I thought it might be a snail kite but when I got home and cropped it up I noticed it looked different. I went through all of the hawks, harriers and falcons in my Stokes Bird guide and couldn’t figure out what it was with that white stomach. If anyone had an idea I’d love to have an ID on it or at least somewhere to start.