Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Anastasia has long been one of my favorite parks since I began exploring them 1 1/2 years ago when I moved to Florida. Miles of pristine ocean beaches, dunes, salt marshes, wooded areas - it has all my favorite things. And of course lots of birds!
And many other species as well, as Audubon members and guests learned at our last meeting, when park ranger Drew Turner came to speak to us about threatened and endangered species like the beach mouse and the gopher tortoise, though his talk, and the following Q&A session, ranged over many other species as well like the raccoons, coyotes, sea turtles, nesting shorebirds.
But the beach is certainly a primary draw of the park. We had nine people show up for our last walk of the season, some who had been at Drew Turner's presentation, some fairly new to birding and just starting to develop an interest. We got there early enough to be ahead of the holiday crowds, and started out with a long walk along the beach.
Not only birds caught our eye, but other creatures like this crab scuttling across the sand as well, but among the bird sightings we saw a snowy egret fishing in the surf! Several least terns flew overhead, and we talked about the terns nesting, and the marked nesting areas in the dunes, and the importance of staying away from the areas so as not to disturb the nesting colonies.
Then we walked back over the long boardwalk across the dunes, and back to the wooded areas near the picnic grounds, and along the road past marsh and fields,
As far as sheer numbers go we all agreed that the brown pelican was the "bird of the day" - as we saw them by the dozens! Ungainly, yet graceful in flight, they few constantly along the water's edge in flocks of varying sizes.
By the time we finished up at noon the parking lot was fast filling up, and there was a bumper-to-bumper line of cars waiting to get into the park at the ranger station. But by that time we had already had a full morning. And here is a list of the species we saw on the walk. I hope to catch some of you again in the fall!
Mallard (Domestic type)
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Clapper Rail (multiples heard, but not seen)
Merlin (a rarity, but the group best guess based on field marks seen)