Sunday, December 12, 2010

Suncoast Splendor

Good-bye Chicago! From our airplane seats we bid adieu to gray overcast skies, gangly barren trees, burdensome, bulky winter clothing and temperatures that evoke teeth chattering shivers. Our aircraft heads southward to lush tropical foliage, white powdery  beaches and sunshine filled days. Two hours later, we eagerly disembark the plane, greeted by balmy temperatures, rustling palm fronds, idle watercraft bobbing in the harbors and a blazing sun dipping slowly below the horizon.  Ahh ... we have arrived in paradise!

Luggage is collected, car rented and we journey off on a brief drive to our destination, beautiful Longboat Key, Florida. Though the last bit of daylight is waning, I can't help but notice the stunning silhouettes of elegant waders against the cool, reflective waters of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. I bubble over with excitement at the opportunity to view and photograph Florida's beautiful avian life over the next 12 days.

This is my first entry in a series of posts featuring the lovely birds of the suncoast.

A magnificent Osprey ruffles its feathers while perched atop the remnants of an old tree

A stunning Great Blue Heron shows off its impressive wings while aloft over the beautiful blue waters of Sarasota Bay

Fluffed and feisty, this Snowy Egret makes its way rapidly across the rocks

Two lovely White Ibises share a quiet moment at the water's edge in the late afternoon

A sunkissed Willet waits for the gentle waves of the gulf to recede

Also known as the snakebird, this Anhinga perches upon a branch drying its impressive wings

Often seen along mangrove edges, a Yellow-crowned Night-heron looks out over the bay

A slender Tricolored Heron wades in the pond seeking a tasty treat

A dainty Snowy Egret gingerly navigates the pond shallows

A tiny Sanderling chases the ebbing waves in search of mollusks, sand crabs and other crustaceans