Feeding Frenzy

Well, it’s officially that time of year. No, not THAT time of year. I’m referring to migration time when millions of small fish move along our Gulf Coast. These massive schools of fingerlings attract a lot of attention from larger fish and pescatarian birds.

The larger fish in the area drew in our resident pod of dolphins. During my sunset walk this week I had the good fortune to watch them participate in a team roundup. I counted at least 8 dolphins working the fish into an ever smaller circle:

I also caught some of the pelican action from my favorite perch at John’s Pass:

Don’t worry, I assure you, there are plenty of fish to go around!

Cool Amenity!

A friend and I recently took a couple hours one evening to explore the new expansion of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. Manatee County has certainly invested some time and effort into this restoration project!

In addition to the construction of ramadas, well-defined walking paths and scenic bridges, they’ve done a tremendous job reintroducing native plants to the landscape. Though young and small now, they will definitely benefit wildlife in the years to come.

What I found most impressive was the kayak setup. Not only are there several launch spots with rinse stations but the park also offers kayak storage (for a monthly fee).

What a great idea – no more loading your kayak on your vehicle and lugging it around. Instead, just pull it out of the safe, weather-protected space and plop it on the water. It’s definitely a popular feature, of the 50 slots I only counted 5 that were not in use.

How Not to Fish

While I was crossing the bridge at Sawgrass Lake Park an Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) surfaced with a sizable catch. Skilled swimmers, Snakebirds stab their prey with their sharp, pointed bill.

This one had impaled a tasty morsel (perhaps overzealously) but had a dickens of a time trying to dislodge it. After a few minutes of head shaking and flipping, the fish finally flew free and was quickly swallowed by the bird.

Frustrating few minutes for the Anhinga but it was successful in the end!

Fishing Tutorial

I spent an hour wandering around Sawgrass Lake Park earlier this week. As before, my visit did not disappoint. While I was fascinated by it, this Tricolored Heron studiously ignored me. It obviously had bigger fish to fry (as it were).

The technique: stand perfectly still, snap up the tiny tidbit, shake off excess water and vegetation, rotate the fish with a quick flip, then swallow it whole. All of this takes place within a span of mere seconds, though the bird caught several fish while I was watching I felt fortunate to catch just a few photos of it in action!

A few bonus shots just because it was such a handsome bird!