August 2, 2015
I have officially moved to Florida, nestling myself along the Florida Pandhandle in the “Emerald Coast” region. It’s true, the waters are a dazzling emerald green color, and the beaches are covered in sugar white sand that actually squeaks when I walk along the water.
Though the entirely new landscape is fascinating on its own, the new birding opportunities seem endless. Though I have seen many of the shorebird and wading bird species before, never have I had the opportunity to see them every day, and in such beautiful surroundings.
The beaches itself – when not thronged with people – are already playing host to wintering shorebird species, back from their breeding grounds. Sanderlings, Least Sandpipers, Willets, and Short-billed Dowitchers patrol the surf line for small insects or crustaceans to feed on. I’ve even seen a handful of Snowy Plovers, pictured below; a life bird for me!
Based in Florida, I can now travel to other areas within the state that previously were unreachable. Though I’ve only been living here a month, I’ve taken a trip to the east coast of Florida for a family reunion in New Smyrna Beach. There, against a rock jetty, I photographed a beautiful Snowy Egret, distinguishable from the similar Great Egret by its bright yellow feet. This individual was feeding along the stone, oblivious to the swimmers and anglers nearby.
While I did love living in North Carolina, living in a sub-tropical climate means so much to see and explore. Let the Emerald Coast birding begin!