Red, Purple, and Brown (Birds) and a Green (Turtle)

January 12, 2014 at 7:59 am (Birds- Florida, Florida State Parks, Nature, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , , )

Skittering Sanderlings

Skittering Sanderlings

I made a second trip to the northeast Florida parks to see the snowy owl and other birds again this past Wednesday, this time with a friend.  Ms. Snowy was further north on the beach at Little Talbot Island State Park, and perched on the dunes, but her admiring groupies with long lenses were in attendance.  The wind was blowing hard and cold, but I had three shirt layers, an eared hat, thick gloves with the fingertips removed, and wind-breaking rain pants so I stayed comfy.

Red Knots

Red Knots

Marilyn and I actually started our bird hunt at Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, hoping to see the male harlequin duck from the fishing pier.  But no luck.  It was blowin’ a gale (or so it seemed) but we did see a bald eagle and brown pelicans.

Brown Pelican flyby

Brown Pelican flyby

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

A gray line of clouds hung just north, and though we could see blue sky, that gray line never budged.  A sliver of sunlight helped add color to this cool pelican.

Marilyn

Marilyn

Check out Marilyn’s blog for her images, too.

Red Knot with bands

Red Knot with bands

We went to Huguenot Memorial Park south of Little Talbot Island for more birds.  We didn’t see the ospreys at all, probably due to the high winds.  A flock of red knots was feeding at high tide there, and I didn’t notice this one had bands until I edited the images.  I went to a website to post my find, so the people who banded it can include the sighting in their records.

Pair of purple sandpipers

Pair of purple sandpipers

Well, we’ve had the BROWN pelicans and RED knots, so here are the PURPLE sandpipers.  Not purple, huh?  Supposedly they have a slight purple sheen in the right light.  At least the red knots have a robin-red breast in breeding plumage.

Purple sandpiper

Purple sandpiper

This little flock of purple sandpipers continually perched and hopped on one leg, presumably to keep the other leg warm in the blasting wind.

Purple Sandpiper hopping on one leg

Purple Sandpiper hopping on one leg

Purple sandpipers typically do not range further south than North Carolina in winter, and this species was a lifer for Marilyn.

Sanderling

Sanderling

Sanderlings are just too cute.

Bonaparte's gull juvenile

Bonaparte’s gull juvenile

A sole Bonaparte’s gull fished nearly out of camera range, along with a pair of horned grebes.  There was a sighting of a juvenile Iceland gull but we didn’t spot it, nor did we see the snow buntings that had been seen in the dunes off and on for a couple weeks.

Ring-billed gull

Ring-billed gull

Marilyn brought homemade split pea soup and heated it in her camping stove, which we ate in a sheltered picnic area away from the gale on the beach.  Mmmmm…..!  Then we split up and I tried to find the harlequin duck again, but before I got too far I spotted a cold-stunned juvenile green sea turtle.

Green sea turtle needs help

Green sea turtle needs help

I rushed down from the pier to see if it was still alive, which it was.  Except for breeding females, sea turtles never beach unless they are sick or injured.  As a volunteer for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia, I knew they could help.  I had to first get permission from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist to transport it there, since that agency is responsible for this endangered species in Florida.  I only needed to go about 25 miles out of my way back home, but I had to drive with my windows down for 90 minutes so it wouldn’t go into shock with a sudden temperature rise.

Once there the veterinary crew went to work – measurements (carapace just under 10 inches), blood draw (low glucose), checking for a PIT – Passive Integrated Transponder –  tag (none), X-rays (gas and a slight gash), and – unfortunately – a small fibropapilloma on the plastron (bottom shell) which wasn’t visible due to the sand covering it.  When the state park ranger and I checked for FP we missed that.  Frankly, I didn’t know it grew on the shell – only on the soft tissues, and I expected it to be more pronounced like on the photo we show during orientation for the nighttime turtle walks in summer.  FP is a highly contagious (among sea turtles) disease, likely from a herpes virus.  It meant extra precautions to not spread it to the other sea turtle patients, too.

The barnacle was scraped off its carapace

The barnacle was scraped off its carapace

After a glucose injection and other tests and treatments, s/he was put into a kiddie swimming pool with cold water a few degrees above its 55 degree body temperature, and the air conditioner was turned down.  Over the next weeks the temp would be raised about 3 degrees a day until it reached 78 to 80 degrees  – the optimal body temperature.  I will find out soon about her prognosis.   I kept thinking during the dedicated staff’s remarkable effort to save her that I should have my camera.  It wasn’t until they were almost done that I remembered I could use my iPhone!  (Duh.)

In the kiddie pool

In the kiddie pool

The name of these small sea turtles is from the color of their organs, stained by the chlorophyll of the seaweed and vegetation they eat.  I can verify that the blood is NOT green, thus they cannot be nicknamed Vulcan Turtles.  Sadly.

Oh, maybe we can add another color to this story – the YELLOW-rumped warbler, fondly known as Butterbutt.  That trait isn’t visible on this photo, but a yellow streak on the side of the breast will do for today.

Yellow-rumped warbler (butterbutt)

Yellow-rumped warbler (butterbutt)

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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