I love American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus). They have a beautiful orange bill and orange eyes on a black and white body. They have a distinctive call that I have been hearing over the marsh behind our house over the last several weeks. I figured they must be hanging out on the oyster rakes which cannot be seen from our house. It required me to get out in the kayak. Because the current, wind, and tides along the intracoastal waterway (ICW) behind our house can make it challenging to kayak, I had to make sure I waited for a safe launch. The tides are strong along the ICW and I was going to have to go against it either on the way out or back. I prefer to go against the tide on the way out so I can let it bring me back in on the return. I can deceive myself if I go with the tide on the way out and not realize how much work it will take to come back.
I launched the kayak at the Nocatee Paddle Launch about a mile and a half north of our house and hugged the shore as I headed south. I do not kayak on the ICW on the week-ends because there is too much human activity on the water. All boat wakes toss me around, but wakes from larger boats that are driving fast can be dangerous.
As I neared the marsh, I could hear the oystercatchers before I saw my first one actively feeding on an oyster rake. An oyster rake is a place where oyster shells accumulate and there are often live oysters at the edges along with other food items for the shorebirds. At high tide, most of the oyster rakes behind our house are covered with water, so I knew the oystercatchers could not nest and raise chicks on them. There is an oyster rake further south that is more elevated and it is where the white pelicans hang out all winter. With the weather being calm, I paddled to the elevated oyster rake and could see from a distance that there were Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission signs posted at the top of the rake and I heard the oystercatchers calling. The signs were likely warning of active endangered nesting birds. I failed to bring my binoculars today (I always forget something) so I could not get a good look at the birds that were running around. I had to keep far enough away to not disturb the birds. I could see at least one bird running around near two adult oystercatchers and it did not have an orange bill. I did my best to focus on the birds while being tossed around regularly by boat wakes. It was not until I got home that I was able to see that there were two young, banded oystercatchers being raised on the oyster rake. That was a great gift of the day. After taking hundreds of pictures of oystercatchers, I let the tide do most of the work to bring me back.
Topaz, the blue jay I raised and released last year, continues to show up when I walk or ride my bike on our street. The bird flies to a nearby tree and makes a variety of noises. The last couple days it has been imitating a hawk for me. I got some video below.
Dart’s legs have been bothering him more than usual lately, so I started to massage them regularly. He has never been interested in me petting him or cuddling with him, but he appears to like getting his legs massaged.
Regis noticed a hawk hanging out where we have seen the cotton rats. The bird appears to be interested in what it is hearing because it keeps moving its heard around trying to hear better. We have not witnessed a successful hunt.
I always enjoy watching one of the squirrels sitting with its paws resting on its chest.