Greeted by Storms & Kites

After some hiking in the Cumberland Plateau, we continued southward toward our condo on Longboat Key, Florida.  Approaching the Tampa area, we were greeted by a series of thunderstorms, characterized by intense lightning and torrential rain.  Weather reports indicated that an onshore flow was occurring on both sides of the Florida peninsula, sweeping in copious moisture to feed the late afternoon storms.

In bright sunshine, between two of the thunderstorms, a trio of swallow-tailed kites soared above the Interstate, feeding on insects that the rains had forced from the vegetation.  Permanent residents of South America, some of these beautiful raptors breed and summer in Florida, in adjacent coastal regions of the U.S. and in Central America.  They favor wooded marshlands, where insect prey is abundant; while these kites feed primarily on flying insects, they also glean insects and small lizards from the forest canopy and are known to consume fruits on occasion.

It was certainly appropriate to be greeted by two of Florida's more alluring traits: towering thunderstorms and exotic wetland birds.  Hopefully, we'll encounter plenty more over the coming week.