Back on the Bay

Our Longboat Key condo sits on the west edge of Sarasota Bay, offering views of the open water as well as mangrove islands that rise offshore.  On this early January morning, with the temperature pushing 70 degrees F, the bay was alive with birdlife.

Small flocks of brown and American white pelicans cruised above the surface, perusing the waters for schools of fish.  Ospreys also circled above the bay, their high-pitched cries echoing back to shore.  An anhinga sunned himself on the sea wall while double crested cormorants occupied posts that mark the boat channel.  Other sightings included white ibis, green herons, great and snowy egrets, laughing gulls, royal terns, great and little blue herons, belted kingfishers and a massive flock of red-breasted mergansers.  Though absent this morning, bald eagles, wood storks, reddish egrets, tri-colored herons, least terns, wintering loons and roseate spoonbills are common avian residents of the Bay's spectacular ecosystem.

Mammalian visitors and residents include Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins, manatees and those ubiquitous raccoons.  While the Gulf side of this barrier island attracts most of the human tourists, it is the Bay that appeals to most of the wildlife and thus, by extension, to naturalists such as myself.  More on the beaches tomorrow.