Crossing the Florida Peninsula

Following a lunch on the bank of the Indian River, near Melbourne, we drove west across the Florida peninsula, headed for our condo on Longboat Key.  Our route took us through the prairie lands south of Orlando, broken by flatwoods of pine, cabbage palm and live oak and by scattered lakes, creeks and wetlands.

Cattle egrets were abundant, feeding among the livestock or hunting insects in fallow fields.  Turkey and black vultures were also common, soaring above the prairies and feasting on roadside carrion.  I saw a couple dozen sandhill cranes, generally in pairs or small flocks, and a squadron of glossy ibis passed overhead.  Other sightings included great blue herons, great egrets, white ibis, American kestrels and a few crested caracaras.

As we crossed Sarasota Bay, ospreys, brown pelicans and double-crested cormorants dominated the scene; a lone magnificent frigatebird was also observed.  In the coming days, many more species will be encountered on this fabulous barrier island; hopefully, a few unexpected visitors will be spotted among the usual cast of characters.