Gulf Shores Wildlife on a February Afternoon

February 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I gave myself a wildlife assignment today. I looked at my wildlife activity app on my phone and it showed the  activity level couldn't get any lower. I went anyway because it was the day after a storm front came through so I figured the birds in Gulf Shores may be active. My first stop was the bald eagle nest at the Gulf State Park. I didn't see the parents on the nest, but I did see what looked like a tiny eaglet head popping up. While watching the nest I noticed a brief shadow over the sun. I looked up and an osprey was flying towards the nest. I thought this might get interesting. Almost immediately one of the bald eagle parents flew over from a nearby tree and the two raptors sparred in the air. I was too far away to get a good shot. They moved so fast my camera couldn't keep up but I managed to get a shot, although it is heavily cropped. Osprey do not like eagles as they tend to steal their fish catches so it was interesting to watch these two raptors fight in the sky. I would say it was a draw even though the osprey is a smaller bird. It can outmanuever the eagle and eventually the two birds gave up and flew their separate ways.

Gulf Shores WildlifeGulf Shores WildlifeA bald eagle approaches an osprey that got too close to its nest in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016

After that I drove around the canals behind the Oyster House. There, one of the ponds was busy with pelicans and osprey fishing. A great blue heron saw an osprey perched in a pine tree eating its fish catch, hoping it would drop the fish.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Herona great blue heron in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016 Opsrey in Gulf ShoresOpsrey in Gulf ShoresAn osprey with its fish catch in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016

In one of the canals I noticed a juvenile brown pelican swimming along the edge looking for fish. I used my truck as a blind and followed along with it as it went after bait fish.

Juvenile Brown PelicanJuvenile Brown PelicanA juvenile brown pelican goes fishing in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016 Juvenile Brown PelicanJuvenile Brown PelicanA juvenile brown pelican goes fishing in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016 Juvenile Brown PelicanJuvenile Brown PelicanA juvenile brown pelican goes fishing in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016 Juvenile Brown PelicanJuvenile Brown PelicanA juvenile brown pelican goes fishing in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016

An adult brown pelican

Brown PelicanBrown PelicanAn adult brown pelican flies over Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016

I then drove to West Pass and saw a sanderling and willet looking for invertebrates buried in the sand.

SanderlingSanderlingA sanderling in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016 WilletWilletA willet in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, February 16,2016

I made my way back to Gulf Shores, hoping to get a glimpse of the eagles. On my way to the nest I noticed a loon was swimming in a bayou. As it paddled by it took care of an itch under its belly.

My second trip to the bald eagle nest didn't disappoint. Both parents were on the nest. Reports are two eaglets are in the nest. One of the parents flew to a nearby tree and I got a few good shots of it perched on top of the tree. I ended my trip at one of the osprey nest platforms in the Gulf State Park and there is already activity on the nest. Eagles will start to nest in the late Fall, and osprey start late winter.

 


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