A low key and often low cost adventure that is easily accessible to many people is what is referred to as 'birding'. While to some this sounds positively boring, there are many who find birdwatching not only enjoyable but on occasion even thrilling. There are many reasons to take up birding; it affords a chance to commune with nature, gives an opportunity for at the very least some low key exercise and can be a solitary or social effort. But you don't have to join any groups or make any lists just to enjoy these majestic ancestors of dinosaurs right here by the shore. Florida's Gulf Coast has abundant opportunities for 'birders' and just your average beach goer looking to spot some fine feathered friends aloft or along the water.
Great Blue Heron-
Supremely majestic is the Great Blue Heron which can at a distance seem blue-gray and has a large black stripe over the eye and in the air it has a two toned appearance. They are very large and have long, sinewy necks as well as their signature long legs. These can be seen in many places as they forage in saltwater and freshwater alike, from the coasts to farmlands.
This bird, a baby piper plover, is a small pale shore bird that can be found nesting and feeding along coastal shores. They are known for their small size and the distinctive bell like sound you can hear before you see them. They nest and breed on sandy beaches or alkali flats. They are considered endangered due the disturbance of people to their environment.
This medium sized heron is a long legged beauty often at it's prettiest during breeding season when it develops long, thin, wispy plumes along the neck, breast and back and a short shaggy crest on the back of the head. This bird is known for spectacular mating displays and behavior. They are extremely vocal, especially during agressive encounters. They are beautiful and graceful as they wander to forage for food.
The Ostercatcher lives up to its name by feeding frequently on bivalves and using its very colorful beak to get to the goodies. These are brightly colored birst that forage by walking in shallow water and seeking food by sight. It will get inside a mussel that is slightly open by jabbing its bill inside and removing the contents or take the more aggressive method of hammering on the shell to break it open.
Almost no bird conveys that you are near water than the pelican. This bird is completely recognizable as belonging to coastal waters. Often seen flying in unison, low over the water, they appear almost ungainly on the ground but glide smoothly on the currents of air, often right before plunging into the water in search of lunch. They have a long sinuous neck, oversized bill and big, dark body. They are fairly common today, being a success story of a species coming back from the brink of extinction.