Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Changing of the Birds

Beautiful Male Double-crested Cormorant 
Beautiful Male Double-crested Cormorant

Many have experienced the breathtaking beauty of the Cedar Keys' sunsets, but far less have enjoyed the captivating "changing of the birds" as the sun sets. This comparatively seldom-seen encounter, though, creates a memory for a lifetime. And, great news: one can catch this awe-inspiring occurrence during this time of the year!

So, what is this "changing of the birds"? Well, in the evening, as some folks relax along the shores, decks, and bridges of Cedar Key in order to enjoy the beautiful sunset, they do not know that hundreds of ibises, egrets, and herons are taking flight from Cedar Key's Piney Point to Seahorse Key's Gardner Point to turn in for the night. At the same time, a night heron here and there will return to Cedar Key from Seahorse Key so to start its nocturnal feeding. And, as lines of birds come in to Gardner Point, and speckles of night herons leave the island, Magnificent Frigratebirds either sit together in its trees or circle high above appearing to watch the evening event.

The skyway between Seahorse Key's Gardner Point, the closest point to Cedar Key, and Cedar Key, especially Piney Point, becomes a incredibly busy highway during the golden hour, while Seahorse Key echoes with a symphony of thousands of birds. And, the experience of this conjuncture sends chills up one's spine.

Of course, one could view an episode of this from certain points in Cedar Key, but the entire event is best captured from the water between the two Keys, closer to Seahorse Key's Gardner Point where the birds' chorus can be heard. One wonderfully relaxing, yet educational way to enjoy this experience is to travel via Captain Doug Maple's Tidewater Tours Sunset Tour, especially during high tide. During his tour, one can sit back on a pontoon boat while being guided by a very knowledgeable birder.

The Sunset Calls the Ibises Home
The Sunset Calls the Ibises Home
While on Captain Doug Maple's Tidewater Tours' Sunset Tour, we watched as hundreds of Ibises flew home to Seahorse Key for the night.
White Ibises
Eudocimus albus
Captain Doug Maple
Tidewater Tours
Sunset Tour
5/21/10
8:03:59 PM

The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild
The Ibises are called in by the setting sun.
Captain Doug Maple
Tidewater Tours
Sunset Tours
5/21/10
8:06:51 PM

The Call of the Wild
Captain Doug Maple
Tidewater Tours
Sunset Tours
5/21/10
8:06:58 PM

 Comin' At Ya!
Comin' At Ya!
We were blessed this night while on the Tidewater Water Tours' Sunset Tour with Captain Doug Maples. There were many playing dolphins, flocking birds, and colors in the sky.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Captain Doug Maple
Tidewater Tours
Sunset Tour
5/21/10
7:30:33 PM


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