Monday, October 10, 2011

A Morning of Birding on the Gulf Coast

This past weekend, my wife and I along with my in-laws drove down to Panama City Beach for a family wedding. Stephanie and I were able to sneak away for a morning and go birding at St. Andrew's State Park. we arrived at 7:30am and found that the park does not open until 8 which I found funny since they have a campground and people are in the park all night.

We decided to find a place to park with public beach access so that we could try to photograph some shorebirds and gulls. There wasn't much moving on the beach other than Sanderlings and Laughing Gulls. Luckily, one of the Sanderlings was very friendly and let me get some great shots!
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling
After taking some pictures, we headed back to the park. The birding was very slow but the park was beautiful and contained habitats that I rarely get to bird in. The first interesting bird for me was a small flock of Brown-headed Nuthatches. I spend very little time in the southeastern part of the United States so I hardly ever get to see this species.

We hiked around Alligator Pond hoping to get some herons and egrets but there were very few to be found. We did find one alligator thought!

American Alligator
Butterflies are what really kept the morning interesting. They were everywhere! I did not mange many photos as it was very windy but the sheer number of individuals was amazing. This is one of the only decent photos that I got, a Gulf Fritillary.

Gull Fritillary
Overall, it was a really cool park that I will definitely visit again if I am in the Panama City Beach area!

-Rob

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