Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rare Bird Sighting?


Ohio Key, Florida (high 84, low 76) windy


We have been waiting, and waiting for the winds to die down so that we can really enjoy the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys.   We’ve begun to remember why we quit bringing our boat down here years ago.  Back in those days, we were working, so we’d schedule a vacation, haul the boat all the way from Tampa and the seas would be too choppy or the visibility bad, so we’d never get in any good diving. 

Things haven’t changed much weather wise it seems.  It’s still pretty breezy here in the Keys.  Lots of ocean and minimal land makes for lots of breeze. If you’re expecting flat calm seas, with no breezes, you’d better have time to wait it out.  Fortunately, now that we’re no longer on a fixed schedule, we have the time to wait for those perfect days.

After keeping the boat on the trailer the past few days, we decided we would launch the boat and find a cove somewhere out of the wind.   The wind wasn’t really that bad and the seas were not terrible (at least inshore) but we’ve come to a time in our lives that we want warm clear water and flat calm seas or we’re not going offshore.

So yesterday, we found a pretty cove just outside the Sunshine Key Marina.   Snuggled in right close to shore and we were blocked from the winds.  Looking into the water, I saw crystal clear green water. 


Sunshine Key Bridge

We found a nice place to anchor and spend a few hours.

boating off Sunshine Key

We hung out there for a few hours, ate our lunch, read our books and snoozed a little.  We could have done exactly the same thing at the beach from shore, but somehow it’s just not as much fun.

We wanted to go back towards “horseshoe”, which was where we helped rescue the injured bird, but it’s a few miles down and we didn’t want to deal with the spray blowing in from the seas and winds.

We decided to move over to the other side of the island (Sunshine Key) to where we discovered Three Hole Harry last year.  He was a nurse shark that we kept scaring off.

We were in very shallow water due to the low tide.  In fact the depth recorder read 1.8 feet.  Al got out and walked around and said he thinks he found one of Harry’s holes.


No sign of Harry though.

There were three large white birds right near the shore in the mangrove area.  When Al got closer in his walk he told me he thought one was the very rare White Heron.  They are only found in the Keys and southern parts of the Everglades.  It’s hard to tell them from the Great White Egret.  The main difference is the rare White Heron has light or yellow legs.

So what do you think?   Is this a White Heron?  I think it is.

Great White Heron

White Heron

In some pictures the legs looked a little darker, but certainly not black like the Great Egret.


There were two other birds there and they didn’t seem to want the Heron around.

I believe they were Great White Egrets, but I couldn’t be sure because they were wading and I never could see their legs.



We hung out there for a while, did a little reading/napping,  then motored back to the marina side of Sunshine Key.

This was a nice view of the waterfront campsites at Sunshine Key.  The trailers on the right are rentals owned by the resort.  For around $200 a night you can stay in one of those waterfront trailers.  These particular trailers were new this year, so they should be pretty nice.  I’m probably going to visit one and take some pictures in the hopes my friend from Arkansas will come visit us some time.

boating off Sunshine Key

We thought about staying in the water and watching sunset from the boat, but the wind picked up a bit and it didn’t look like it was going to be a very unusual sunset, so we pulled the anchor and headed back into the marina.

As we put the boat back on the trailer and pulled the trailer out of the water, I realized how nice it is to have a small boat.  It’s so easy to load and trailer.  The hull on this 17 footer is wonderful on open seas, yet it’s small enough to handle easily.  We’re really happy with our little boat and if the motor dies, we will probably re-power it.  You did good Al!


  1. That water is just so beautiful and colorful.

    How cool to see such a rare sighting. The pictures are wonderful.

    We will pass on the$200 night sights. No view is worth that much to us.

    1. Us either and we're only a short walk to those sights!

  2. After our boat ride, we got the wants for a boat pretty badly. If we find a place on the water, maybe Al can help us boat shop.

    1. He would be glad to! They are kind of nice, aren't they?

  3. I'm impressed with your bird pictures and knowledge. All I'd be able to tell is the bird isn't Woody Woodpecker... ;c)

    Boats are lots of fun, but I prefer our RV. That's because when it breaks down, at least I can walk for help! :cD

    1. You have a good point Paul. I do worry about being stranded offshore, but I know the Coast Guard will come to my rescue. :) BTW...whats' your cell number?

    2. Sent them by email, let me know if you don't get them. I got a funny message when I hit send.

  4. Jim is so excited because he gets to take the boat out today and go fishing. The weather hasn't been good here either and he does not go out if there's any wind. He knows I'd kill him if he did. Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the boat. I remember when we were in Florida and had the port-a-boat - it was windy a lot of the time so no fishing for Jim. Love your bird pictures but I have no idea what they are.

  5. Sounds delightful and we just love your header photo!

  6. From everything I read online and on the National Park Service, I think you found a great white heron!! Good catch. Didn't know there was such a bird.

  7. I agree that lunch on a boat is always better than any meal ashore! It is safe to say that I still miss not having a boat at the moment.

  8. Ditto love your header photo. I don't know my birds very well but I don't think that's a great egret. How Cool!! A white heron. Or Cool Beans as Judy would say!!

  9. Looks like a beautiful day - I too love the new header pic! Was hoping Judy would stop by to identify the bird...maybe she still will.

  10. Yup, Judy would know for sure.

  11. What fun to go along on your boat outing in the Keys. Great job identifying the Great White Heron. Heard of them before but didn't know the distinction between them and the Egrets.

  12. There sure is advantages of a smaller boat.
    Glad you are able to enjoy it, just being on the water is awesome!


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