Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cedar Key C-Birds ... Dang, You Should Have Been There

I was going to put this video down at the bottom of the post, but you would have just scrolled down quick and watched it first anyway, right?

(You probably aren't even reading THIS are you?)

Yes, you would, ... be honest.
In your amazement that FC had actually managed to upload video on dialup, you would have made a beeline for that movie, so I stuck it up here at the top of the tale even though it happened last in the sequence of events.

So, here is what happens when a school of baitfish are being attacked from below by predatory fish and from above by predatory birds.

Not exactly Blue Planet quality, but it was too dramatic for just still pics.

Yesterday, I took Emma, Corinne, and Laura (the 3 dormies) island hopping around Cedar Key.
I have more pics of the girl's day on the water for a later post.
Today's post is just about the extreme fishiness of yesterday and the birds who were capitalizing on the abundance.

Emma can sure pick a good boat day. The air was not still, but not blowing enough to really chop up the water. The girls had stretched out on the bow of Summer School for some sunning (after 60SPF) and I didn't have the heart to tell them that SS's little engine was not going to get us up on a plane with a bowfull of girls, so I just puttputted along over the shallow flats while they talked girly talk and dozed.

As we rounded the seaward side of Seahorse Key, I could see the scene below, so I headed over that way to see what the birds were after.

There were huge schools of small fish moving across the flats and the seabirds were having a field day.
Bigger fish were striking too. It was incredibly fishy.

Of course, I didn't take a single fishing rod as this was just supposed to be a beachcombing/swimming/sunning voyage.


I shot waaaaay more pelican pics than these and I'll share some shorebird shots later from this trip . The pelicans (AKA pterodyactyls Version 2.0) were really busy.

They would get airborne just high and just long enough to spot fish.
Then, wings folded, they would plummet with a huge splash.

It seemed, judging by the gulpy movements they were doing as they surfaced, that they were having great luck.

This is really important as the surrounding keys, especially Seahorse Key, are seabird rookeries and good nutrition is pretty important for growing kids.

I've said it before on previous Cedar Key posts, but you can thank Teddy Roosevelt for these birds. He's the one who set aside the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge long before any of us were born. I never forget that when I take my children out to see the islands full of seabird rookeries and spiraling columns of pelicans, ibis, and frigate birds, it's possible because of Teddy and other forward looking conservationists.

The fact that Teddy did it when Florida was still mostly wilderness just makes his foresight all the more amazing. He couldn't imagine the overdevelopment of Florida that has occurred since then, but he would recognize the keys of Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. They look the same every year ... wild, green, and full of nesting seabirds.

Teddy, ... thanks man.


Dani said...

Yes indeed, Teddy did good. Our wild Florida is beauty. Your bird shots are just wonderful FC. And the video as well. Hope you have a nice weekend.

Joe said...


freste2715 said...

Fresh fish finding fiasco founds fabulous feast from Florida? Fine!
Fancy fotos, friend. Fickle, freakish flyers! Fantastic!

robin andrea said...

Great video. Love the pelicans too. One of the cool things about where we're living now is the National Wildlife Refuge that's just five miles away. The literature says in November we'll see the arrival of 100,000 migrators. Those national wildlife refuges were such a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I was right about wishing I was going, too. It's been way to long since I've been on the water. First place you'll find me when I get the chance. Another segment of "FC's Awesome Adventures." What a life?
Bro J

Miz S said...

TR had a long-term perspective that is sorely lacking in most of us.

Sounds like a really fun day. The video was awesome, and yes it definitely gave a better idea of the frenetic activity than the stills (beautiful though they are) could convey.

threecollie said...

Amazing as always. Thanks for being patient enough to upload the video...stills were spectacular too. We get gulls going after schools of herring on the river in winter but NOTHING like that!
My grandpa was named after TR, Theodore Roosevelt Montgomery...he was born the day he was elected or something like that. He looked a lot like Ike, (who was pres. when I was small) so when I was little I thought he was the president.

Stacy said...

Hah, pterodactyls. We've always called 'em that, too. There's no way they aren't descendents of flying dinosaurs!

Susan said...

We have a MANY wildlife refuges to thank Teddy Roosevelt for. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is my personal favorite.

That's a GREAT header photo with nice detail on the white birds. The fish video was fun. THANKS.


: )

Doug Taron said...

Video. FC raises the bar for the rest of us. Pretty cool. TR is one of my heroes.

Floridacracker said...

So far my rainy weekend has consisted mostly of laundry and chef duty. Good thing I got out in the boat Thursday and Friday.

It was.

Flummoxed fotos of flying fish. Too fast for me.

100K! Wow, that should be spectacular. To be only 5 miles away is pretty sweet too.

See laundry comment above. It's a pretty normal life.

Mis S,
Yes, the long term view is noticeably absent.
Glad you enjoyed the video!

I suppose the difference is in the river the attack is mostly from above and not double-ended.

Finally, another pelicanodactyl believer!

A vid of bear and gumbo should be pretty easy to do. I like it!

Me too on TR.
I did get some neat stills of a robber fly that looks like a bee a few days ago. Now I want to go back and try for a wee bit of video.

P said...

Beautiful pictures!

Your blog never fails to make me miss Florida!


Deb said...

I would have had a lot of fun watching those pelicans. Thanks, Teddy.

SophieMae said...

DAWG! I thought about going to Cedar Key this weekend, but real life kept me local. Pretty dawgawn fantastic captures! Love those diving pelicans.

Are the birds in your header some of the same fish-chasers? I still have a lot to learn about the terns... sandwiches and royals?

Whenever I see pelicans gathering in a particular area, I look for dolphins. The birds quite often seem to take advantage of the dolphins' roundup.

I do believe Teddy might just have been the 20th century's greatest prez. We certainly owe him a huge vote of thanks.

Paintsmh said...

So what specifically was holding them to the surface? Sharks? Barracudas? Some other random fish?

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! I remember how I missed it when I lived in exile for a few years.

I bet! Do you get these on the G.Lakes?

Ditto on TR.
I thought royals too, but need to brush up on my ternieness.

Excellent question.
I believe it was a school of bluefish based on one quick leap by an attacker.
Could have been a mix of ladyfish, jacks, and blues tho.

Rurality said...

Every other sqaure inch of FL is developed now, right? ;)

Deb said...

FC- There are white pelicans mainly in the western part of the state, but once in a while during spring migration we'll see a flock on a lake around here.

Juli said...

Well how about that?? I was at Cedar Key, Friday until today! It was a nice and quiet weekend for us in honor of our 19th wedding anniversary. Had dinner last night at a favorite place: The Blue Desert Cafe. Yum!