Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ponce Inlet & Smyrna Dunes Park 1/2/13

1/1/13 Sunrise
 Indian River 

I met up with my first bird of the year New Year's morning as I walked out on a dock along the Indian River at sunrise. The Great Blue Heron and I were equally startled by our unexpected encounter.  Brown Pelicans, Cormorants, Laughing and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, hundreds of Lesser Scaups, Belted Kingfisher, and Ospreys were also observed.

Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

My son and I headed out Wednesday morning for a day trip up the coast. Our first stop was at the Ponce Inlet, which is just south of Daytona Beach. We walked out on the fishing pier scanning the calm ocean waters as well as the rocks along the jetty for birds.

Snowy Egret

We saw this Snowy Egret with an injured foot at the entrance of pier. It later made its was to the end of the pier where it tried to get a free hand out from the fishermen. Ruddy Turnstones were the only birds we saw along the rocks. We saw about a dozen Northern Gannets fishing offshore. 

Ring-billed Gull

On the beach there was a large, mixed flock of Terns, Gulls, and Skimmers.

Royal Tern 

Next we headed south to Smyrna Dunes Park, which is on the other side of the inlet.

 We walked along the 2 mile boardwalk that winds through the dunes. We only saw a few birds, Loggerhead Shrikes and Palm Warblers. We saw quite a few Gopher Tortoise burrows, many of which had Tortoises nearby.

We came across this pair that was engaging in some interesting courtship behaviors. They initially stood about 5 five feet part with the male (I think) bobbing his head rapidly up, down, and  sided to side.

He then approached the other tortoise who retreated into her shell.

The male pushed his head into the other tortoise's shell and began pushing her around. The female tried to leave with the male following close by.

They both went tumbling into the burrow.

The male quickly came back out. He then walked around, ate some leaves, and decided to return to the burrow....

And wait....

We walked by about 20 minutes later and he was still waiting.


  1. Wonderful shot of the birds and I love the turtles. What a cool sight to see, are the turtles laying their eggs? Great post. Have a happy weekend!

  2. A very interesting set of pics Tammy, you’ve got to feel sorry for the Egret, but I love the close up of the Ring-billed Gull. The Tortoise is something else , I assume they are protected, but it must be difficult as I can imagine people taking them for pets.
    All the best Gordon.

  3. Absolutely brilliant the Tortoises doing what their good for, and I love the Royal Tern, superb.

  4. Hello Tammy, great series you have photographed.
    My favorite pictures are 5 and 10, which are truly sublime
    A nice weekend, Irma

  5. You and your Son had quite a day. I love the Ponce Lighthouse and would enjoy visiting both areas. The Tortoise scenario gave me a big chuckle ~:)

    Tammy, your shots are simply stunning! have a Happy weekend.

  6. I love these turtle series shots.

  7. courtship sometimes takes time. :)

    poor egret. the terns ALWAYS make me laugh!

  8. Hi Tammy!
    Lovely serie from a stunning place. Royal tern, what a lovely shot!
    Greetings from Sweden

  9. Hi Tammy, happy new year too you. I love that first shot of the indian river. Spectacular.

  10. Beautiful photos! The egret and gulls shots are really nice! The lighthouse, though, is my favorite. It reminds me of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes.

  11. What a great way to start off the year! Wishing you the best for 2013!

  12. Wonderful reportage about the tortoises!
    I had these when I was kid, a long-long time ago and have witnessed this same behaviour!
    Quite interesting!
    Beautiful photos Tammy as always!

  13. Wow, tortoise courtship behavior- something I have never even thought about!

  14. Hello Tammy,
    What a great shots you've made on your trip up the coast. Amazing to see the different birds. The Royal Tern is fantastic with his screaming orange beak.
    Your shots of the turtles are so funny,..hihi..!! Nice to see the hard working male, but I think the female has no much time fot it today,..haha..!!
    Good shots, I enjoyed it!!

    Many greetings,

  15. Love your first and second pictures Tammy and as for the turtle, I think we need to get him a copy of "She's just not that into you!"

  16. Superb pictures Tammy and beautiful place.. Cheers!!!.. :-)))

  17. Great series of photos you view Tammy, liked all but the best no. 5 and no. 12

    Happy new year!


  18. I love Ponce Inlet! Looks like I need to spend more time on the boardwalk too. Very nice photos.

  19. Buenas tomas, tanto de las aves como las de las tortugas.


  20. Schöne Bilder vom Spaziergang am Strand.


  21. Hello Tammy !
    Happy new year ! I have seen the Indian River so man times at your blog, and it is still amazing every time. I normally prefer animal and bird pictures, but this river pics in sunrise or sunset with or without clouds are spectacular. Florida will be a destination if I some time will cross the Atlantic ocean, - after all I have see from you and others in this area !

  22. That beach looks so wonderful! I wonder how long the girl turtle made the boy turtle wait. ;)
    xo Catherine

  23. Great reflections on the water in the first shot and I love the lighthouse!

  24. I adore that sweet face that greeted me this fine southern morning.

    Have a wonder-filled Monday, Tammy.
    and give little tyke a big hug from me ~:)

  25. wonderful picture of the gull and the tern -neither of which I have seen in real life! My "normal" macro lens is 105mm - it also works as a great portrait lens.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. WOW! Tammy very nice:) Your pics always have the perfect lighting. I love the collection of birds today...and I'm a sucker for a lighthouse. Cool encounter with the turtles. Hope you have a fun week!


I greatly appreciate your comments!