February 21, 2014

Fishing and Birding 101

This time of year Florida's typical high humidity is nice and low, so we really make a point to get out there on the beach and do some fishing on our days off.  We love to put fresh-caught fish on the grill and serve up fish tacos with homemade white sauce.  It's pompano season so now we're really on a mission.  This fish is one of the best in-shore catches you can bag, and if you've never tasted it, you really need to put it on your bucket list!
Morning on the beach at the end of our street.
When we go fishing I load up with my sand chair, binoculars, bird book, pen and pad of paper, three SPFs of sunscreen (15, 30 and 50), camera, ID, flip flops, hoodie, seashell bag and towel.  Beave wrestles everything having to do with fishing under his arms, in his hands, and over his shoulders.  We could walk to the beach but freighted as we are with gear, we drive the two blocks.  Our street has its own little parking area.  It's a shady, sandy spot with room for maybe four cars.  There are steps up over the dunes and then steps and a ramp down to the beach.

Gorgeous view.  Every shade of blue!
Beaver decides where we're going to set up.  If there's another fisherman or woman there, we make sure to stay clear of their area.  While Beave fixes his gear and prepares the bait and rigging, I smash my chair into the sand and sit down to have a look at the bird situation.

Beaver works on his rigging.
All shore birds sort of look alike to me.  They're all vaguely Great Blue Herons, pelicans, sandpipers, or sea gulls.  So while Beave hones his fishing skills I decided to upgrade my bird watching by trying to chronicle exactly what kind of shore bird I'm seeing.  This is where my binoculars really make the difference.  I can observe specific bits about the bird, as if it were a criminal and I was going to describe it to the police.  With the aid of my bird book I think I nailed the following birds on our last fishing morning:

Shore Bird List

Ring Billed Gull
Royal Tern
Willet (winter plumage)
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Great Blue Heron
Ruddy Turnstone (winter plumage)

Royal Tern does a stealth walk up to our bait.
On that particular day, there were pelicans flying about but they didn't settle down close by so I couldn't note their markings.  There were porpoises playing out in the ocean, a couple of small water craft sped by, there were two planes on their way to Miami, a couple of other fisherman bagging (and throwing back) whiting, and no sea shells of note.  Beaver's fish count was 5 whiting and 1 jack, which we gave back to the ocean even though three of the whiting were keepers.  We really just want pompano.

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