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article imagePhoto Essay: Birds and Butterflies on Tybee Island Special

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By Kay Mathews     Dec 15, 2012 in Environment
Tybee Island - Hundreds of bird and butterfly species can be found on Tybee Island, from sandpipers to seagulls and long-tailed skippers, which adds to the beauty of this coastal paradise.
Tybee Island is a place where summer lasts all year long and spectacular sunsets abound.
Beautiful birds and butterflies can also be found on the beaches of Tybee Island. Tybee Island - North Beach is a site on the Colonial Coast Birding Trail, where "More than 300 species of birds (75 percent of the total species of birds seen in Georgia) have been spotted at the 18 sites along the birding trail." In addition, Tybee Island, located in Chatham County, Ga. is, according to Butterflies and Moths of North America, home to "verified sighting records for 108 butterfly species from this region." A few of those species are seen below.
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
According to the "All About Birds" guide, the Brown Pelican "is the only dark pelican, and also the only one that plunges from the air into the water to catch its food." The images below capture that feat.
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal.  Tybee Island  G...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal. Tybee Island, Ga.
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Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal.  Tybee Island  G...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal. Tybee Island, Ga.
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Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal.  Tybee Island  G...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) plunges into the ocean to try to get a meal. Tybee Island, Ga.
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Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
To identify this shore bird of coastal Georgia, I utilized an identification guide [PDF] that leads me to conclude that this small bird is a ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres). According to the guide, it is a "small sandpiper." Its bright orange legs, along with its behavior of darting "up and down the surf zone," gave it away.
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) forages for food on and around North Beach jetties.  Tybee Isla...
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) forages for food on and around North Beach jetties. Tybee Island, Ga.
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Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) forages for food on and around North Beach jetties. Tybee Islan...
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) forages for food on and around North Beach jetties. Tybee Island, Ga.
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California Gull (Larus californicus)
Because of the features of the bird pictured below, particularly the greenish-yellow legs and feet, and comparing the image to one seen here, it appears that this is a California Gull (Larus californicus). The California Gull is normally found on the pacific coastline so, it seems, this gull has strayed far from home.
California Gull (Larus californicus).  Tybee Island  Ga.
California Gull (Larus californicus). Tybee Island, Ga.
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Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America, Urbanus proteus has a long tail, adults roost upside down under leaves and limbs, their food is flower nectar, and their range is quite extensive - from Argentina north to peninsular Florida and occasionally beyond.
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus).  Tybee Island  Ga.
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus). Tybee Island, Ga.
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Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
Butterflies and Moths of North America indicates that the flight of Agraulis vanillae occurs "Throughout the year in south Florida and South Texas, January-November in the north" and their range is from South America north to the southern United States and occasionally wandering to the central United States.
The beautiful and vivid colors of this butterfly made it hard for me to restrain myself from taking numerous pictures.
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).  Tyee Island  GA
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). Tyee Island, GA
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Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).  Tyee Island  GA
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). Tyee Island, GA
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Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).  Tybee Island  GA
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). Tybee Island, GA
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Note: I am neither an ornithologist or a lepidopterist; rather, I am a nature observer and photographer who has utilized websites to aid in identifying the birds and butterflies I have photographed on Tybee Island. As such, any incorrect identifications are clearly unintended and regretted.
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