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  • Writer's pictureMatt

Birds and Plants of North Florida Beaches

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

We recently went to Florida for a short beach trip and had a ton of fun! It was a great time since it was July and this is the prime beach season. Along with people, wildlife and plants were out in abundance. There was even a blocked off turtle nesting area, so the beach was teeming with life and action. Here's a few bits that we came across during our trip.

Florida has a wide variety of ecological environments, so we'll be focusing on the Northwestern area for this post. Since it's summer, we'll also be talking about the beach!

Coastal Dunes and Beach Grasses: Nestled along the picturesque Emerald Coast, Destin, Florida, boasts a captivating natural ecosystem characterized by its coastal dunes and beach grasses. Serving as a vital interface between land and sea, these dunes play a crucial role in safeguarding the shoreline from erosion and storm surges. Accompanied by hardy beach grasses such as American beachgrass and sea oats, the dunes owe their resilience to the adaptive nature of these plant species, effectively anchoring the sand and encouraging dune growth. Beyond their protective functions, the beach grasses offer valuable ecosystem services, including soil enrichment, support for diverse flora and fauna, and acting as natural filters. Despite facing various threats from human activities and climate change, the preservation of these unique landscapes necessitates concerted efforts in dune restoration, public awareness, and conservation regulations. Understanding and protecting these coastal wonders are essential, ensuring their continued existence as natural treasures for both educational and ecological purposes.

Birds: Shorebirds: Due to its location along the Gulf of Mexico, Destin offers an excellent habitat for shorebirds. You can often spot birds such as pelicans, seagulls, sandpipers, plovers, and terns along the sandy beaches and coastal areas.

  1. Herons and Egrets: The marshy and estuarine environments around Destin are ideal for wading birds like great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, and other species. They can be seen hunting for fish and other small prey in the shallows.

  2. Sea Birds: In addition to the common gulls, you might also encounter other sea birds such as brown pelicans, royal terns, and laughing gulls. Brown pelicans, in particular, are fascinating to observe as they dive into the water to catch fish.

  3. Raptors: Various species of raptors can be found in the region, including ospreys, hawks, and occasionally even bald eagles. Ospreys are commonly seen hovering over the water before diving down to catch fish.

  4. Migratory Birds: During spring and fall, Destin becomes a stopover for many migratory bird species as they travel along the Atlantic Flyway or the Mississippi Flyway. You might spot warblers, vireos, thrushes, and other songbirds during these seasons.

  5. Waterfowl: In the winter months, some waterfowl species like ducks and geese can be seen in the area's wetlands and ponds.

The next time you are enjoying the beach in North Florida (Gulf side), be sure to bring your camera and binoculars to catch some great photos of the wildlife!

Weather report: Hot. It's been over 90 degrees every day for the past month!

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