Pink Plumes & Blooms: Spoonbills, Saltmarsh Mallow

Observe nature’s pink in plumes and blooms by venturing into Egans Greenway this summer in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. It’s one of the best spots on the island for birdwatching and native wildflowers.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FLORIDA FLORA AND FAUNA — SUMMER’S SPOONBILLS AND WILDFLOWERS

Florida Pink Plumes & Blooms: Roseate Spoonbills, Saltmarsh Mallow
Pink Plumes & Blooms: Roseate Spoonbills, Saltmarsh Mallow

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (June 14, 2012) — Observe nature’s pink in plumes and blooms by venturing into Egans Greenway this summer in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. It’s one of the best spots on the island for birdwatching and native wildflowers. A hiking or biking excursion for nature observation in the Greenway may offer a glimpse of the pink feathered Roseate Spoonbills and flowering Saltmarsh Mallow along the trail.

These pale pink Hibiscus-like flowers are also called Seashore Mallow and Virginia Fen-Rose (a summer and fall bloomer, scientific name Kosteletzkya pentacarpos). Plus sightings of one of Florida’s most unique birds, the Roseate Spoonbill, have been occuring here with the arrival of warmer weather. They’re back for their annual summer fling!

Roseate Spoonbills, Egans Greenway in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Roseate Spoonbills, Egans Greenway in Fernandina Beach

Besides Egans Greenway, mariners (or visitors who take a nature boat cruise out on the water), may spot the pink birds around the riverbanks, creeks and grassy marshland areas around Amelia Island. Oyster Bay Harbour is another location, just off Amelia Island, that’s a favorite place of the spoonbills.

Various species of birds can often be seen in this favored dead tree (pictured above), a bird magnet in the Greenway. With pink-colored feathers and spoon-shaped bill, these spoonbills stand almost three feet tall and are one of the most unique birds spotted during the summer on Amelia Island and nearby.

Roseate Spoonbills were almost wiped out, coveted for their pink feathers that were fashionable for ladies hats and fans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Groups like the National Audubon Society formed and the feather trade was eventually banned (thankfully!)

Pink Saltmarsh Mallow Along Egans Creek in Greenway in Fernandina Beach, Florida on Amelia Island.
Pink Saltmarsh Mallow Along Egans Creek in Greenway

The Greenway is a peaceful place to take a morning walk or bike ride before the heat of the day in summertime (photos here are of the northside of Greenway, entry/exit points are located behind the Fernandina Beach Rec Center off Atlantic Avenue and on Jasmine Street between South Fletcher Avenue and Citrona). Be prepared, however, with bug repellent, as one never knows if the mosquitoes will attack.

Note that the wading birds (egrets, herons, ibis) seem to gravitate to the Greenway around low tide, when the fishing’s better.

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By W.B. Lawson

"PERSPECTIVE" column -- Observations of island life, news & opinion.