Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

Sunrise Over Palms
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
I bought my Canon Powershot G7X so that I would be able take landscapes and other non-bird photographs without having to change lenses all the time. I spend all my time in nature just looking for birds, and so often I forget to photograph the scenery around me.  Well on November 30th the sunrise was too spectacular to ignore, so I pulled out my other camera and started taking photos. I'm pretty happy with these. These may be my favorite sunrise photos from the park.

Sunrise Over Palms
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Common Goldeneye in Sanford

Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
This past Saturday a friend of mine found a Common Goldeneye in the pond in front of the Joann Fabrics store in Sanford. This is the third year in a row that the duck has made an appearance there. We were in the area for a CBC when he texted me to let me know it has returned. So we drove to the pond and found the duck. The lighting was pretty good, so these are some of my favorite pictures of the species.

Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Seminole Ranch Conservation Area, 12/23/2016

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
This morning I drove to the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area. The parking area for it is right across the street from Orlando Wetlands Park. If there's no hunt planned for the day, you can get there as early as you like and walk to the St. John's River. The trail takes you to the St. Johns just north of Lake Cone. There's another trail that may have taken me a bit farther south, and I may try that next time, but it will probably be a longer walk. There was some great sparrow habitat along the walk.  Major parts looked wonderful for Le Conte's Sparrow, and I heard calls in three places sounded looked like ammodramus calls. I suspect that's what they were, but I only got my eyes on one, and I didn't see it long enough to be sure. The area was loaded with Swamp and Savannah Sparrows as well as Sedge and Marsh Wrens. Common Yellowthroats and Palm Warblers were also abundant. My first sparrow of the morning was a surprising White-crowned Sparrow. I've never had one by the St. John's before.

Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
My main goal was to get to the St. Johns to look for shorebirds. I've never been to this part of the St. Johns before, and I didn't know quite what to expect. When I made it to the river, life got really hard. The river's edge was extremely soft in places and once I sunk one boot deep into the mud.  I managed to get out without filling my boot with water, but I got mud all over my pants and hands getting myself out.  I was really hoping the birds out here would be worth that.  Farther north in Seminole Co, there are lots of yellowlegs, dowitchers, snipe, Dunlin, and Least Sandpipers along the river's edge. I wanted Dunlin for my Orange Co. year list.  Thankfully, I saw all these species, but not in the numbers I'm accustomed to seeing them in Seminole County.


In all I walked 6 miles, and about a half mile of it was pretty slow going. I think it was worth the hike. I got my Dunlin, I found a very surprising White-crowned Sparrow, and I found some wonderful Le Conte's habitat with a likelihood of seeing them in the future. I have yet to see that species in Orange Co.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows are so common in the winter time here it's easy to overlook them. Sometimes, though, they pop up and pose so nicely, they're hard to ignore. They're pretty smart-looking sparrows. In the mornings you can find them along the fence lines on Canal St, my favorite sparrow spot in Seminole Co. This December Canal St has been pretty slow. I've found one Lincoln's Sparrow there, but apart from that, I've just seen Savannah, Swamp and Song Sparrows. So far, not even a White-crowned has shown up. I keep checking the area, though, in the hopes that something more rare will appear. One of these days, a White-throated Sparrow will show up here, I know it.

Savannah Sparrow

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

South Florida Birding, 12/3/2016

Western Spindalis
Earlier this month a friend and I chased a Thick-billed Vireo in South Florida at Bill Baggs State Park in Miami. We were enticed by the possibility of both seeing that bird and seeing a Western Spindalis as well. Both birds had been seen within 50 feet or so of each other. So we made the four-hour trek down to Miami and staked out both birds. The Western Spindalis was the first to show herself. The Thick-billed Vireo showed up around 11am. We all had some pretty good looks at it, even though it was only for a few seconds, before it took off into the woods again. Unfortunately, it appears that sighting was the last time anyone saw it there. It seems to have moved on.

Thick-billed Vireo
From there we decided to check out a few other rarities. We chased a Western Tanager at Miami-Dade College. We missed that bird, but we had a flyover Cave Swallow, which was a lifer for me. We then headed down to Castello Hammock Park to look for a Buff-bellied Hummingbird. There were two of them there hanging out with both Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We missed the Rufous, but we had really good looks at the Buff-bellied. It even posed for photos.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
As a bonus, I was also able to photograph a young iguana and my first ever Great Pondhawk.

Iguana
Great Pondhawk
All in all, it was a great day. We got home before midnight and I added 4 year birds, three of which were lifers--Thick-billed Vireo, Cave Swallow and Buff-bellied Hummingbird. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Polk County Kingbird Roost, 11/12/2016

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Polk County to a kingbird roost about 1.5 hours from my house. Both Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have been regularly reported there over the last few weeks.  I arrived around 4:30 and within about 10 minutes or so, the Western Kingbirds started flying in. I counted about 8 of them before a kestrel came by and dispersed them.  As it got close to 5pm, I started to worry that the  Scissor-tailed Flycatchers may be perching on a set of wires outside of my field of view, so I started driving around the area, and sure enough, 4 of them were with another group of about 10 Western Kingbirds. I'm uncertain how many of those kingbirds I'd seen before the kestrel dispersed the first group I saw, but I believe there were at least 12 in all. Pretty easy and fun birding.  And I must say, that area of Polk County is quite beautiful.

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
The first group of Western Kingbirds I saw had the decency to pose in some pretty nice afternoon light,but the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were perched on wires facing east,and I had to shoot towards the west to get my photos. There's only one photo that I feel comfortable sharing. But they're such pretty birds, just watching them was reward enough.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lark Sparrow at Lake Apopka, 11/5/2016

Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
On Saturday I drove out to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive to see a Lark Sparrow that had been found there the day before.  It was seen near the gate area, so I didn't do the whole drive. I just walked up and down Lust Rd until I finally saw the Lark Sparrow.

Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
While waiting for the Lark Sparrow to show up, I also saw a Field Sparrow, which also is a bit unusual in Central Florida. To my knowledge, neither bird was seen the next day, though people did photograph a Clay-colored Sparrow in the same general area.

Field Sparrow
Field Sparrow
 

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