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Wirz Park, 7/25/2017

This morning I dropped by Wirz Park to see what kinds of birds and bugs I might find before work. Last time I visited this park I saw several Scarlet Skimmers, which are one of the few (and possibly the only) invasive dragonfly species. My understanding is that they are native to Japan. But they are very pretty, and the males are so brilliantly red that I can pick them out against a green back ground, even with my red-green colorblindness. I was surprised to see several other species here too, including several Pin-tailed Pondhawks, which were new to me this far north.  Several of these dragonflies posed quite nicely for photos, so I thought I'd share them. I'm somewhat amazed that I've made two blog posts in a row with not a single bird or landscape photo. So weird.

Lake Proctor Wilderness Area, 7/22/2017

This morning a friend and I decided to head out to Lake Proctor Wilderness Area to do some birding and look for dragonflies. The habitat here seemed like it might be good for a Purple Skimmer, and we wanted to see if we could find any here.  Lake Proctor is pretty low right now, and really it amounts to several ponds, but the whole area is surrounded by pine trees, and parts of it appear to have a sandy bottom, and that's a good area for Purple Skimmer. We didn't see any, but we did see about the same number of odonata species as we saw bird species, about 20 each.

I'm pretty much a novice at dragonflies, and I don't think I've ever seen so many different species on one place. I saw 8 new species: Seepage Dancer, Atlantic Bluet, Lilypad Forktail, Comet Darner, Wandering Glider, Amanda's Pennant, Ornate Pennant, and Banded Pennant.

There were also some other insects that posed nicely for photos. My favorite is a little grasshopper that I  haven't yet identi…

Distinguishing Cave and Cliff Swallows

There's at least one Cave Swallow that has been hanging out at Lake Apopka for at least the past three weeks. It looks like it's trying to build a nest under a bridge, which would be really cool, especially if there's a second around. And not too far away, at a bridge over Rte 50, there have been Cliff Swallows breeding there for at least the past few years. 

These two species look pretty similar, so I thought it would be fun to make a post highlighting how you can tell the two species apart, especially in flight. Now most Cliff Swallows in the U.S. have largely whitish foreheads. However occasionally you can find the "Mexican" race, which has a dark forehead, and It think the "Mexican" race looks a bit more like a Cave Swallow. But if you get a good look at the face, It think it's not too difficult to tell them apart.

Cliff Swallows have much darker cheeks and throats, and so there's a large amount of contrast between the throat and breast. Cav…

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Lookalikes

When I was in Costa Rica, I saw lots of flycatcher. I couldn't believe how many flycatchers I saw. There are three, though, that look very similar--Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Streaked Flycatchers, and Pirated Flycatchers.  Sulphur-bellied have been seen in Florida on very rare occasions, and I believe Pirated have as well. These three flycatchers seem to be pretty common in Costa Rica, though. I saw Streaked Flycatchers the most. 

Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers have nearly all-black bills and a large black malar area. Streaked Flycatchers have a lot more pink on the bill and not nearly as much black in the malar area. By malar area, I mean basically the sides of the chin area.

Piratic Flycatchers are smaller, and they have proportionately small bills, making them far easier to separate from the other two, but they still look pretty similar.

Bahama Woodstar at Maritime Hammock, 5/16/2017

So I was planning to spend the next several posts sharing photos from Costa Rica, but a couple days ago, a Bahama Woodstar was found in Maritime Hammock in Brevard Co. So after work I took a drive to see if I could find the bird. When I arrived, there were birders there from all over the state and even some from around the country. I had to wait about 10 minutes before the Woodstar showed up. It gave us wonderful views for about 5 minutes or so, and then it flew off. I waited another hour or so for the bird to show up again, but it never did. Still, those 5 minutes were wonderful!

Great Kiskadee and Lookalikes

Everytime I go to Mexico I love seeing Great Kiskadees. They're beautiful birds, and they're always calling, it seems, so you always know they're around. But there are other species of flycatchers that look very much like them. The Social Flycatcher has a smaller bill and a slightly different facial pattern. I've seen those in Mexico a lot too. Boat-billed Flycatchers have much larger bills, and I saw my first in Costa Rica this past May (I've been wanting to do a post like this for some time, but I've wanted to wait until I actually saw a Boat-billed Flycatcher. And there's one more I can add here, the Gray-capped Flycatcher. This flycatcher has a grayer head, so it's a bit easier to separate from the others, but still, they look pretty similar.

Interestingly, only the Gray-capped and Social Flycatchers belong to the same genus. The other two are in different genera. And yet Social Flycatchers are far more easy to distinguish from Gray-capped then th…

Slideshow of Costa Rica Wildlife

During the first week of May my wife and I went to Costa Rica for our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful time! I spent most of the mornings out in the local parks looking for wildlife. The nice thing is that the sun comes up around 5:30am, which gives me plenty of time to be out in nature before my wife wants to think about getting up. Over the course of the week, I saw 152 species, and 103 of them were completely new to me. I decided to put together a slide show of some of my favorite photos. I hope you enjoy it.  I'll follow up with more photographs in future posts.