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Field Sparrow at My Feeder

Yesterday morning I checked my feeder as I was heading out for work and I saw a strange-looking sparrow on the ground under my feeder. I pulled out my binoculars and saw it was a Field Sparrow. What a surprise! I put out my feeder just after Christmas, and over the weeks since then, the number of birds coming to my feeder has steadily increased. I've now seen 11 species at my feeder, but this one is by far my favorite. I never thought of Field Sparrows as feeder birds, but there it was, along with about 8 Chipping Sparrows, which have been regulars at my feeders. I guess this one was passing through, saw the chippies and decided to rest here on its migration north.  I opened my window and fired off a couple shots before heading off for work.  That afternoon, it was gone.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

I've been chasing sightings of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in Florida for years. I've gone to Palm Beach County, where they are regular in the winter time, I've gone up to Alachua County, where they've been seen the day before and the day after I was there. I've chased them around Lake Apopka, where they've always eluded me. One showed up in a Wal-Mart parking lot a few weeks ago about a half-hour from my house, but it wasn't kind enough to wait around until I could get there. So when someone reported one on March 16th at a small park in Orange Co. I'd never even heard of before, I was a bit skeptical that I'd actually find the bird. I had to drive up to Alabama the next morning, but I decided to take an hour to look for it.

But once I found the spot, the bird was easy to find. And it was an incredibly cooperative adult male. He spent a lot of time throwing his head back calling. I found this behavior very entertaining and fascinating. The male is so…

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.

Common Goldeneye in Sanford

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.

Merry Christmas!!!

Seminole Ranch Conservation Area, 12/23/2016

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…

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.

South Florida Birding, 12/3/2016

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.

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 wit…