Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lake Mills Park, 4/18/2015

Lake Mills Park
Ebony Jewelwing
It's been forever since I posted on my blog--terribly long.  I had my camera equipment stolen in early March, which took me a bit out of commission, but I have most of it back now, so I'm back in the swing of things, though I haven't done any blog posts at all in April.  Anyway, yesterday my father and I decided to visit Lake Mills Park.  I've only been there a couple times, and I've never had any luck there. However, a friend of mine found a Summer Tanager there a couple days ago, and I need that for my year list, so we gave it one more try.

Lake Mills Park
Downy Woodpecker
The most obvious thing to check out there is the walk from the parking area to the lake.  This is the only area I'd explored before, and perhaps that's why I haven't been too successful there. There were surprisingly few birds there, though there were lots of Northern Parula in the trees.  It was fun to see a Bald Eagle, a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret flying over the lake.

Lake Mills Park
Northern Parula
Unless you do some exploring, you might never find the extensive boardwalk area.  I finally found it during this past visit and walked through it. It's swampy, green, and simply gorgeous.  Much of it follows a little stream, and I would think it would have been a good place for a Louisiana Waterthrush a few weeks ago.  We heard one Ovenbird calling and several Northern Parula, Red-eyed Vireos and even a Blue-headed Vireo singing.  I was also surprised to find a Ruby-throated Humminbird and Baltimore Oriole there. Damselflies were all over the place. Most all of them were Ebony Jewelwings.

Lake Mills Park
Summer Tanager
Lake Mills Park
Summer Tanager
After wondering through the boardwalk system, we stumbled upon the campground, which was in more of a pine forest type habitat.  There were several singing Pine Warblers there, a Black-and-white Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo, and several Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers.

Lake Mills Park
Red-bellied Woodpecker with what looks like a Mole Cricket
We didn't find our target bird until we were leaving. We decided to look across the street from the entrance into an open, grassy field. It looked like it might be good for bluebirds.  Then we heard the Summer Tanager singing.  In all we had about 37 species there in a couple hours, but I suspect there's much more to be found here.  This may be my first "successful" trip to this park, but hopefully it will not be the last.  This park is gorgeous, and it seems to have lots of potential--suburban park, pine forsest, bay swamp, and lake habitats all in one place.  That seems to be a recipe for successful birding.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Black-crowned Night Heron at Spring Hammock Preserve

Spring Hammock Preserve
Black-crowned Night Heron
I drove to Spring Hammock Preserve this morning hoping to find my first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year.  I didn't see one, but I did hear one calling.  The biggest surprise, though, was this Black-crowned Night Heron.  It had flown up into the branches of a tree overhanging a stream, so my guess is that it's going to try to nest somewhere along the stream.  I'm going to have to come back here more often now.  It would be wonderful to confirm breeding of Black-crowned Night Herons in this block.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dealing with Image Theft

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Stolen by
More and more I'm finding that my images are being stolen and published throughout the internet. I'm no expert at finding my stolen images, and I don't check for them very often, but I figured I share the little I know, and if any you have any tricks up your sleeve for how to deal with this, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. I'm always trying to learn more.

Finding Images
The best way I know of to find stolen images is to use Google Image Search.  You can just drag one of your images onto the page and it will show you where your picture has been published on the internet. I've found several stolen images this way.

Contacting the Site Owner
Sometimes all it takes is a nice but firm email to the site owner to get your images removed. About a year ago I found one of my images on NOAA's website.  They had made a presentation promoting a wildlife refuge, and they used one of my images of a Reddish Egret.  So I found their contact email address on the website and sent an email pointing out the theft.  I included the specific web address of the page using my image and also a link to my gallery page that showed the image belonged to me.  I politely but firmly asked them to remove the photo. The good people at NOAA replied quickly and fixed the problem.

Now I'm normally very generous with my images with those who ask, especially if it's for a good cause.  So I explained to NOAA that I'd be happy to let them use the image if they gave me credit. I'd have happily given permission to the person who made the presentation if they had just asked.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Reddish Egret
Stolen by NOAA
Contacting the Website Hosting Service
Sometimes image theft is not so benign.  That is, sometimes the problem isn't ignorance.  The person responsible for the site just doesn't care if he is stealing your images. A couple weeks ago I found one of my images on  There was an "article" (it did not read like a legitimate article) about bird migration.  They used one of my images of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. They did not give me any credit for the photo.  So I emailed the contact listed on the website and received no response or acknowledgement. After a week I tried leaving a comment on the offending page.  The comment never appeared, and again I had no response.  So I decided to email the web hosting service.  I went to and copied the URL to the site.  It gave me the name of the hosting service. I then went to the website for the hosting service, found the contact page and sent another email. Within an hour I received a response.  I was told that they had alerted the site owner, and if the image wasn't removed in 7 days, they would shut down the site.  A couple hours later I checked the page, and it was down. In fact, the whole website was down.  I'm guessing they found other suspicious activity on the site and shut it down.

If your images are being stolen, there are things you can do.  It's too bad this has to be a problem at all.  But I've found these methods largely effective.  What I would love to have, though, is a program that would scan all my photos I've posted on my smugmug site and blog and then show me where all those images appear, excluding places I normally post my photos.  That would be wonderful. Searching for images one at a time is a drag.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Purple Sandpiper at Ponce Inlet, 3/21/2015

Lighthouse Point Park, Ponce Inlet
Purple Sandpiper
Two of my aunts and uncles are in town staying with my parents, and so we all decided to go to the beach for a couple hours this morning.  It was pretty fun hanging out with my daughter and extended family, and of course, I kept an eye on the birds.  I didn't see much that was unusual, though I did see about 30 Barn Swallows flying in from the ocean--nice to see them returning.  The biggest highlight, though, was seeing a Purple Sandpiper at the jetty.  At least one seems to turn up here every winter, so I always hope to see one when I visit.  This morning I was not disappointed.  These are by far my best photos of this beautiful little bird.

Lighthouse Point Park, Ponce Inlet
Purple Sandpiper
Lighthouse Point Park, Ponce Inlet
Purple Sandpiper
Lighthouse Point Park, Ponce Inlet
Purple Sandpiper
Lighthouse Point Park, Ponce Inlet
Purple Sandpiper

Friday, March 20, 2015

Finally an American Pipit Photo I'm Willing to Show You

Marl Bed Flats
American Pipit
I see these wonderful little birds all the time during the winter.  My favorite place to see them is Marl Bed Flats, where a flock of 50 or more may fly overhead at any moment.  I have a terrible time getting photos of them, though.  I get shots of them in flight, usually far away, and I can never seem to get close enough to them after they land to get a photo.  Well, yesterday a flock of about 20 flew by, and then one little straggler followed and landed not too far in front of me. As I made my way a little closer, it seemed okay with me.  Here's my best shot.  There's certainly room for improvement, but at least I don't mind showing it to you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sparrows at Hal Scott Preserve

Hal Scott Preserve and Park
Eastern Towhee
On Saturday I visited Hal Scott Preserve to look for Red-cockaded and Hairy Woodpeckers.  I found both, but too early in the morning for photos.  Later in the morning Eastern Towhees and Bachman's Sparrows decided to put on a show.  They are such pretty birds I couldn't help but stop and take a few portraits.

Hal Scott Preserve and Park
Bachman's Sparrow

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crested Caracara Portrait

Brumley Rd
Crested Caracara
This morning I drove out to Brumley Rd looking for birds to add to my year list.  Top on my list were Summer Tanager (missed), Red-eyed Vireo (found), and Yellow-throated Vireo (found). But perhaps the best moment of the morning was when this Crested Caracara flew up on a fence post.  It was so close, I pretty much could only get the whole bird in the frame when its head was facing to the left.  So this is just about a full frame shot.  I cropped a little bit of the barbed wire from the bottom of the frame, but that's about it.


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