Monday, June 27, 2016

Markham Woods Tract Scenery

Markham Woods Tract HDR
Well, 2016 is the last year of the 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas for Florida (BBA2).  The first one began in 1986 and lasted for 5 years.  This second one began in 2011.  I became involved in 2013, and it's been a wonderful way to motivate me to get out into nature during the hot months of May, June and July. This being the last year of the survey, we're focusing on certain strategic areas.  We use the U.S. Geological Survey Quad maps, and we divide each map into six blocks.  The 6-block of each quad is an area where we want to concentrate.  So I've spent a fair amount of time at the Markham Woods Tract of the Wekiva Springs State Park, since that's in the 6-block of the Sanford SW Quad.  I've been here a few times before, but I've never concentrated on the area because it seems like other areas are just a little bit better for finding wildlife.

Markham Woods Tract
However, I've been there quite frequently this May and June and Iv'e found that the area is much more expansive than I had thought.  I've added 18 species this year to my list for this eBird hotspot, mostly because I've explored more of the area. I've been bringing my point and shoot camera with me, and occasionally I shoot a few scenic shots.  Here are a couple that I'm willing to show you.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Virginia Opossum with Young

Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Yesterday morning I drove out to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  It's one of my favorite places for birding, and I was hoping to photograph a Yellow-breasted Chat that had been located there the day before. I heard two calling and singing in different places, but neither was interested in coming into view so I could get his photo.  Still, it was a fun drive.  My favorite moment, though, had nothing to do with birds. I saw an opossum walking towards me.  At first I thought it had some sort of deformity. It looked like it had a growth coming out the left side of its head.  But as it came closer, I noticed she had 4 little ones clinging on to her!  Because one was covering her eyes, I think she was more concerned with her young than with me. So I crouched down and remained motionless to let it get closer. When it came closer than my camera could focus, I backed up. She seemed totally unconcerned with me until I stood up to walk away, at which point she wandered into the taller grasses. These moments made my day.

Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
Opossum with Young
 Here is a link to my eBird checklist for the morning.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ruff at Marl Bed Flats, 5/3/2016

Ruff
Ruff
This morning I drove out to Marl Bed Flats. It rained last night, and I was hoping something interesting might show itself out on the flats.  I got my wish when I saw a couple Semipalmated Plovers in the muddy areas along the lake shore.  I also flushed a Wilson's Snipe--a common species in March, but pretty rare this time of year. I would have arrived at work happy just to see these.

Ruff
Ruff
However, down by the shore of Lake Jesup I came across a loose flock of yellowlegs and Black-necked Stilts. As I was taking photos of the yellowlegs, one turned its head and the bill was too short for a yellowlegs. Then I saw a profile view of the bird and a flight shot, and I was blown a way.  A Ruff, practically in my back yard! This bird is about 20 minutes from my home.  I still can hardly believe it.

Bobolinks
Bobolinks with 2 Least Sandpipers
Another highlight was about 150+ Bobolinks in the same area.  I got one pretty fun flight shot of them, mostly males with a few females sprinkled in.  It was fun to find a couple Least Sandpipers mixed in with the Bobolinks.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bronzed Cowbird at Newton Park, 3/17/2016

Bronzed Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird
On March 16, three Bronzed Cowbirds were reported at Newton Park by Lake Apopka in Orange County.  I drove out there early the next morning to see if I could find them.  They were still there and very cooperative. There are two bridges right near the parking area, and the birds seemed to like the trees and grass between the two bridges. The moved around a fair amount, but they were pretty easy to find.

Bronzed Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird
I believe they are still there--at least someone reported them there yesterday.

Swallow-tailed Kite at Wirz Park

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite
This month eBird is encouraging birders try new places this month. Their challenge for this month is to visit 15 new locations this month.  I thought that sounded like a good challenge and set my sights on finding some new places to visit.  Wirz Park is on my way home, and it's already listed as a hotspot on eBird, but I've never been there before. It was the hotspot with the lowest total in Seminole Co. (16 species). I wasn't expecting much when I visited.

However, I was very pleasantly surprised.  It's a nice-looking park, and there was a nature loop that includes a boardwalk and a trail that follows a stream. If you walk the loop and walk around the park itself, you'll walk about a mile. In my one visit on March 15 I recorded 37 species for eBird, raising the total for the hotspot up to 43. I think there's a fair amount of potential here, and it may even be a decent place to look for migrants over the next month or two. Highlights were: Eurasian Collared Doves, White-winged Doves, Painted Buntings and Swallow-tailed Kites. The kites were flying low over the canopy, and when they flew over the path, it made for some good photos.  There were two there, so I suspect they may be nesting there.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Five-lined Skink

Five-lined Skink
Back in August of 2014 I was at my parents' house, and I saw a skink on a tree in their backyard.  I ran and got my camera to take these photos.  These are very common lizards in the Eastern United States, but for some reason, I very rarely see them.  These are the first photographs I've ever captured of the species.  I love their blue tails.

Five-lined Skink

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015: A Year in Review

Shiny Cowbird
Shiny Cowbird
For me, 2015 was a fantastic year of birding.  I've been doing this a while now, so gone are the days when I get 70+ lifers per year.  New birds are fewer and farther between for me, but that adds to the challenge.  And I've begun focusing more on county listing, which helps to keep things fresh.  This year, though, I benefited tremendously by one trip out west and two trips out of the country. These were not birding trips, but I had a little bit of time to at least check my surroundings to see what was available.

Smooth-billed Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
I found 16 lifers on my visit to Antalya, Turkey
  1. White Stork 
  2. Eurasian Sparrowhawk 
  3. Laughing Dove 
  4. Eurasian Siskin 
  5. Common Buzzard 
  6. Eurasian Jay 
  7. Great Tit 
  8. White-spectacled Bulbul 
  9. Common Redstart 
  10. Black Redstart 
  11. Gray Wagtail 
  12. Common Chaffinch 
  13. European Greenfinch 
  14. European Goldfinch 
  15. Hooded Crow 
  16. White Wagtail
Great Tit
Great Tit
White Wagtail
White Wagtail
I found another 4 lifers in Acapulco, Mexico
  1. Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
  2. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  3. Audubon's Oriole
  4. Rufous-naped Wren
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow
My trips to California and Alabama yielded 4 lifers
  1. Black Phoebe (CA)
  2. Wrentit (CA)
  3. California Quail (CA)
  4. Wilson's Warbler (AL)
Black Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Purple Swamphen
Gray-headed Swamphen
Within the State of Florida, I added 13 lifers:
  1. Broad-winged Hawk
  2. Curlew Sandpiper
  3. Spot-breasted Oriole
  4. Shiny Cowbird
  5. Smooth-billed Ani
  6. Gray-headed Swamphen
  7. Alder Flycatcher
  8. White-crowned Pigeon
  9. Long-tailed Jaeger
  10. Bell's Vireo
  11. Brewer's Blackbird
  12. Western Spindalis
  13. Red-whiskered Bulbul
  14. Scaly-breasted Munia (not countable)
  15. Yellow-chevroned Parakeet (not countable)
Neotropic Cormorant
The lists I care most about have to do with Florida, Seminole and Orange Counties. I decided to concentrate on Orange Co. more this year than I have in previous years. I wanted to see if I could get 200 species in both counties. I succeeded on both counts

County Year Life
Florida
290 346 (added 21)
Seminole Co.
218 244 (added 8)
Orange Co.
215 243 (added 22)

Bronzed Cowbird
Bronzed  Cowbird

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