Sunday, March 1, 2015

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Audubon Park
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
There's a little lake (or large pond) near my house. It's just a little community pond, but during the winter time, there can be as many as 100 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks there.  They are also very tolerant of people. They like to hang out on a little hill, and there's a fence which is perfect for resting my camera.  Then I can take photos to my heart's content.

Audubon Park
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Audubon Park
Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Saturday, February 28, 2015

White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel's)

Canal St.
White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel's)
This morning I drove out to one of my favorite sparrow spots and found a White-crowned Sparrow. This spot seems to be good at attracting them, but for some reason, we get our fair share of the "Gambel's" subspecies of this bird.  In fact, I think every bird I've seen here, whether immature or adult, has been this subspecies.  Gambel's are rare this far east, so it's kind of nice to see them.

Canal St.
White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel's)
Gambel's (or Western Taiga) White-crowned Sparrows can be identified by the pale lores and bright orange bill. Below I decided to include a picture of our more typical White-crowned Sparrow with darker lores. There's a black line in front of the eye that connects to the black in the crown.

Paynes Prairie La Chua Trail

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Fun Day for Sparrows and Buntings

Canal St.
Grasshopper Sparrow
Yesterday I went to my favorite little sparrow spot in Seminole County.  It has been fantastic to us this winter, since we've been able to see Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and even a Lark Sparrow, not to mention our more commons species: Savannah, Swamp and Chipping Sparrows.  However, since early January, it seems that the two places I check had all but dried up.  I haven't seen anything but Savannah and Swamp Sparrows in over a month, which is strange because they shouldn't have left us yet.

Field Sparrow
But this morning, on my way to one of my spots, I saw about a dozen Savannah Sparrows along the canal beside the road. I decided to pull over and see what I could find.  Among the Savannah Sparrows were 2 Grasshopper Sparrows and 1 Song Sparrow.  Then in the distance I saw my first Field Sparrow in Seminole County.  Field Sparrows are not too common here.  For some reason, they don't seem to like coming farther south than Gainesville, though there seems to be a small pocket of them in around Lake Apopka.  Being so far away, the photo isn't all that great, but I'll take it as down payment on something better in the future.

Canal St.
Painted Bunting
And lastly, I saw two Painted Buntings--one male and one female. For some reason these have been absent from my favorite places as well, but they were both in the same area with all these other sparrows.  It's really funny.  I've checked this area out before, and I've never seen too much.  Now I'm not seeing too much in the "good" spots, and this little spot has been great.  Go figure. I guess if you're too much of a creature of habit, you'll end up missing good stuff.

Here's a link to my eBird checklist: 2015-02-24 Canal St..

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chipping Sparrow at Central Winds Park

Central Winds Park
Chipping Sparrow
When I moved to Florida I was very new to birding, and I knew next to nothing about sparrows.  I remember going to take our dog Ella to a dog park. I didn't know at the time that right next to this dog park was the best place to find warblers in Seminole County, Central Winds Park.  Anyway, I remember walking from the dog park to Lake Jesup and seeing sparrows.  I had no idea what they were, but I took a couple photos (terrible ones with a point and shoot camera), and later determined they were Chipping Sparrows.

Central Winds Park
Chipping Sparrow
The odd thing is that since that first visit I've been to Central Winds (including the dog park area) 250 times and seen 152 speices in the park.  However, I haven't seen single sparrow since that first visit--no Savannah Sparrows, no Swamp Sparrows, nothing.

Central Winds Park
Chipping Sparrow
However, this week I've started seeing Chipping Sparrows here again.  And a couple have even been pretty cooperative.  Now it would be great to see some other sparrows here too--Clay-colored would be nice,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

House Wren


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House Wren
Mead Gardens
House Wrens are extremely common during our winters here in Central Florida.  They're great at making a racket too, so you usually know they're there.  I'd love to find out if they outnumber Carolina Wrens during the winter.  I suspect not, but I wouldn't be surprise.  This is another bird I haven't concentrated on photographically.  I hope to remedy this soon.

Lake Apopka
House Wren
Lake Apopka
Huntington Central Park
House Wren
Huntington Central Park, Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Red Knot at Daytona Beach Shores

Daytona Beach Shores
Red Knot
Daytona Beach Shores is a great place to go to see gulls in the winter time in Florida.  About an hour before sundown, they fly in and land along the coastline by the tens of thousands.  My father and I went to see Thayer and Iceland Gulls that have been seen there frequently.  We picked the wrong day, though. I'm not sure if it was the wind or something else, but we were stuck with scanning about 2000 gulls, and none of them were the ones we wanted to find. The consolation prize was a Red Knot along the shore.  I think they're wonderful birds, even in their winter plumage, so I had fun taking a few photographs of it.

Daytona Beach Shores
Red Knot
By the way, I changed my site design.  My new computer has a full HD screen, and now every time I look at my blog I think my photos are way too small.  Unfortunately, blogger doesn't seem to let you automatically size your blog width relative to the size of your screen, so I have to try to find a happy middle ground that will accommodate both large and small screens.  Perhaps about once every year I widen my blog a little, assuming the average screen size is getting larger.  But today was a pretty big jump (1280 pixels wide), and I'm hoping I didn't make it too large for smaller screens.  Please let me know if it's too big for your screen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Hope I Never Get Bored with Common Birds

Orlando Wetlands Park
Common Yellowthroat
This past Saturday I had a fun time looking for rarities at Orlando Wetlands Park--Vermilion Flycatcher (found) and Groove-billed Ani (missed).  Along the way, I heard the familiar sounds of Common Yellowthroats grunting at me.  I decided to stop for a few minutes, and one in particular was being rather photogenic, so I took a few photos.  They're one of our most common warblers, especially in winter near water, but they can be found all year round.  Sometimes I just ignore them and walk by, but why? This is a beautiful bird.  It deserves some love despite being common, don't you think?

Orlando Wetlands Park
Common Yellowthroat

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