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Showing posts from March, 2012

East Lake Toho, 3/31/2012

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Yesterday at E. Lake Tohopekaliga, I saw four Snail Kites, but there were several other birds worth some attention.  The Limpkins were out in force, and there were several Green Herons out and a about, as well as Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons and Great Egrets. It was also nice to see two Wilson's Snipe and two Lesser Yellowlegs, and even some Purple Martins. I also saw a White-winged Dove fly by, which I was kind of excited about.  There were also lots of rabbits out and about.

Here's a list of the species I saw yesterday morning:

Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) 1
Mallard (Domestic type) 1
Mallard x Mottled Duck (hybrid) 3
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Egret 2
Little Blue Heron 1
Cattle Egret 4
Green Heron 4
White Ibis 15
Turkey Vulture X Black Vulture X
Osprey 2
Snail Kite 4
Common Gallinule X
American Coot X
Limpkin 15
Sandhill Crane 12
Lesser Yellowlegs 2
Wilson's Snipe 2
Ring-billed Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 6
White-winged Dove 1
Mourning Dove …

Snail Kites at East Lake Toho

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This morning I had an appointment in Osceola County, so I decided to go early down to East Lake Tohopekaliga to see if I could find any Snail Kites.  I stopped near Crabby Bills and walked along the south side of the lake. I got there around 8:15am and saw none for a while, but just before 9am, I saw four that "congregated" high above my head.  After about a minute or so, one of them flew west and the the other three headed east.  I followed the three toward the east, and one of them flew by me relatively close a couple times. It's hard to know for sure, but I think I have photos of at least three of the four that I saw.


A Cormorant and a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

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This morning I walked around my office parking lot, and I found a couple fun birds to photograph.  At Grassy Lake, a Double-Crested Cormorant came in for a landing, and in the trees behind my office a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher was buzzing around actually posed for me a second.

Here's a list of the species I saw this morning:

Mallard x Mottled Duck (hybrid) 2
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Anhinga 1
Great Egret 1
White Ibis 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Common Gallinule 2
American Coot 1
Mourning Dove 2
Blue Jay 2
Fish Crow 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 1
Cedar Waxwing 30
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Common Grackle 4
Boat-tailed Grackle 1

Sandhill Cranes at Red Bug Park

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On my way home from work yesterday I went by Redbug Park to find the Sandhill Cranes.  They were out foraging in the grass, and they had a little bit of an audience.  Thankfully everyone was respectful of their space, but honestly I don't think they were concerned about any of us in the least.  It's fun to see the chicks growing up.  The parents are still feeding them, but the two chicks are trying to find food on their own too.  And they are probably more than twice the size they were when I photographed them just two weeks ago.  They seem to be exiting the "cute" phase, but I think their still fascinating to watch.

I met a fellow photographer there whom I've interacted with before on line, but never met in person.  It was great to meet a kindred spirit in person.  He mentioned to me that the last time he was there one of the adults had gotten its legs tangled up in something, probably fishing line.  Thankfully its free of it now. 

Live Oaks Blvd, 3/28/2012

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It's funny how quickly birding locations can change.  I spend about a half hour birding around the parking lot of my office before work, and I've been documenting what I find on eBird.  Until last week, I'd been seeing several varieties of warblers and woodpeckers every day.  Yellow-rumped were frequently seen, but Palm, Pine, and Black-and-white Warblers were seen regularly, and an Orange-crowned showed up from time to time. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers could be seen and heard in abundance, and I even saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker here about 2 weeks ago.  You were also likely to see Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets from time to time.  At Grassy Lake (to the south of my parking lot), as many as 16 Ring-necked Ducks could be seen at the lake, as well as 3 Hooded Mergansers and 4 Wood Ducks were almost always seen.

Over the past week, all this has changed.  The Ring-necked Ducks diminished in numbers and are now gone; warblers are nearly absent, and th…

A Tale of Two Owls

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In Saturday's post, I described how I found an injured Barred Owl at Mead Gardens.  The owl had fallen from its nest before fully fledged, and when I found him, he was unable to move.  I brought him to the rescue center in the hopes that he would recover from his injuries.  The following day, I read a report that another birder had found his sibling in the same area of Mead Gardens.  I returned to the same location, and initially I did not see the him, but as I was looking I heard the call of one of the parents.  I quickly moved away from where I was and looked back to find that I had been standing very near the owlet.  So from a safe distance I photographed both the owlet and his parent.

I found out this morning that the injured owlet did not survive; the spinal trauma was too severe.  This saddens me, but I do take some comfort that there is another healthy sibling in the park.  I decided to document the experience more completely on the Birding is Fun! blog with photographs fr…

Green Heron at Live Oaks Blvd, 3/27/2012

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This morning I saw my first Sharp-shinned Hawk in front of my office.  It was the first I've seen this year.  Unfortunately, though, he flew by so fast I didn't get my camera focused on him before he disappeared behind some trees.  I did, however, get a consolation prize.  Shortly after he disappeared, a Green Heron flew out of the trees and let me photograph him.

Here's a list of the species I saw this morning: Mallard x Mottled Duck (hybrid) 3
Hooded Merganser 3
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Great Egret 1
Green Heron 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Common Gallinule 2
American Coot 3
Ring-billed Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 1
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 2
Cedar Waxwing 50
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Common Grackle 5

Live Oaks Blvd, 3/26/2012

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This morning I spent a little bit of time birding in front of my office--it was one of my slower mornings.  About the time I was giving up, a Northern Cardinal and a Brown Thrasher had some pity on me, but not much, since neither came out into decent light.  Perhaps I should have spent my time photographing squirrels.
Here's a list of the species I saw this morning: Wood Duck 1
Mallard x Mottled Duck (hybrid) 1
Hooded Merganser 3
Pied-billed Grebe 3
White Ibis 50 flyover
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
American Coot 2
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 2
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 1
Fish Crow 6
Carolina Wren 2
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 8
Red-winged Blackbird 2

The Problem of Backgrounds

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One of the constant challenges faced by wildlife photographers is getting a pleasing background.  Photographers often covet finding a scene in which they can make the background completely blurred.  This is achieved by a combination of factors:
Distance between the subject and background.  The more distance you can put between your subject and the background behind it, the more you can blur the background.Small f/stop.  By using a smaller f/stop (=wider aperture) you can decrease the depth of field in your photograph, making it easier to blur the background.Focal Length of Lens.  The longer the focal length of the lens, the easier it is to make the background appear less cluttered, more uniform, and more blurry.  In other words, with a longer focal length lens, you can isolate one part of the background you'd have to include with a wider lens, and you can choose a part that has a more even coloration farther away from the subject.  With longer focal length lenses, what's in th…

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

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I shared in my last post that I brought an injured owlet to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey yesterday.  One of the benefits of doing this, other than the good feeling of helping an injured bird, is you get free admission to the center to visit all the birds of prey they have there.  All their captive birds have sustained injuries that are too severe to allow them to be released in the wild.  They remain at the center for the rest of their lives, and they help raise awareness for the others.  The Audubon Center has treated over 12,000 raptors since it was founded in 1979, and they are able to release 40% of the birds they treat into the wild.

So my daughter and I were able spend a couple hours looking at these birds, and of course, I had my camera.  It feels a little like cheating displaying these photos--I normally don't display photographs of captive birds.  But I'm showing these here to support this wonderful center and encourage others to support any other centers tha…

Mead Gardens, 3/24/2012

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This morning I had only a couple hours to go Mead Gardens.  Initially I was having a pretty good time there.  I saw my first Goldfinch in Florida, as well as lots of Cedar Waxwings, several Northern Parula, and the woodpeckers were particularly fun, especially Downy Woodpeckers, though I also saw Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

My morning got cut short, though, when I happened upon a 5-week old Barred Owl that apparently fell from its nest.  The owl was clearly injured, unable to move, and one of the parents was not far away but helpless to do anything about it.  I had met another birder who called the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, and they instructed us how to bring the bird to the center, which was only about 10 minutes away.  The people at the center told me that the owl had suffered a broken wing and spinal trauma.  They should know in about 3 days if the owl will survive.

Here's a list of the species I found this morning:
Wood Duck 2
Mallard x Mottled Duc…