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Showing posts from December, 2012

Merritt Island NWR, 12/31/2012

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I spent the last morning of the year at Merritt Island. We went by Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and then Biolab Rd.  I was hoping to find one more species for the year, but it looks like I'll have to end the year at 259 Florida birds.  Still, it was a nice, sunny day, and there lots of fun highlights.  I don't think I've ever seen so many spoonbills on the island.  There were easily upwards of 50 Roseate Spoonbills, plus many Glossy and White Ibises.  Ducks were also plentiful, and at times the lighting was pretty good to photograph the numerous Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and American Wigeon and Hooded Mergansers.

On the way back, we decided to drop by the visitor center to check the bird feeders for Painted Buntings.  They show up at the feeders there pretty regularly.  I've been trying all year to photograph a male Painted Bunting.  But all I've found all year long were females.  So I broke down today and went to a feeder.  Here are my first male Painted …

Econ River WA, 12/30/2012

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This morning I spent a little bit of time at the Econ River Wilderness Area.  It was a pretty good time.  Highlights were about seven Brown-headed Nuthatches and a Pied-billed Grebe with a fish. Other highlights were a Downy Woodpecker, Little Blue Heron and an Eastern Towhee.

Merlin with Ruddy Turnstone

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At Merritt Island the other day I was able to photograph a Merlin eating what appears to be a Ruddy Turnstone.  It was so busy with its prey that it didn't mind me photographing it.  I happily enjoyed it happily enjoying its food until a vulture decided it needed to spoil the fun and perch where this Merlin was perched.  I was particularly impressed with the way the Merlin ripped the feathers off parts of the bird before consuming it, and in some of the photos, you can see the feathers flying in the wind.

Razorbills!

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This morning we drove out to Anna Maria Island in the hopes of getting photos of the Razorbills that have been seen there.  We were not disappointed.  We got there around 11:15, and we found four north of the City Pier.  Two of them were very content to feed near the shore.  They came very close to the shore, and I was just amazed by them.

If you're not aware, Razorbills are extremely rare for Florida. Before this year, only 14 had ever been recorded in the state. But over the last few weeks many have been appearing along the coast of Florida, and many have even made it into the gulf, where we found these. I don't think that anyone knows exactly why we've had so many here. Some have suggested that Hurricane Sandy is the cause; others have suggested that their food supplies have been depleted in the northeast. If you're interested, there's an article about this invasion here.

Canaveral National Seashore, 12/27/2012

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This morning I went out to the Canaveral National Seashore hoping to find another Razorbill and a Surf Scoter. I found neither, but sometimes you can have a great day even when you find nothing you hoped for.  We first dropped a couple of the "vistas" on the way to the seashore, and we saw a couple Ruddy Ducks and what I now believe was an Iceland Gull--rare for Florida.    We then stopped at parking lot 7 and found nothing unusual--some Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, lots of Royal Terns, and several birds so far out that they couldn't be identified even with a 60x scope.  We then drove up to parking lot 12 and found the photographic highlight of the morning--a Merlin in a tree eating what appears to be a Ruddy Turnstone. On the way home we dropped by Parish Park (just east of the Max Brewer bridge) and found a Bonaparte's Gull with some Sanderlings.

Ponce Inlet, 12/26/2012

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I returned to Lighthouse Point Park at Ponce Inlet again in the hopes of finding a Razorbill. We found one far off the jetty.  My father, who's in town for Christmas, located it in his scope, and I was able to locate it briefly with my binoculars.  It was very far away (I probably would not have been able to identify it with my binoculars), the winds were strong and the waves were high, and the Razorbill appeared to be spending a lot of time "flying" under water.  So no photos of the Razorbill, but later this week we're hoping to go to the gulf where people have been getting pretty good photos of Razorbills.

Black Skimmers, though, were a very different story. There were many there, and a couple were actively bathing and skimming by the shore, making me very happy.  Gulls were numerous too, though not like the last time I came came here.  We found only Herring, Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls, plus Royal and Sandwich Terns. Also fun was seeing a Northern Gannet fly r…