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Showing posts from March, 2013

Cuban Tree Frog

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Today I went out to my back yard to grill some meat, and I found this tree frog in the bushes.  It was pretty large, and I didn't know what it was, so I went inside to do some research.  It turns out this is a Cuban Tree Frog, and it's an invasive species.  It eats five other native frog species, and their tadpoles out-compete other  native tadpoles for food.  Plus their secretions can be irritating to humans.  So I went back out to see if I could capture the critter, and it was gone. I didn't have my DSLR with me when I saw this frog, but I did have my point and shoot camera, so I took this with what I had.

Merritt Island NWR, 3/30/2013

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I spent this morning at Merritt Island NWR.  I first went to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, and that was pretty fun. The biggest highlights were seeing several American Avocets in breeding plumage and my first Eastern Kingbird of the year.  The Eastern Kingbird was right near the restrooms, where I seem to find them every year.

At one of the stops there was a large mixed flock of wading birds and shorebirds (where I saw the avocets).  Photographically, this was the best part of my morning. At one point, a Peregrine Falcon dove in to attack, I suspect one of the many shorebirds, but pulled out of his dive. I was only able to get a photo after it decided to fly away.  Man, those birds fly fast!

After Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, I drove down Biolab Road and East/West Gator Creek.  The only significant finds here were several Black-necked Stilts, both Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers and about 15 Stilt Sandpipers.

Double-crested Cormorant with Fish

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A couple weeks ago I came across this Cormorant with a huge fish on Lake Eola.  The lighting was wrong to capture him swallowing the fish, but this particular shot turned out okay.

The Trees of Marl Bed Flats

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On March 17th I was at Marl Bed Flats and I brought my point and shoot camera with me.  I always think the Live Oaks on the path out the the flats are beautiful, so when the lighting is right, I frequently stop and take a few pictures.  But this time I must have taken them, went home and forgot I took them.  This morning I found them on my memory card, so I thought I'd share a couple with you.  The photo above is an HDR image made from three hand-held exposures.

Waterthrush Quiz

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On my Birding is Fun post for this morning, I summarized what I have found to be the most useful ways to distinguish between our two waterthrush warblers, Louisiana and Northern.  I thought it would be fun to have a waterthrush quiz here (there's another one there too).  If you are still learning to distinguish between them, check out the post and then look at these photos.  Some of the photos on the BiF post are the same birds in different poses here, so you'll likely get some of the answers just from comparing photos, but this is all just for fun anyway--no prizes. Feel free to include your answers in the comments below.

Little Big Econ SF, 3/26/2013

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Every time I visit this place I can't help but wonder why they couldn't decide if the Econ State Forest was little or big.  But what I have decided for myself is that I love this place, and I can't believe I've neglected it my first two years birding in Florida.  This morning was pretty fun.  Great Crested Flycatchers are moving back into the area, and I photographed my first of the year this morning.  Warblers were also fun.  I found seven this morning: Ovenbirds, Black and White Warblers, Northen Parula, Palm Warblers (including one "yellow" variety), Pine Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Yellow-throated Warbler.   I've seen Black and White Warblers occasionally throughout the winter, but their numbers seem to be increasing right now.  I heard several White-eyed Vireos and two Red-eyed Vireos, and the Red-eyed Vireos were the first I've seen this year.

Blue-headed Vireo

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There are four vireos that we get to see in Florida (well, there are others, but they are rare.  The Blue-headed Vireo is probably my favorite. They are the most colorful vireo, and it always feels like a special treat to find one.

Red-eyed Vireo

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Red-eyed Vireos are returning to Central Florida as migration is heating up.  To commemorate the event, I thought I'd share a few photos.  I love the sound track they often add to my forest wanderings.

White-eyed Vireo

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White-eyed Vireos are pretty fun.  They're a bird you'll probably learn to identify by their call much more easily than by sight.  Not because they are hard to identify--their white eyes are pretty distinctive.  But they don't always present themselves to be seen, even though I hear them all the time.

Spotted Sandpiper at Central Winds Park, 3/22/2013

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On the way home today I dropped by Central Winds Park.  I didn't see a lot there, but it was fun to see a Spotted Sandpiper in the little pond by the lake.  I had seen one flying low over the lake about a month ago, and this may be the same one.  I don't often see Spotted Sandpipers here in Seminole County, so I thought I'd share a couple photos.

Mead Gardens, 3/22/2013

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This morning I dropped by Mead Gardens for a little while before work. It was fun to see two Louisiana Watherthrushes and possibly one Northern Waterthrush, though I didn't get a very good look at it, so I can't be sure. Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers are still frequently seen, and many Norther Parula were singing all over the park.  I also saw a couple Common Yellowthroat and one Black and white Warbler.  Unfortunately, I didn't get good photos of any of these fun birds, but I did get photos of a Hermit thrush and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Exposure Compensation for Wildlife Photography

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I'm teaching at a Camera Club tonight, and the topic will be exposure compensation for wildlife photography.  I wrote a three page handout and also put together a PowerPoint presentation for tonight.  I thought some of you may want to see these, so I'm including a couple links to them here:

Lesson Handouts
Lesson PowerPoint

Feel free to download and use these for your own personal use.  Please do not use them for any other purpose without permission.

Yellow-throated Vireo

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I came home early today to watch my daughter while my wife is out of town.  It's a nice day outside so I opened up the front door and turned on a fan to get some air blowing in my home.  After I began working, I heard a bird I hadn't heard in a while--it was a Yellow-throated Vireo!  I ran outside with my camera and found the bird in a tree in my neighbors yard.  I took a few pictures for about 5 minutes.  Okay, now  back to work.

Loggerhead Shrike

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The Loggerhead Shrike is perhaps my favorite bird. Not only do they know how to make black, white and gray look quite handsome, but they have a habit of impaling their prey on barbed wire fences and thorns.  I see them all over Central Florida, most frequently where there's a field and a barbed wire fence.

Spring Hammock Preserve, 3/16/2013

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This morning I dropped by Spring Hammock Preserve just east of Lake Jesup.  There's a path that follows a stream there, and I thought the stream might be good for finding waterthrushes.  I ended up finding three Louisiana Waterthrushes along the north side of the trail and a fourth on the south side of the trail.  Since I found the fourth on my way back, it's possible that one of the ones I found on my way out just flew across the trail, but I think I found four in all.  Other warblers that were there were many singing Northern Parula, one Ovenbird, one Common Yellowthroat, and many Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  The photos here are a little grainy since the waterthrush was in the shade, and I had to raise my ISO to 3200 to get a shutterspeed of 1/125 sec.

It was also fun to find a Pileated Woodpecker working on a tree not far from the trail.  I got this shot off before it saw me and flew away (unfortunately, I still had my ISO set for watherthrush photos).

Barber Park, 3/14/2013

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Yesterday morning I had to take my car to CarMax get the breaks fixed.  I had an early morning meeting so I also had a little time to kill.  So I dropped by the nearest birding hotspot I could find at Barber Park.  It's a pretty little park just west of rte 436 between rtes 528 and 408.  I don't think it's a place I would make a point to visit again, but the park gave me some better photos of White-winged Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves. Neither of these birds technically belong here.   White-winged Doves are a western bird, but they were introduced into south Florida years ago, and they've been steadily moving north ever since.  Eurasian Collared Doves are European, but they were introduced into the Bahamas, and now they can be been found throughout the southern U.S.