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Showing posts from May, 2013

Swallow-tailed Kites in Dade City, FL

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This morning I drove out to Dade City to look for Mississippi Kites that were seen there yesterday. I got there around 8:30 am, and by around 9:30 am, the area was swarming with at least 40 Swallow-tailed Kites.  Then off in the distance, I saw my first Mississippi Kite.  It was very far away; one person with a scope was able to identify it, and one of my photos worked well enough as an ID shot, but it was just too far away for presentable photos.  But that was a lifer for me nonetheless.  The Swallow-tailed Kites were much more photogenic, and a couple  flew pretty close to us in search of prey.  I've never seen so many Swallow-tailed Kites in one place. Most were flying low over the grasses, allowing for some photos of the kites with green backgrounds.

 I'm always amazed at how well they use their tails. They can rotate them almost vertically as they're turning. After they capture their prey, you can often see them eating it while flying.

Eastern Towhee at the Econ River WA

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This morning I got up early and went to the Econ River Wilderness Area, hoping to see or hear a Common Nighthawk.  No luck there, but the early morning foggy light was really nice, so I took the above photo of some trees in the fog.  And on the way back to the car, a singing Eastern Towhee became very photogenic.  For some reason, I get my best towhee pictures at the Econ River WA.

Great Crested Flycatcher at Lower Wekiva River Preserve

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This morning I drove out to the Lower Wekiva River Preserve in northeast Seminole County.  I was hoping to find a Bachman's Sparrow here.  After walking about 2 miles or so, I found two, and it looked like they were paired.  Unfortunately, they didn't stay out in the open long enough for photos, but it was good just to find them.  Hopefully the next time I visit they'll be more cooperative.  I also had a chance to see a couple Great Crested Flycatchers.  This one was calling from the tree where its nest cavity is located.  So I took a few pictures and then let him be.

I also took some photos of the scenery with my point and shoot camera.

Least Sandpiper

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Least Sandpipers have their names for a reason--they're the smallest peep we get to see. Consequently, I also have a hard time getting close enough for good photos.  But this one was by the shore where there' sa parking lot, so I was able to shoot these photos without leaving my car, and it wasn't disturbed by me.

Orlando Wetlands Park, 5/22/2013

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This morning I dropped by Orlando Wetlands Park for about an hour before heading to work.  It was fun to see a Roseate Spoonbill and three American White Pelicans, though they did not want to pose in good light for me.  The most interesting find, though, was a Belted Kingfisher, which is unusual here this time of year.

Also fun to find was a young Sandhill Crane; it's nearly full grown and getting new feathers.  All the normal wading bird were there, and a Cattle Egret flew by in good light for a photo.  Snowy Egrets were flying low over the water picking fish out of the water.  At one point, it appeared to be running on top of the water.
I also found this Florida Green Watersnake, the first I've seen and photographed.

Flowers of Marl Bed Flats

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This morning I went to Marl Bed Flats, and there wasn't much wildlife to speak of--well, there was a close encounter with a Feral Hog, which I never saw, but did hear very close to me.  I think we startled each other, and we both went in opposite directions.  Out on the flats there was not much to speak of, just the usual Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, and wading birds, with the addition of a very distant Least Bittern which I saw flying between patches of reeds at the slough.  Photographically, I turned my attention to the flowers, as there was some beautiful Water Hyacinth and Sensitive Briar blooming.  I know I've posted photos of both of these flowers recently, but they're so pretty I thought I'd go ahead and do it again.

Water Hyacinth

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The other day I was walking down a trial by Lake Jesup and found some beautiful Water Hyacinth blooms.  They really are pretty flowers, even though some consider it an aquatic weed. They are extremely fast growing, and they can sometimes cover the entire surface of a lake, choking out sunlight, reducing water flow, and lowering the oxygen content of the lake water.  Water Hyacinth was first introduced into North America in 1884, and in Florida it became a significant problem, but it has since been controlled.  So even though the flowers invasive, I do enjoy seeing them in small quanities.

Merritt Island NWR, 5/18/2013

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Yesterday I drove out to Merritt Island for the morning. It was a little slow, but it was still a pretty good morning.  Even though I see Least Sandpipers frequently there, I rarely get to see them up close and in good light.  Well yesterday I finally got some nice shots of these wonderful birds.   Black-necked Stilts are breeding here, so it was fun to see them just about everywhere, but it was also nice to see American Avocets in breeding plumage.  Even the Willets were sporting their new breeding looks.

Spotted Sandpiper

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There have been a couple Spotted Sandpipers at Central Winds Park this Spring.  Until this year, I've only seen this species in Brevard and Orange Counties.  It's been nice to see them in my home county on a regular basis.  The one above was taken at Central Winds; one below was taken near Cocoa Beach in the winter time, so he's not showing off his spots.

Markham Woods Tract of Wekiwa Springs SP, 5/15/2013

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This morning I decided to try a new place.  There's a tract of the Wekiwa Springs State Park that is in Seminole County. It's a very pretty park, and shortly after arriving, I heard a Summer Tanager greeting me to the park.  I never did see it; it was pretty far off the trail.  But it's the first I've found in Seminole Co, this year.  More photogenic were Wild Turkeys, Brown-headed Nuthatches, White-tailed Deer, and a butterfly that I believe is a Juvenal's Duskywing Skipper.  This is a place for me to visit again.

Black-and-white Warbler at Lori Wilson Park

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On Saturday I drove to Lori Wilson Park near Cape Canaveral hoping to see a Connecticut Warbler that had been seen the previous day. I came up empty though, and in fact, it was a pretty slow morning--Blackpoll Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, American Redstarts, and a single Common Yellowthroat were all I saw there. One of the Black-and-white Warblers was pretty active though, and it did not mind being very close to me. Occasionally I had to back up to focus on the bird. I love how they crawl on branches like a nuthatch or creeper, and many times you can find them upside down. They're one of my favorite warblers.

Whimbrel

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A little while ago at Fort De Soto I found a couple Whimbrels, and one was pretty cooperative.  It landed in front of me for just a few seconds, and then took flight.  The photos of the Whimbrel in flight are my favorite.

Spring Hammock Preserve, 5/10/2013

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I forgot my camera when I left for work this morning, and I'm kicking myself for  it.  I returned home from St. Louis last night, and I left my DSLR on the dining room table.  I decided to walk the Osprey Trail on Spring Hammock Preserve anyway, and thankfully at least I had my binoculars and point and shoot camera.  I walked down to the boardwalk and found two Prothonotary Warblers, and at the lake shore I found one distant Purple Gallinule.  The Prothonotary Warlbers must have known that I didn't have my good camera, and they both flew very close to me--mocking me for my forgetfulness.  I did get a couple shots with my point and shoot, though, which I'll include at the bottom of the post, just for those that might want to see them.  On the way back, I decided to look for subjects to photograph that my camera might be able to handle well.  Here is what I found.

And here are a couple ID photos of the Prothonotary Warblers.  I'm actually impressed that they came out as…