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Showing posts from January, 2014

Pine Warbler and Image Backgrounds

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One of my favorite places to photograph Pine Warblers is the Econ River Wilderness Area. About a year and a half ago, I took my favorite photos of the species here.  They are the kind of photos I'd like to have for most species--I call them bird-on-a-stick photos.  These are the kinds of photos you see in field guides, etc. You see most of the bird, often in profile, and the background is completely blurred with no detail whatsoever.  I love these images, partly for their beauty, and partly for how difficult they are to achieve, especially with birds that like to perch in messy branches.  With today's software, you can often remove these branches, but I don't do much of this.  I'd rather spend my time taking pictures than messing with them. Here's one of my favorite images from my visit to this park in 2012.

Over the last couple weeks, Pine Warblers have begun singing all over the park, making them pretty easy to locate.  But today, the Pine Warblers didn't gi…

Viera Wetlands, 1/18/2014

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Yesterday I made it out to Viera Wetlands for a little bit during the afternoon. I much prefer to go in the morning, but even though family commitments kept me home in the morning, afternoon birding proved to be all that I'd hoped.  My biggest goal was to see an Ash-throated Flycatcher that's been seen nearby in the Moccasin Island tract of the River Lakes Conservation Area (just down the street from the wetlands). I went there first, and about 15 minutes after arriving it showed itself.  I wasn't able to get presentable photos, so after it disappeared, I went to the "click" ponds, but I returned a little later, and this time it showed itself a little better, and I had some very good looks at this wonderful flycatcher. The short drive from the click ponds to the flycatcher was also productive.  Here are some photos from along the drive.

The click ponds had more birds in it than I think I've ever seen there before. It was filled with Green-winged Teal, White …

Lower Wekiva River Preserve, 1/13/2014

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I had an absolute blast this morning at the Lower Wekiva River Preserve. I wasn't planning to go here this morning; I have to get here pretty early to walk the trail I enjoy most, and I normally don't have the time.  But my son missed his bus this morning, so I drove him to school, which is only about 10 minutes from the park), and this allowed me to get to the park early enough to walk my favorite trail.  It's a beautiful trail through pine scrub habitat, and just to the east there are breeding Florida Scrub Jays. I'm not able to get onto that property to see them, but I keep hoping one would venture into this park for me.  Sadly that was not to be the case today.  However, shortly after arriving, I started seeing Red-headed Woodpeckers--my first target bird.  In all I saw four of them, and I may have heard a fifth, but it's possible I heard one that I later saw. Three of the birds I saw this morning were in the same general area I'd seen six of these woodpec…

Econ River WA, 1/12/2014

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This morning I took a little walk around the Econ River Wilderness Area.  My biggest hope was to find a chickadee.  No luck there, but it was still a pretty fun morning.  Most of the normal birds were there, and both a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Tufted Titmouse were willing to pose for photos.  The best find of the morning, though, was a Cooper's Hawk. This is only the second Cooper's Hawk I've seen in the park, and I believe it gave me my first presentable photos of the species in Seminole County.  Most my Cooper's Hawk photos that I've kept have been taken at Mead Gardens in Orange Co.

Forster's Tern at Overlook Park

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This morning I dropped by Overlook Park.  It's aptly named, since that's pretty much all you can do there. It's basically a fishing pier, a parking area, and a few trees, but on either side of the park there are a couple inlets.  During the winter months, you can often see Bonaparte's Gulls and Forster's Terns flying into these inlets looking for food.  This morning there were about 3 Forster's Terns taking turns doing this.  It's a great photographic opportunity because you have the chance to photograph them with green trees blurred behind them rather than the more typical blue sky.  For me, any picture of a bird in flight is better with green behind it, but that's just my taste.

Seminole County Birding, 2013

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I didn't intend to attempt a Seminole Co. big year this year.  I intended to do at least a little birding every day, and since I have a little time before work, I tended to stick to Seminole Co. on most work days, with an occasional venture into Orange County to visit Mead Gardens or Wekiwa Springs.  On the weekends, I wanted to chase birds within about an hour's drive of my home.  But as finances became tight and time became limited, I found myself concentrating more and more on Semnole County. Eventually I decided to see if I could hit 200 in the year, and then once I did, I just had to keep going.

I believe my county is under-birded compared to neighboring counties (Orange, Lake, Brevard, Volusia). Seminole Co is small and filled with suburbs. It's inland so there's no coastline, and there's surprisingly few places to look for shorebirds.  But something about that makes a little more exciting.  I enjoyed looking for new places to find birds I used to think were…

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Econ River WA

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These guys are pretty common hear in the winter time, but they always elude my camera.  Well, I have many photos of this species, but hardly any of them are any good.  Today, one was working on a tree, in decent light, and it didn't seem to mind me being there.  I fired off a bunch of shots of this bird, and a few were presentable.

Purple Sandpiper at Jetty Park, 1/4/2014

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This morning I drove out to Jetty Park in Brevard Co. hoping to find a Purple Sandpiper that was seen there recently.  I arrived a around 8:30, and for about a half-hour I looked in vain for the sandpiper.  But then I met another birder there who had just seen a Common Eider. So I diverted my attention for a while looking for that duck, since it would be  lifer.  I looked and looked but could not find it.  But then another birder friend came to my rescue.  She had a scope and located it for me.  In my binoculars it looked simply like a brown rock, but in the scope it was the Common Eider. That's my second lifer of 2014! After enjoying the Eider for a while, I returned to looking for the Purple Sandpiper.  I scoured the rocky jetty where it had been seen, but I it either wasn't there or was hidden from view.  And then a little after 10 am I saw it flying north across the river toward the jetty where others had seen it before  I couldn't tell where it had landed, but I walk…

Sparrows of Lust Rd, 1/1/2014

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Yesterday I drove out to Lust Rd., which is a road that takes you very close to Lake Apopka.  It actually can take you all the way to the lake, but at one point it's fenced off, preventing you from entering the restoration area.  But the road near the fence is a pretty great place to look for sparrows.  Yesterday I found 5 species and photographed four: Savannah , White-crowned, Vesper, Field and Grasshopper Sparrows.  The Field Sparrow is the first I've seen in Orange Co., and only the second I've seen in Florida. 
This is also the area where I found my first Western Tanager.  I see Blue-headed Vireos here frequently this time of year, but this is a species that seems rather adept at preventing me from getting good photos.  I usually end up with a cluttered background behind these birds whenever I get them in my sights.  Yesterday morning gave me my best photos so far, but I still have work to do. Hopefully I'll be able to improve on this before they leave us in the …

Western Tanager by Lake Apopka

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This morning my father and I drove out to Lake Apopka to see what we could find.  We drove down Lust Rd to the gate, and there I found my first Western Tanager!  It flew in for about 5 minutes and gave us a couple good looks.  Then it flew off to the north.  It did not appear to go far.  It's  thrilling to get my first lifer on January 1st.  Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come. Photography was tough this morning. The above photo was the best, but I'm including a couple photos below for ID shots, since they show the wing bars better: yellow on top, white on the bottom. My first lifer of 2014!