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Showing posts from March, 2014

Payne's Prairie La Chua Trail, 3/21/2014

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Every year in March I make a trip from my home in Central Florida to a conference in Dothan, Alabama. It's a perfect opportunity for me to get up early and visit Payne's Prairie, La Chua Trail just south of Gainesville. So Friday morning I left before 6am to arrive at La Chua Trail before 8:30am.  I was hoping for some fun sparrows, but it's getting a little late in the year, I think, and it was a little windy. But I did get my best photos of White-crowned Sparrows in Florida, as well as a few others.

There were also plenty of wading birds. One Snowy Egret was particularly photogenic, and an American Bittern came out in the open to at least get to see most of him, even though surrounded by grasses.  There were several Black-crowned Night Herons here too, some immature.  The immature below I found quite interesting. It kept its head raised and neck extended the whole time I watched it, much like Yellow-crowned Night Herons do.  However, all the field marks were consistent …

A Foggy Morning

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This past weekend I went out with a friend to a marshy area near Dothan, AL. It was a beautiful marsh, and there many birds singing.  But as the morning dawned, fog moved into the area. As we walked back to the car, this scene struck me.  Thankfully I had my point and shoot camera with me, allowing me to get a couple shots.

Huntington Central Park, 3/19/2014

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When we were in L.A. last week, we took a little time to visit Huntington Central Park.  I'd checked eBird and found that over 300 species have been recorded in this one little park. That's simply amazing to me!  The park reminded me of Central Winds, which is one of my favorite birding spots in my home county, though only 162 species have been recorded there. In fact, fewer than 270 species have been recorded in my whole county.  However, this park is near the beach, and it's in Southern California.  I had a wonderful time, and if I lived nearby, I suspect I'd need to be there at least once per week. The Nuttall's Woodpeckers I saw making more Nuttall's Woodpeckers were lifers for me.

There were a few Western Bluebirds here too--I haven't seen these since I was a kid living in Concord, CA. I was pretty struck again by how beautiful these birds are, especially the males.  Our eastern variety is more patriotic, but I still think I'm partial to the weste…

Anna's Hummingbird

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I was in San Diego yesterday, though I'm not here for birding.  I did, however, take my camera out to the parking lot to see what might be there. There was a hill behind the parking lot with lots of shrubby wonder, and birds were singing.  There were several species there that I don't get to see in FL: California Towhee and Lesser Goldfinch were both lifers for me, and a Western Gull flew over, which I haven't seen since I was a child.  But I think I was most impressed by the pair of Anna's Hummingbirds that were there (which I've only seen once before), very active around the parking lot where there were suitable flowers blooming.  At one point a male perched not too far from me, giving me perhaps my best photos of any hummingbird, let alone this species.  I saw the female (or maybe it was a youngster) several times, but it wasn't nearly as cooperative.  I did get one photo of it sticking its tongue out at me.

Econ River WA, 3/16/2014

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This morning my father and I drove out to the Econ River Wilderness Area, and we had a pretty great time. We arrived a little after 7am, so it was not quite light out.  But a couple Eastern Bluebirds landed in a tree in front of us.  They were (about to be) backlit by the sun, so I decided it might be fun to try a silhouette shot of one of the bluebirds.  A little while later, one perched in better light.

We also saw about 8 Carolina Chickadees; most of them were pretty close together, associating with each other. One individual was pretty bold, and it sometimes perched too close for my lens to focus; it forced me to back up a step. It also seemed to have a giant head and white edging of the secondaries, similar to Black-capped Chickadees, though they don't come down this far south.  I actually live near the southern border of the range for Carolina Chickadees. I suspect the white edging on the secondaries has more to do with the lighting of the bird when I took the photo.

And it…

Spring Hammock Preserve

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This week has been pretty fun for migrants.  A Red-eyed Vireo showed up about 2 weeks early, and there were 3 Louisiana Waterthrushes and 2 Hermit Thrushes, though none posed well for photos. Other more common birds were more cooperative, including many Carolina Wrens, Northern Parula, and Barred Owls. For some reason, this is the first Barred Owl I've seen here.  It was pretty dark, so I had to photograph the owl at 6400 ISO, which I normally avoid like the plague (really, any thing over 1600 I try to avoid).  But there was no blue in the frame, and it was pretty much the only way I could get the shot, so I tried it. I certainly won't be printing these, but I was pretty impressed with how my Canon 7D handled the noise.

Eastern Phoebe at Central Winds Park

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I saw my first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year this year; that's usually a good sign that Eastern Phoebes are going to start packing up to leave. I suspect by the end of March, they'll all be gone.  So a few days ago I photographed an Eastern Phoebe at Central  Winds Park. I'm going to be a little sad to see them go.

Forster's Tern on Lake Monroe

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A couple weeks ago I was at the marina on Lake Monroe looking for (and not finding) a Royal Tern that had been seen there earlier. So I occupied my time photographing other terns.  I shared photos of Caspian Terns in another post, but there were also Forster's Terns patrolling the marina area. Most of them still had light heads and dark eye patches, but this one has progressed pretty far toward breeding plumage. So I concentrated on this particular individual, with a nearly all black cap and a deeply forked tail (at least on one side).

If you're not familiar with Forster's Terns, here's one in it's basic/winter plumage. As you can see, their looks change a bit this time of year.

By the way, the Royal Tern did show up there a few days later, though it did not cooperate very well for photos. It spent it's time on the seawall east of the marina, too distant (and too cluttered) for good photos. But here's the photo I used to document the sighting on eBird.


Merritt Island & Orlando Wetlands Park, 3/8/2014

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I had a pretty fun time at Merritt Island this morning. I saw a Horned Grebe at the causeway and then went to Blackpoint Dr.  There was a significant number of shorebirds there: lots of American Avocets, Dunlin and Least Sandpipers, quite a few Black-bellied Plovers, and a few distant dowitchers and Red Knots. There were far fewer species of ducks than is normal this time of year: Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, and four Red-breasted Mergansers.

On the south side of the main road (west of the turnoff to Blackpoint Dr), there was a large number of wading birds, shorebirds and pelicans.  At one point, a group of them flew, containing the most interesting species in the group.  If I've counted right, this photo shows 11 Marbled Godwits, 5 American Avocets, 3 Dunlin and 1 Willet, though there were more of each species in the water.

The visitor's center was also fun.  Painted Buntings are always nice to see, even at a feeder, and I also saw my first White-throat…