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Showing posts from May, 2014

American Kestrel (Southeastern Subspecies)

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American Kestrels are pretty common in the U.S., and here in Florida, we get to enjoy them in significant numbers throughout the winter months, but beginning in March or April, most of our Kestrels leave us.  But there are some that stay with us all year round. The southeastern subspecies (Falco sparverius paulus) of American Kestrel is mostly found in Florida and a few of its neighboring states.  It's smaller, and males generally have fewer spots on its belly and flanks.  But since there's significant amount of variation in spotting, it is generally not reliable to identify subspecies in Florida during the months when both subspecies are present.

I found a couple Kestrels copulating at an electrical substation near my home in December last year.  The male had a very plain belly, which is a good sign.  I've seen this couple a few times since then, but now it's May and all our "northern" Kestrels are gone. So today when I found four of them here I was pretty …

Hal Scott Preserve, 5/24/2014

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Well, third time's a charm it seems. Today I made my third visit to Hal Scott Preserve (I went twice in the summer of 2013 and then today).  This is the one park I know of where Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found in Orange County, but until today I haven't been able to find them here.  I've seen lots of trees with white rings around them (indicating that at some point in time there has been a nest in the tree), but never any sight or sound of them.  Until today, when I took a different route and got lucky I suppose.  I found a pair of them together.  One of them was pretty perturbed with a Downy Woodpecker.  The Downy just seem like it had to be working the same tree with it, but every once in a while the Red-cockaded Woodpecker would chase off the Downy.  It was pretty fun to watch.  I just stood in one spot, and the woodpeckers were so interested in each other they didn't seem to mind me at all.

There were other species I was hoping to get on my Orange County yea…

Marl Bed Flats, 5/22/2014

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Yesterday morning I visited Marl Bed Flats again.  I'm pretty amazed at how good this place has been in May.  It's given me several Seminole County firsts, including a Short-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and now a Semipalmated Plover. Black-necked Stilts are still here, though in much smaller numbers; now only about 4 remain (out of over 40 in April). I've seen 12 species of shorebirds here over the last week--I'm not sure what it is about this inland location that's attractive to them, but I'm not complaining.

And strangely enough there's also at least one Savannah Sparrow still here.  It's three weeks late in leaving us. As best I can tell it's healthy, so it's really puzzling to me. Maybe it wants to stay for the June Challenge, but I suspect that's too much to hope for.

Lower Wekiva River Preserve, 5/16/2014

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I had high hopes this morning.  Back in January I'd seen at least 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers in this park, and I was hoping some would stick around to breed.  I had also learned that recently there was a controlled burn, so I was hoping this might attract some new species, like Hairy Woodpeckers.  However, I struck out on both counts. I still think Red-headed Woodpeckers may be around; it's a very big park with lots of places for them to nest, so perhaps if I try a few different routes I may find one. But the one cavity they excavated has been taken over by Great Crested Flycatchers. I found only the normal species that I usually find here.

  I visited the area where there was a Bachman's Sparrow nest last year, and found them again not too far away from where there had nested a year ago. And I did have fun watching a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher with a tasty meal.  But I suppose the biggest highlight was seeing a few Halloween Pennants, one of which posed nicely for me and gave…

Stilt Sandpiper at Marl Bed Flats

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Yesterday a friend and I returned to Marl Bed Flats in search of shorebirds.  We didn't find anything new, but we were able to get photos of the Stilt Sandpiper I'd seen a few days earlier.  It was pretty fun to find it again. It was in nice breeding plumage, and spent its time associating with a Greater Yellowlegs.

In other news, we heard a pair of King Rails in the same area, allowing us to record a probable breeding pair for the Breeding Bird Atlas II.

Northern Parula at Central Winds

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On Friday I visited Central Winds Park.  Migration is winding down, but Northern Parula are singing throughout the park. Breeding has begun! One singing male posed nicely for photos; I suspect these are some of my best photos of the species.

I was also surprised to see a young fledgling flying/hopping from tree branch to tree branch.  It seems to me this is a little early to have fledglings out and and about. This little guy is still without all his flight feathers.  He was able to fly short distances. I watched him for a few minutes but despite lots of begging calls I never saw a parent come to feed him.

Unfortunately, though, he was in a very shady area, so I had to shoot at 6400 ISO handheld without a flash--not the most ideal situation with my camera.

Marl Bed Flats, 5/5/2014

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I had a great morning at Marl Bed Flats today.  I found two Seminole County life birds: Semipalmated Sandpiper and Stilt Sandpiper. Of course, these birds aren't all that unusual along the coast, but inland they're a little more uncommon.  I've been keeping an eye out for both species this year, hoping they would turn up, but I didn't expect I'd see both in one day. Neither species was all that photogenic though, and other species were much more cooperative.

Bobolinks and Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere, particularly Bobolinks. I estimated that there were 150 of them there.

There were about 8 Roseate Spoonbills, and these were the first I've seen this year in Seminole County.
One of the Semipalmated Sandpipers did pose for a photo briefly along with a Least Sandpiper in the background.