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Showing posts from December, 2015

Vermilion Flycatcher at Little Big Econ WMA, 12/31/2015

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A few days ago, a Vermilion Flycatcher was found along the Little Big Econ River, very close to where it meets with the St. Johns River. This morning I decided to walk the Kilbee Tract of the Little Big Econ WMA to see if I could find it. It was a pretty easy walk to get to the spot.  This particular individual is a female, and I have no photos of females. This bird was also my first for Seminole County. It's such a fantastic bird.

After finding the flycatcher I decided to walk the shore of the Little Big Econ to look at the St. Johns. Unfortunately, there's a fence prohibiting you from doing that. However, just walking the grassy and muddy areas next to the Econ was pretty wonderful. There were 23 Black-bellied Plovers, 4 Long-billed Dowitchers and an assortment of both species of yellowlegs.  Other highlights were about 30 American Pipits and a "Krider's" Red-tailed Hawk.

You can see my full eBird checklist here. I had 71 species on the morning. Here's th…

Bronzed Cowbirds in La Carreta Parking Lot, 12/27/2015

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After finding our Burrowing Owls, we drove down to Miami-Dade County and stopped at a La Carreta Cuban Restaurant.  We didn't go for the food, though I would have loved to have tried the food there (I love Cuban food). We went to find cowbirds in the parking lot.  It wasn't long before we started finding them everywhere, usually hiding under the cars behind the restaurant.  At one point, two perched up on top of a car. Those were probably my best pictures, even if their setting is anything but natural. The sun captured the purple iridescence of one pretty well.

Here's my eBird checklist for the the La Carreta parking lot. The only other bird of any interest we saw here was a Monk Parakeet.

Burrowing Owl at Brian Piccolo Park, 12/27/2015

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My father and I just returned from a 3 day excursion through South Florida in search of birds we've never seen before.  We had a very successful trip.  We found 104 species over the three days, including 6 species I've never seen in Florida: Neotropic Cormorant, Western Spindalis (lifer), Egyptian Goose, Bronzed Cowbird, Red-wiskered Bulbul (lifer), and Western Grebe. We also had 2 currently non-countable species we've never seen before: Scaly-breasted Munia and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet.  I also added two birds to my year list: Nashville Warbler and Burrowing Owl.

I don't normally give away locations of nests or owl locations; however, these owls are well-known and their nests are clearly marked with yellow tape to encourage visitors to stay a safe distance away. It's the strangest thing: Brian Piccolo Park is a community park with baseball and soccer fields, and these owls are nesting right next to the parking lots in the park.  We drove in and almost immediatel…

Merritt Island NWR, 12/12/2015

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This past Saturday I decided to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I haven't been here in forever. I've spent most of my time in Orange and Seminole Counties, so it was very nice to return to MINWR. I was hoping to add some birds to my year list and collect some better photographs of birds that are around here this time of year.

Shiloh Marsh
I began at sunrise at Shiloh Marsh, hoping for Clapper Rails and Sharp-tailed Sparrows; they're very common here this time of year, and you're pretty sure to see them if you get out on the marsh as the sun is rising.  I saw all three species, but I was only able to photograph Saltmarsh Sparrows; I only saw one Nelson's Sparrow, and it was being too uncooperative.

I couldn't believe how many Saltmarsh Sparrows there were, though.  My conservative estimate is 8 (they move under cover so well, it's possible that I saw the same bird pop up in two places, so I was pretty conservative). With just a little pishin…

Clay-colored Sparrow on Canal St, 12/8/2015

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On Dec 8, I found one of my nemesis birds for Seminole County: a Clay-colored Sparrow (White-throated Sparrow, Western Kingbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat are next on my list). I've been trying to find one here for years. It's been hanging out here for about a week now, so I'm hopeful that it might winter here (along with a Field Sparrow, also somewhat unusual in Central Florida).

My favorite sparrow spot is really just a fence line with lots of dense vegetation around it bordering a cow pasture. It's not a park; it's really just a little spot along the side of the road. I sometimes worry about the local residents being irritated by my presence. However, the "locals" don't seem to mind me at all, and sometimes they stop and chat for a minute as they drive by. On the day I found the sparrow, I was hoping to photograph an Ash-throated Flycatcher that my friend had found just a couple days earlier. I was striking out on that bird when this little sparro…