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Showing posts from May, 2017

Distinguishing Cave and Cliff Swallows

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There's at least one Cave Swallow that has been hanging out at Lake Apopka for at least the past three weeks. It looks like it's trying to build a nest under a bridge, which would be really cool, especially if there's a second around. And not too far away, at a bridge over Rte 50, there have been Cliff Swallows breeding there for at least the past few years. 

These two species look pretty similar, so I thought it would be fun to make a post highlighting how you can tell the two species apart, especially in flight. Now most Cliff Swallows in the U.S. have largely whitish foreheads. However occasionally you can find the "Mexican" race, which has a dark forehead, and It think the "Mexican" race looks a bit more like a Cave Swallow. But if you get a good look at the face, It think it's not too difficult to tell them apart.

Cliff Swallows have much darker cheeks and throats, and so there's a large amount of contrast between the throat and breast. Cav…

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Lookalikes

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When I was in Costa Rica, I saw lots of flycatcher. I couldn't believe how many flycatchers I saw. There are three, though, that look very similar--Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Streaked Flycatchers, and Pirated Flycatchers.  Sulphur-bellied have been seen in Florida on very rare occasions, and I believe Pirated have as well. These three flycatchers seem to be pretty common in Costa Rica, though. I saw Streaked Flycatchers the most. 


Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers have nearly all-black bills and a large black malar area. Streaked Flycatchers have a lot more pink on the bill and not nearly as much black in the malar area. By malar area, I mean basically the sides of the chin area.

Piratic Flycatchers are smaller, and they have proportionately small bills, making them far easier to separate from the other two, but they still look pretty similar.

Bahama Woodstar at Maritime Hammock, 5/16/2017

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So I was planning to spend the next several posts sharing photos from Costa Rica, but a couple days ago, a Bahama Woodstar was found in Maritime Hammock in Brevard Co. So after work I took a drive to see if I could find the bird. When I arrived, there were birders there from all over the state and even some from around the country. I had to wait about 10 minutes before the Woodstar showed up. It gave us wonderful views for about 5 minutes or so, and then it flew off. I waited another hour or so for the bird to show up again, but it never did. Still, those 5 minutes were wonderful!


Great Kiskadee and Lookalikes

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Everytime I go to Mexico I love seeing Great Kiskadees. They're beautiful birds, and they're always calling, it seems, so you always know they're around. But there are other species of flycatchers that look very much like them. The Social Flycatcher has a smaller bill and a slightly different facial pattern. I've seen those in Mexico a lot too. Boat-billed Flycatchers have much larger bills, and I saw my first in Costa Rica this past May (I've been wanting to do a post like this for some time, but I've wanted to wait until I actually saw a Boat-billed Flycatcher. And there's one more I can add here, the Gray-capped Flycatcher. This flycatcher has a grayer head, so it's a bit easier to separate from the others, but still, they look pretty similar.


Interestingly, only the Gray-capped and Social Flycatchers belong to the same genus. The other two are in different genera. And yet Social Flycatchers are far more easy to distinguish from Gray-capped then th…

Slideshow of Costa Rica Wildlife

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During the first week of May my wife and I went to Costa Rica for our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful time! I spent most of the mornings out in the local parks looking for wildlife. The nice thing is that the sun comes up around 5:30am, which gives me plenty of time to be out in nature before my wife wants to think about getting up. Over the course of the week, I saw 152 species, and 103 of them were completely new to me. I decided to put together a slide show of some of my favorite photos. I hope you enjoy it.  I'll follow up with more photographs in future posts.

Cave Swallow at Lake Apopka, 4/28.2017

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On the morning of April 28th, I drove the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive and found my first Cave Swallow for Orange County. In fact, it appears to be the first Cave Swallow reported on eBird in the county, though I'm quite certain others have seen them here. I almost missed this guy. It flew by me and I noticed the pale rump and squared tale. I thought it was going to be a Cliff Swallow until I got closer looks and saw those pale auriculars and throat. I'm pretty pumped!

White Peacock

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At Wirz Park there were several White Peacock butterflies. I have dozens of dorsal views of these butterflies, so I thought it might be fun to try a different angle on this one. It lighted facing the sun, so I decided to look straight at it and photograph it from the front. I thought the results were somewhat interesting.