Showing posts from April, 2012

Mead Gardens, 4/30/2012

We had some rain last night--I don't know how much, but I was hoping it might be enough bring in some migrants to Mead Gardens, so this morning I got there early just to see what birds may have dropped by.  I didn't stay long, since it seems I have to earn a living too.  But I took a tour of the area, and it was a pretty slow morning.  I did have one big highlight though.  I found one Blue Grosbeak on the boardwalk.  I think this is a female. The bird was pretty far away so I did the best I could.

It was also nice to see some House Finches, a few of which came close enough for photographs.  I only saw one warbler--a Worm-eating Warbler flashed its head at me and then was gone. 

There also were some rather ordinary species that nevertheless seemed rather photogeneic, so I shot a few photos of them as well.

Northern Parula

I suppose it's not hard to guess why the Northern Parula is one of my favorite warblers--they're beautiful warblers. They numerous here this time of year, and they seem all too willing to let you know it.  Their beautiful calls always grab my attention.  But I also like the challenge the present me.  They usually stay high in trees, often where there's spanish moss, where they taunt me with their beautiful voices, and they're pretty small.  So they present a photographic challenge to me that I enjoy.  It's not often I get presentable photos of them, though I do try on occasion.  I need one willing to come down from the upper canopy to mingle with a commoner like me.

Mead Gardens, 4/28/2012

This morning I returned again to Mead Gardens with the great people at the Orange Audubon Society.  Compared to earlier in the week, this morning was rather quiet, but we still came away with some good finds and an enjoyable time.  The Yellow-billed Cuckoo and the female Painted Bunting were both seen again today.

It was nice to see seven species of warbler: Ovenbird, Worm-eating, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula and Black-throated Blue.  I've been on a quest to get a good photo of Worm-eating and Black-throated Blue warblers, and while I have not yet reached my goal. I never tire of photographing Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  We found one that must have lost its keys, and he was looking for them quite frantically.

And finally, there were some other wildlife besides birds that I found interesting, and not just because they make good bird food.

Here's a list of the species we saw this morning.

Wood Duck 4
Mallard hybrid 3
Great Blue Heron 2

Mead Gardens, 4/27/2012

This morning I went to Mead Gardens again, and while I could only be there for a little over an hour, I had a great time.  The highlight of my morning was certainly seeing female Painted Bunting, the first I've seen there and the first I've seen this year.  I also found at least one (maybe two) Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and these are the first I've seen this year as well. I put the sightings on my Mead Garden "birdmap" if you're interested in seeing where they were.

Other sightings were pretty much the ordinary things I've been seeing in the park.  It was fun, however, to meet a couple people in person that I've only interacted with before on blogs and social networks.  Birders can be really great people.  Here's a list of species I found at Mead Gardens this morning:

Anhinga 1
Great Blue Heron 1
White Ibis 8
Osprey 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 3
Mourning Dove X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Great Crested Flyca…

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Yesterday afternoon my son had a appointment in a little office park with two lakes surrounding the complex.  I decided to walk around the complex to see what I could find.  I didn't find anything unusual, but I did find a tree with two Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and a Northern Parula actively feeding.  They seemed unconcerned with me.  Some times the Gnatcatchers would fly within feet of my head to catch bugs and then return to the tree.  I got some of my favorite pictures of the gnatcatchers all within a span of about 15 minutes.  I got photos of the parula too, but I'll save them for a later post.

These photos were taken in a mostly shaded tree, so my shutter speeds were quite slow, ranging from 1/80sec to 1/320sec or so.  With a 400mm lens non image stabilized lens and a moving subject, this means there's a high degree of likelihood that my photos will not be sharp.  A tripod can't help much here, since they can't stop the gnatcatchers from dancing around the tree…

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilts are one of my top three shorebirds (the others being avocets and oystercatchers).  The first time I saw one these I was mesmerized. Even though it was a long way off, I took perhaps 100 pictures of it in the hopes that just one turned out.  Since then I've seen them plenty of times when they've been relatively close.   A couple weeks ago I was at Merritt Island, and a couple were pretty close to shore  They didn't seem to mind me one bit crouched down on the shore shooting off hundreds of photos.  It's my favorite place to go to find this wonderful bird.

Earlier in the year, I saw one flying over Orlando Wetlands Park, where they're a little more unusual to find.  I doubt it ever landed in the park, but it flew by close enough to get one of my favorites of the bird in flight.

These birds can be an exposure challenge. At first glance, they appear to be all black and white, and that in itself is a challenge, since you run the risk of losing detai…

Birdmap of Mead Gardens

The other day I had an idea.  I go to many places for birding and bird photography, and some of you have emailed me letting me know that my posts have given you new places to visit.  I also know some of you visit the same places I do, so you're bound to see wildlife I haven't seen in the same parks.  I thought it might be fun to create a forum for us to share our sightings with each other.  I decided it would be good to create a "birdmap" of the parks I visit frequently.  I thought I'd begin with Mead Gardens, since it's a relatively small park, and I've been visiting it very frequently during spring migration. I put spots that have been particularly good in recent days in yellow.

View Mead Gardens in a larger map

It probably goes without saying that this kind of map is approximate at best.  Not only do birds move about during the day but migrant birds may come and then leave, never to be seen again until the fall or following spring.  That said, this sho…

Mead Gardens, 4/24/2012

This morning I had to go pick up my pool pump at the repair shop, but, rather than going to Lake Lilly again, I decided to drive a little farther and go to Mead Gardens.  This is dangerous business, though, since I only had about an hour to be there before the repair shop opened, and then I had to go to work.  It's awful hard to leave Mead Gardens after only an hour.  Things started kind of slow, but about 15 minutes before I had to go, things started to really pick up around the Azalea bushes.  There I saw several American Redstarts, one Prairie Warbler, one Cape May Warbler, and about 3 Northern Parula. I also saw at least one (probably 2) Swainson's Thrush there. By the shore I found one Common Yellowthroat and a couple Great Crested Flycatchers.  They were very active, and about the time I turned to leave, they were feeding on insects.  I didn't have time to photograph them with their prey in their mouths; unfortunately, I had to go pick up my pool pump and earn a liv…

Lake Lilly, 4/23/2012

This morning I had to drop off my pool pump to a repair shop, but I got to the shop before they opened.  I was near a lake in Maitland called Lake Lilly, so I decided to walk around the lake to see what I might find until the shop opened at 8am.  For me, the biggest highlights were the Limpkin at the shore and the Tufted Titmice that were in the trees around the lake.  I watched the Limpkin open a shell and extract its meat, and the titmice were very good at putting on a nice little show in the trees.

But the lake also capitalized in cuteness this morning.  The lake had many Muscovy Ducks with many cute little ducklings, and there was a nice little bunny there that let me get pretty close to take its portrait.  I figured with all this cuteness, I'd let the all-time expert on cuteness, in my six-year old daughter, give her thoughts on what follows.

Julianna likes its black and yellow feathers, and she likes its eyes and beak, because they are cute.  She likes its feet because they…

Quality of Light

Friday morning I was at my office and I saw a couple Snowy Egrets at the pond by the parking lot.  As I was watching one, it decided to fly over the water and grab a fish off the surface of the water.  As it went, it flew in and out of sunlight.  At 8am, the sun was fairly low in the sky, creating a pleasing color to the egrets wings.  When the egret was in the shade, I had no complaints, but a little bit a sunlight makes a pretty big difference.  Here's some photos of the egret in changing light as it flew across the pond.