Showing posts from May, 2012

Red Knot with Head Deformity

This past weekend at Fort De Soto I was very pleased to find about 40 Red Knots feeding by the shore on North Beach.  There were a few Short-billed Dowiichers mixed in with the group, and there was this strange looking shorebird--it looked like a Red Knot with feathers that were a little too light and a bump on its head. After getting home, I zoomed in on my photos, and it became clear that this bird has a growth of some sort on its head.

I hope that this deformity is temporary that will heal over time, but it could also be a tumor.  The bird seemed to be acting normally and was not impeded by the deformity. Perhaps it will be okay.

Cooper's Hawk Family at Mead Gardens

There's a nest of Cooper's Hawks at Mead Gardens, and it's fun to see the two young ones out of the nest testing their wings in the tree. On Monday, we saw both adults with their young, and the female was feeding them in the nest.  At one point, one of the adults flew so close to me that I was able to get full frame photos of the bird--it's just too bad I couldn't get rid of a mildly cluttered background.

Fort De Soto, 5/27/2012

Yesterday I went to Fort de Soto.  It was a consolation prize for having to miss a pelagic trip due to Tropical Storm Beryl.  I successfully avoided the thunderstorms that were predicted for the morning and had a wonderful time.  There were too many highlights for one blogpost, but here are a few.  My favorite moment was seeing many Red Knots--a simply stunning shorebird.

It was also great to watch a Wilson's Plover search for food on the beach.  He caught something a couple times and showed it off to me.

Ruddy Turnstones and Dunlin were also there in their breeding plumage.  A Yellow-crowned Night Heron was out on the beach standing not 10 ft away from me.

It was also great to see a Sandwich tern, and there were many breeding Least Terns at North Beach.  They are extremely fun to watch.

Here's a list of the species I saw yesterday at Fort De Soto:
Redhead 3
Magnificent Frigatebird 8
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Anhinga 2
Brown Pelican 7
Great Blue Heron 4
Great Egret 5

Orlando Wetlands Park, 5/25/2012

I don't think I'll ever get tired of Orlando Wetlands Park, though this morning I tried. We decided to try an area I've never visited--the north-east quadrant north of Lake Searcy.  There's a trail there that goes to the northern edge of the park, and I thought it would be fun to walk the trail through the woods to observe a different kind of habitat. It became clear to me, though, as we approached the trail, that we were leaving the birds behind. And after walking the trail for a minute, I decided it was so muddy and mosquito-ridden to travel, so we decided to turn back.  This decision cost us perhaps an hour of good photography time.  The consolation prize, though, was the opportunity to observe a rookery of Cattle Egrets.  Easily 100 egrets were flying back and forth from a clump of trees gathering nesting material--a never ending line of Cattle Egrets with a mission.  One of these egrets found a branch with leaves that appeared to make him unable to see.

Once retu…

Wekiwa Springs State Park, 5/24/2012

This morning we opted for a little change of scenery, and we spent most of the morning mostly in the sandhill and inland scrub habitats at Wekiwa Springs State Park.  I found a bird I'd never seen before, a Bachman's Sparrow, and a couple others I haven't seen this year, including a Short-tailed Hawk and a Summer Tanager.  It's a little frustrating, though, since I didn't get any good photos of any of these species.

Nevertheless, it was good just to see/hear them (that feels a little like saying it was great just being nominated), and there were several other species there that were really fun to find and photograph.  Wild Turkeys, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Towhees and Red-headed Woodpeckers were all there, and there were some nice occasions to photograph each of them.

Here's a list of species we saw this morning:
Wild Turkey 6
Little Blue Heron 1
Cattle Egret 1
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Swallow-tailed Kite 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Short-tailed Hawk 1

Merritt Island 5/23/2012

This morning I returned again to Merritt Island to see what we hadn't seen yesterday. We went to Pumphouse Loop Bio Lab Rd, Scrub Ridge Trail and the visitors center.  Pumphouse Loop was hardly worth mentioning but I did find a Green Heron that sat still very nicely for me and let me take its picture.

Bio Lab Rd was much more fun.  We decided that we should start from the south and work our way north.  Right off the bat we saw two Bobcats, and I was able to take my best photographs of this wonderful animal.  Then we were treated to a Great Blue Heron killing and swallowing what I believe is a Southern Water Snake.  We saw several species of shorebirds including Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, many Black-necked Stilts, a Stilt Sandpiper, a Spotted Sandpiper, and a Ruddy Turnstone.  We also saw many Semipalmated Sandpipers and a couple Western Sandpipers.  On the north end of the road, we saw a Bald Eagle catch a fish and take to its perch.

We returned to Scrub Ridge trail for some …

Merritt Island, 5/22/2012

This morning I went to Merritt Island, and I had a pretty good morning.  We saw next to nothing at the Max Brewer Causeway, but from there we went to East Gator Creek and things started to pick up.   It was nice to see a Least Tern, and I never tire of photographing Black-necked Stilts and Reddish Egrets.

From there we went to Blackpoint Drive.  Easily the biggest highlight of the morning was seeing three Common Nighthawks chasing each other.  They were so fast, and we were in a car unable to follow them as they flew, so I have blurry photos of them up close, and relatively sharp images of them far away.  There were many Black-necked Stilts at their nests, and one Reddish Egret came a little too close to one, causing the stilts to jump into action to defend their nest--it was pretty fun to watch.  It was also nice to see a Semipalmated Plover up close walking on Blackpoint Drive. By the restrooms two immature Green Herons were out on the mangroves attracting the attention of all tha…

Orlando Wetlands Park, 5/21/2012

This morning I went to Orlando Wetlands Park again and had a pretty good morning.  The biggest highlight was seeing 10 Least Bitterns in the park--that's easily a record for me.  I think my previous record was 6. Some of them were obviously paired, which was also fun to see.

Several Barn Swallows were out, and they are extremely difficult to photograph.  But about four of them decided to perch and pose for us.
Several Snowy Egrets were out fishing, and I suppose we could have watched them do so all day.  I love watching them fly low over the water and pick up fish of the surface mid-flight.
A Crested Caracara was perched where I'd never seen one before.  I normally see them on the Birding Loop, but this one was northwest of it.
I think that Little Blue Herons are most interesting when they are in the process of getting their adult plumage.  There are several in the park that look like this.
I also had fun with takeoffs and landings. I photographed a  Red-shouldered Hawk and a…