Showing posts from September, 2012

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Herons were the last North American heron I found. In fact, as an beginning birder, they were my "nemesis bird." Since then, I've learned where to find them.  They are pretty consistently at Orlando Wetlands Park during certain times of the year, and lately I've seen them at Merritt Island and Fort De Soto as well. I think they're cool-looking herons.  To me it seems their head is too big for their neck.  Juveniles look very different from adults (all brown), and when they're juveniles they can be more easily confused with Black-crowned Night Herons and even American Bitterns.  But juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons have an all black bill and white spots on their wings.

Mead Gardens and Central Winds, 9/29/2012

This morning I went to Mead Gardens to participate in the Orange Audubon Society's bird walk.  They put one together every spring and fall during migration times.  I only had about 45 minutes to be with them, but about 5 minutes of my time there made it entirely worth while.  We found a Canada Warbler--a beautiful male.  Most of us had a pretty good look at it, but it was pretty far away, so my photo isn't as great as I would like (the head's a little blurry).  But it's a life bird for me, and it may well be years before I see one again.

I picked up my son and we went to Central Winds so he could exercise (he's preparing for a 5k race next week).  I walked around the park to see what I could find.  We found nothing extraordinary.  The best find was a Chestnut-sided Warbler.  Other warblers we saw were Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler.

American Kestrel v. Red-shouldered Hawk

This morning I returned to Central Winds and found an American Kestrel at the top of a goal post in the football field.  On the other end of the field was another goal post, and a Red-shouldered Hawk was occupying one side of the goal post.

As you can clearly see, this goal post is vastly superior to the one occupied by the Kestrel, so the Kestrel was obligated to take it for herself.  It had to be the side on which the hawk was perched, though.  The other side of this post just won't do.

So this is a dilemma.  What to do?  The hawk is much bigger than the kestrel, but that doesn't stop the kestrel from making a royal pest of herself.  She swooped the hawk several times until she finally succeeded in making it fly away.  Then she took the post for itself.  I saw this kestrel (I think it's the same one) do the exact same thing to an Osprey about a week ago.  You have to appreciate a bird that knows what she wants.

Great Blue Heron (White Form)

In south Florida, you can find this strange looking heron.  It looks like a Great Blue Heron that stole all its feathers from a Great Egret.  In fact, it's the white form of a Great Blue Heron, which some people call a Great White Heron.  This bird only occasionally comes as far north as Central Florida, and I've only seen them at Merritt Island, but one time the bird posed for me quite nicely.

Great Blue Heron

I confess I rarely go out hoping to photograph Great Blue Herons.  I'm usually looking for other birds and just happen to find these in a good position for a photograph.  They really are more more beautiful than the attention I give them.  Thankfully they are common enough that I still end up with lots of photographs of these birds.

Reddish Egret (White Morph)

Reddish Egrets come in two wonderful varieties, a dark morph and a white morph, both with equal amounts of spunk.  White morphs are a little harder to find, so they are extra special to see.  They may at first look a little like Great Egrets, but Great Egrets have a mostly yellow bill, while there's no yellow on a Reddish Egret bill.  Great Egrets also have black legs, and Reddish Egrets do not. I love seeing these guys in full breeding plumage with blue lores, bill and legs.

Reddish Egret (Dark Morph)

Reddish Egrets are probably my favorite egret.  Not only are they beautiful and rare (compared to other herons and egrets), they got spunk.  They are incredibly fun to watch as they look for food.  They dart around and then spread their wings out as they prepare to capture a fish in the water.  There are two morphs of Reddish Egrets.  The dark morph (pictured here) is reddish in color.  The reddish color is one of the easiest ways to tell them from other herons and egrets.  Only the Little Blue Heron can have coloration approaching anything near what you see in Reddish Egrets. But Reddish Egrets are more red and have a more "shaggy" and stern look to them than Little Blue Herons.

Central Winds Park, 9/25/2012

I had a great morning at Central Winds today. In about an hour, I found 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, which I haven't seen before in Seminole County, and 1 Orchard Oriole, which I've never seen before in Florida. Unfortunately I got no photos of the Orchard Oriole, but it was a beautiful adult male.  Another highlight was a Swainson's Thrush, which is my first for the park. Palm Warblers are returning to the park, but Yellow-throated Warblers are still commonly seen, as were American Redstarts, Northern Parula, Ovenbirds, Prairie Warlbers, and one Tennessee Warbler.

Mead Gardens, 9/24/2012

This morning before work I decided to drop by Mead Gardens.  It's a little farther away than Central Winds, but that park has cooled off considerably over the last few days, while people have been reporting some nice sightings at Mead Gardens.  While I didn't see all of what had been seen over the weekend, I still had a pretty good hour there, and I found a few species I haven't seen in the park for a while.  I found six warblers species: Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Black and White, Blackburnian (my first in the park), Prairie, and a Black-throated Blue.  It was also nice to see an Acadian Flycatcher and a Veery there. I continue to be impressed at how well the 7D can perform in relatively even lighting at high ISOs.  The above shot was taken at ISO 4000.  If you zoom in, there's noticeable grain, but the bird was close enough that it took up a fair amount of the frame, so you don't notice it as much.

And now I finally have a Black-throated Blue Warble…

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawks are our most common hawks, seen all year round in just about any park I go to.  It's more uncommon not to see one than to see one.  I've seen them with snakes, frogs, insects, voles, small ducks, squirrels, Blue Jay chicks and even a Pileated Woodpecker fledgling.  They're pretty fantastic bird to watch. The easiest way to recognize them, other than the red patches on their shoulders, is white "window pain" patch near the end of their wings visible in flight.