Showing posts from February, 2013

Brown Thrasher with a Prize

The other day I drove into the parking lot of my work to find this thrasher as it found a prize  It was out only for about a minute before it went back in the brush, but I had my camera ready for a few photos.  They're not the prettiest birds, but I'm always glad to find one.

Lake Emma Rd, 2/27/2013

This afternoon I dropped by a little retention pond on Lake Emma Rd.  The pond has shallow water right now, and it's been really good for shorebirds and ducks.  Today I found two Green-winged Teal in the pond and a Black-necked Stilt.  The stilt really surprised me.  I've been seeing Least Sandpipers, both Yellowlegs and Wilson's Snipe here, but I did not expect the stilt at all. Both of these birds were the first I've seen in Seminole County.

I was here a couple days ago and found a Swallow-tailed Kite, which is the first I've seen of the year.  It's funny how good a small, unattractive pond can be.

American Goldfinch

This morning I dropped by an open field near Jay Blanchard Park.  The field used to be a horse farm, though the property is owned by the church I attend.  The horse farm is gone, but the fields are still there, and I thought I'd see what may be there.  I was only there for about 20 minutes, but it was pretty fun.  I saw nothing out of the ordinary (about 24 species), but it looks like there may be good habitat thee for sparrows and buntings. Last summer I often saw Swallow-tailed Kites roosting in a tree in these fields. This morning my biggest photographic highlight was seeing an American Goldfinch perch in a tree near me. I think it's fun that he's starting to get the yellow face and black cap of his breeding plumage. I had to manual focus for these images.  My autofocus quit working this morning, but when I returned to the car, I removed my lens, grabbed my lens cloth and wiped down the contacts, and all is fine.  Anyway, thankfully a good number of my goldfinch photos…

Monroe Run in Grantsville, MD

Our family used to vacation in Western Maryland every August.  In 2009, I found a trail in the Savage River State Forest following a stream called Monroe Run.  At the time, I don't think I cared too much for these photos, and I never did anything with them.  I wanted bigger and better waterfalls and clearer skies I guess.  But now that I live in the land of flatness, I'm somewhat drawn to them, so I figured I'd share them with you.

Burke Lake Sunrise

Lately I've been trying to clean up my Lightroom database of images.  I've been going through photos that I've taken years ago but never did anything with.  This one caught my eye.  This is from Burke Lake in Northern Virginia near where I grew up.  I used to fish here, and I used to run around this lake for cross-country training. I took this photo in December 2009.

Long-billed Curlew with Crabs

Long-billed Curlews are crazy awesome birds.  It's pretty amazing to see them at work.  They can get those bills down pretty far into the sand in search of crabs and other food.  I found this one at Fort De Soto yesterday.  It was actively probing the sand, and I saw it catch at least two crabs.  If I found nothing else in the park than this, it would have been a good day.

Fort De Soto and Area, 2/24/2013

I had plans to find a Seaside Sparrow this morning, but those were foiled by the weather.  The morning was foggy, rainy, and windy where I was going to look.  So I had a last minute change of plans.  I drove down to the Skyway Fishing Pier and found the Black-legged Kittiwake that has been seen there--a lifer for me.
Then I went to Fort De Soto, which is only about 25 minutes away.  I love this place.  On the way I saw a Nanday Parakeet, and once in the park, it was fun to see a mixed flock of gulls and shorebirds, and also this Red-breasted Merganser. Also seen here were Royal, Forster's and Sandwich Terns, a couple American Oystercatchers, and many Willets and Marbled Godwits.
Then I found a Long-billed Curlew actively feeding on crabs. I think I remember reading that one was seen here, but I'd forgotten, and it was a nice surprise.  If you look carefully at the picture below, you'll see its crab in the air.
I never fail to see a Reddish Egret here, and I was beginning …

Cinnamon Teal at Merritt Island NWR, 2/23/2013

My car about died last night.  My AC compressor died and then killed a serpentine belt.  I wasn't happy to have to forego my morning of birding to get my car fixed.  It wasn't fixed until about 5pm, but I was able to get out to Merritt Island and find the Cinnamon Teal that's been seen there recently just before the sun went down.  The birds are back lit, and there's very little light, but you can see enough to tell that in fact there is a Cinnamon Teal in the photo.

Wekiwa Springs SP Landscape

Yesterday I was at Wekiwa Springs State Park with a mission: find a Bachman's Sparrow and photograph it. Then I had other birds I wanted to find too: Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, etc.  Sometimes I get so focused on my goals, that I forget how wonderful my surroundings are.  Occasionally, though, I have a momentary lapse of focus and I notice the beauty of my surroundings even with no visible wildlife.  On one of these moments, I photographed the pines and grasses without the Red-headed Woodpecker I was looking for.

These two photos also illustrate how changing the angle of the camera and the focal length of the lens can radically change your image.  The first image was shot looking pretty much straight into the trees at a focal length of about 57mm (35mm equivalent).  The second was angled looking up to the tree tops at a focal length of 24m.  As you can see, the trees no longer stand straight.  They converge toward the top of the frame.  If my momentary lapse of…

Bachman's Sparrow at Wekiwa Springs SP, 2/22/2013

My main goal in visiting Wekiwa Springs State Park this morning was to see a Bachman's Sparrow.  So I was excited when I heard one sing (to me it sounds like it's saying "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!"). And then another popped up onto a branch right at about eye level.  The lighting was nice--I didn't even need exposure compensation. In some of these photos, it looks like this sparrow has something on it's belly, and I can't tell if it's a tick or something else.  I did get one email suggesting that it's probably a soft tick that will drop off when it's taken its fill of blood.

Other highlights were several Chipping Sparrows, American Goldfinches, Eastern Bluebirds, Carolina Chickadees. lots of Pine Warblers singing, one Red-headed Woodpecker seen from a distance, and one Brown-headed Nuthatch.

Overlook Park, 2/21/2013

Yesterday morning I drove up to Overlook Park.  It's about 15 minutes from my house, and I check it out regularly to see what ducks may be out on Lake Jesup.  It's a very small park, so I never expect to find much, but yesterday morning was very enjoyable.  A Great Blue Heron was begging me to take his picture, several Limpkins were out busily gathering snails, some Double-crested Cormorants perched on Lake Jesup for me, and a Bonaparte's Gull stayed pretty close to shore.  I saw nothing new or unusual, but I still had a pretty great 45 minutes before work.

A Limpkin Family

This morning I drove to one of my favorite places near Lake Jesup, and I happened to find a family of Limpkins.  Mom and Dad were both feeding their four little chicks, and it looks like they just recently hatched. I usually only come here occasionally for just a few minutes to see what ducks may be floating out on Lake Jesup, but now I think I'll have to come here once a week or so and check up on these little ones.  I'm always amazed at how tender the adults can be in caring for their chicks. I kept my distance from them, and while occasionally they would come relatively close to me, most of these photos are pretty heavily cropped.