Showing posts from June, 2013

Common Nighthawks Courting

This is the last day of June Challenge (seeing as many birds as you can in one county during the month of June).  I decided to spend the last evening of the challenge at the Econ River Wilderness Area.  Last year, I found a Common Nighthawk there, and I was hoping to get a repeat performance.  I was pleasantly surprised, not only to find two, but also to see them copulating. I first heard the male as it was flying toward me, and once I found it above the trees, it put on a display and then landed on the female. After these photos, the two flew off together. It was a dark, cloudy, and rainy day today (I half expected to get caught in a downpour), so the sky was really cloudy and ugly. These photos are not as beautiful as I would like, but this is something I don't get to see every day, and I thought they would be fun to share anyway.

Bald Eagle at C.S. Lee Park

A few days ago I was at C.S. Lee Park (on the northeast corner of Seminole Co), and this Bald Eagle flew by.  The mixture of first and second generation flight feathers, the extensive white mottling on the belly and wings, and the lack of a distinct dark "eye stripe" suggests this is a 2nd year plumaged bird.

Wekiva River, 6/29/2013

This morning a friend and I kayaked the Wekiva River (with a short stint up Rock Springs Run) looking for breeding birds.  I brought my camera with me, but I didn't take a lot of photos--that's partly because of low light conditions and the fact that it poured down rain on us a couple times.  I'm so glad I didn't forget my waterproof case.  We found only one Acadian Flycatcher and three Prothonotary Warblers, along with an assortment of the kinds of birds you'd expect to find.  I also took some photos of a Florida Red-bellied Turtle.

Lake Lotus Park, 6/28/2013

This morning I dropped by Lake Lotus Park; I haven't been here in months because they open so late in the morning it's difficult to spend any length of time here before work.  Well, I was driving nearby this morning, so I thought it would be worth walking the trail once to see what may be there.  There was nothing unusual to be found--a first-year Double-crested Cormorant was on the water, I guess too young to go to the coast for breeding.  A Limpkin landed on the boardwalk railing so close to me that I could only photograph its head and neck (not that I'm complaining).  And a Barred Owl was out by the boardwalk, and it was close enough for nearly full-frame pictures.  Right near the owl was a pretty flower, which I'm guessing is a Primrose-willow of some sort, but I don't trust my own diagnostic skills for wildflowers.

I'm still sometimes amazed at the difference moving a little bit can do for your compostion.  The above shot of the Barred Owl was the view I …

Osprey at Cameron Wight Park

This morning I drove out to Cameron Wight Park hoping to find a Brown Pelican for my June Challenge (finding as many birds as possible in my county during the month of June).  I didn't have any luck with that, but it was fun to see this Osprey going to work on a fish.  He dropped part of his meal as I was taking pictures.

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks

Over the last few months, I've been watching a Red-shouldered Hawks' nest at Central Winds Park.  It all started with their courtship along rte 434 just south of the park.  Then I found their nest inside the park.  I've seen the fledgings hanging out on branches by the nest, and now they're flying around the park.  I wasn't sure how many young ones there were, because there was no good view of the nest.  I knew there was at least two.  Well this afternoon I found one down by the shore of Lake Jesup, and then two near the nest area.  I can't be sure if the one by the shore made it back to the nest area by the time I did, but I have a feeling that that's what happened.  I didn't see either of the adults, but the kiddos appear to be doing fine.

Given how cloudy/shady it was, I had to shoot both of these at pretty high ISO.  The first was shot at 1250 and the other two were taken at 3200.  But these are nearly full-frame images.  They did not seem to mind …

Eastern Meadowlark on Brumley Rd

On Brumley Rd this morning I found many singing meadowlarks; they're one my favorite birds because I love the soundtrack they add to my birding.  Plus they're one of the prettiest blackbirds I get to see on a regular basis.  These two were very close to each other, and I was able to photograph both from the same place.

Crested Caracara on Brumley Rd

Why did the Crested Caracara cross the road? I really don't know, but I'm pretty glad it did. I drove to Brumley Rd this morning, and on the way into the area, I saw two on the top of a distant tree.  Then, on my way out, I only saw one.  I started to drive off and then I saw the second in the grass on the other side of the road near someone's yard.  It was pretty close to the road, and I thought maybe if I drive slow enough, I might be able to get close enough from some good photos.  As I was slowly approaching, the first flew over and landed on a fence post very near me.  I stopped my car and took the above picture.  Then it dropped down and walked  over the road to the grass with the other caracara. The two of them walked together, usually not close enough together for me to get both in the same frame, but it looked like they were trying to find their lost car keys.

Indigo Bunting on Canal St.

Yesterday I dropped by Canal St., where I've been seeing Indigo Buntings hanging out.  I've seen then singing earlier this month.  I went back yesterday for just a few minutes, and they were still there. They've been there a while, so I strongly suspect they're breeding there.

Prothonotary Warblers at Spring Hammock Preserve

This morning I walked the Osprey Trail at Spring Hammock Preserve in search of the Prothonotary Warblers I'd seen there a couple times in May.  With all the rain we've been having, there is a lot of water under the board walk, and it seemed to me a great place to look for breeding Prothonoary Warblers..  There were more mosquitoes along the trail than birds, but I was rewarded at the end of the boardwalk with the sight of a beautiful male Prothonotary Warbler.  He perched in the sunlight for me; unfortunately, it was so dark under the canopy of trees that I had my ISO set to 2000, but the photo above doesn't show the noise very much.  I walked to the very end of the board walk and heard a couple Purple Gallinules there before deciding to head back.  On the way back I found a male and a female, and the female was foraging for food; at one point she took off with a tasty morsel for the nest (that photo had to be shot at ISO 4000). Once getting home and looking at my photos,…

Yellow-crowned Night Heron on Wekiva River

This afternoon after work I took a kayak down the Wekiva River for about an hour to see what I could find for my June Challenge (finding as many birds as  you can in one county during the month of June).  It was really fun to find a Yellow-crowned Night Heron nest.  I saw one adult with two chicks (the photo below shows one pretty clearly and a bump for the second. Unfortunately, these are the best looks I was able to get of the birds--a somewhat cluttered background, but these are the first I've ever seen in Seminole County, so I thought I'd share.

Other cool finds along the river were two Barred Owls and an Acadian Flycatcher, both of which were new additions to my June Challenge total.

Maryland Landscape

One of the things I miss the most about Maryland is the scenery. I love the rolling hills found throughout the state. This photo was taken on some farmland in northern Baltimore County. For this shot, I waited for the sun to strike the foreground trees while the clouds cast a shadow near the bottom of the background hill to help separate the two hills. Also, they're growing barley on the farm, so I also had some fun photographing some of the barley. These photos were taken with my point and shoot Canon PowerShot S100 HS.

Occoquan Bay NWR, 6/11/2013

I'm up in Virginia visiting my parents, and so my father and I decided to visit the Occoquan Bay NWR, which is a wonderful area to visit.  We walked a couple miles from the parking lot to the Potomac River and back, and saw some pretty fun things. We heard several Yellow-billed Cuckoos there, and we saw a couple of them. One in particular came out in the open a few times to give me my best photos of the species. We also heard an Acadian Flycatcher, and probably a couple of them, and one came out in the open long enough for a couple photos.

Near the shore of the Potomac we found a couple Prothonotary Warblers, right in the same place I'd seen them here last July. These are one of my favorite warblers.  I love their "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet" song.

By the parking lot we found a couple Yellow-breasted Chats. They were here when we arrived, but it was too cloudy for presentable photos.  When we returned, though, the sun had come out and allowed for something, at l…

June Challenge Begins

So June Challenge has begun.  If you're not a Florida birder, June Challenge is a friendly competition among birders.  You choose a county and find as many birds as you can in the county during the month of June.  June is hot, and migration is pretty much over.  I had some time go out yesterday, and a little time this morning.  Highlights so far are seeing a Chuck-Will's Widow and a Great Horned Owl at the Econ River Wilderness Area and also seeing a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Bachman's Sparrow at the Lower Wekiva River Preserve.  It was also fun to see a bat crawling up a tree.  I've never seen one outside during the daytime before. Ospreys and Great Blue Herons are common year-round here, but it's still fun to see them.

Flora at Spring Hammock Preserve

I've fallen behind.  I took these photos about 4 days ago when I visited Spring Hammock Preserve, and I'm just now uploading them.  Cabbage Palms are pretty; their radial patterns are really fun, and they seem to be more photogenic up close than other palms.  And these Morning Glories are also blooming.  This one is not in full bloom, but I kind of like the way they look when they're like this. Both of these were taken with my point and shoot camera. Hopefully I'll catch up soon.