Showing posts from August, 2013

Central Winds Park, 8/31/2013

I went to Central Winds again this morning.  I needed to be home a little early, so I decided to stay local. I think I startled an Osprey while it was eating its fish.  We saw each other at the same time; I stood still, but it decided to take off anyway.  And a young Red-tailed Hawk was soaring above the trees.  I don't often see them here.

There was nothing new there this morning by way of migrants, seven warblers: Ovenbird, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black & White, Yellow, Yellow-throated and Prairie Warbler. I'm really hoping to get a Blue-winged Warbler and Hooded Warbler soon.

I took a little time to photograph some of the butterflies and damselflies that were there: in particular, a Spicebush Swallowtail and a Rambur's Forktail Damselfly.

Northern Parula

There were dozens of them this morning.  I estimated about 25 of them at Central Winds Park, and I think that was a low estimate.  I took a little time to try to photograph some of them; they were very active, which can make it a challenge, but one photo came out pretty nicely.  Other warblers this morning: Ovenbird, Worm-eating, Yellow, Yellow-throated, Black & White, American Redstart, and Prairie. Also had a Yellow-throated Vireo.

Review of the New SmugMug

I love SmugMug.  I've used it for years, and I've always believed it to be the best photo-hosting service around. I was using Flickr before, but I hated the Flickr look--white background, ads, and the sets and collections thing never really made much sense to me.  So I bought a SmugMug account and never looked back.  A couple years ago I put a lot of effort in to customizing my SmugMug site.  I combed the internet for html code to paste into various sections of my site to make it look more professional--a clean interface with a banner, slideshow, and a menu to take you to my galleries. I was very happy.  So you can imagine my concern when SmugMug announced that they were overhauling everything.  All my customized work would would be wiped out when the new SmugMug took effect.  I was more than just a little apprehensive about the transition. But I'm proud to say that they got it right in just about every way possible.  My favorite photo-hosting service is now even better.


Ovenbird at Central Winds Park

This morning the Ovenbirds were making their presence known. It was like they were trying to see who could chirp the loudest. I suspect there were at least 4 there, though there may have been other less vocal ones that I couldn't find. We had a total of 9 warblers including the Ovenbird, Black & White Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.

Wild Turkeys

I'm sitting here at home testing out my upgraded internet connection. It only took 5 days for CenturyLink to upgrade my service from 3 to 10 Mbps.  So now I'm watching internet TV.  I guess I'm in a somewhat retro mood, and I'm watching the classic TV series, WKRP in Cincinnati, the Turkey episode--you know, the one where they drop Turkeys out of a helicopter as a publicity stunt, not knowing that Turkeys can't fly.

So the episode gave me an idea of what my post should be today.  I occasionally find Wild Turkeys at Central Winds, and sometimes they can be pretty photogenic.  Wild Turkeys actually can fly, though;  they're a lot of fun to see.

Barn Swallows

This past week I decided to go to the Little Big Econ State Forest to look for migrants.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I found about 50 or so Barn Swallows perched on the utility lines.  I decided to walk over to see if I could find any Cliff or Bank Swallows among them.  No luck there, but I did have some fun photographing the Barn Swallows too.  Some of them were juveniles, so they look a little different than the adults.

Point of View

This morning I was at Central Winds Park, my favorite birding local birding location in the fall, and a Tiger Swallowtail landed right in front of me.  In fact, I had to back up in order to get these shots.  In the background were cypress trees and bare sky, and these three shots were taken with me standing in slightly different places.  I think you can see the difference it makes where you stand.  The first image below was the shot I took right when the butterfly landed.  I wanted to get the shot before I re-positioned myself, but I don't really care for this shot at all.  The sky in the background is making me alter my exposure, and I still have bright spots that compete with the subject for attention.  So I started moving around to see if I could find an angle on the butterfly that would be only distant trees.  The second image below was the result I was able to achieve if I moved to the left--a little better, but still the background is pretty bright and now the right wing is…

Dragonflies at Econ River WA

Yesterday afternoon I dropped by the Econ River Wilderness Area.  I had a meeting nearby, and I thought I'd go there early to check it out.  I wasn't expecting to find a lot there, but I was surprised at how few birds I found.  I ended up devoting most of my attention to the many dragonflies that were there.  I photographed four species, and two of them were new to me: a Roseate Skimmer and Bar-winged Skimmer.

Migration Begins at Central Winds

Migration is starting to get fun at Central Winds Park.  It's still early, but we're seeing a fair number of warblers coming in.  As usual, the Northern Parulas are the most plentiful, but Prairie, Black and White, and Yellow-throated Warblers are becoming common here.  We've also had our fair share of American Redstarts, Prothonotary Warblers, and Ovenbirds.  I suspect we'll be getting Yellow Warblers soon. We've also begun getting in some flycatchers. So far I've found an Acadian Flycatcher and an Eastern Wood-Pewee.

And just for fun, Wild Turkeys are here too. Occasionally I find an adult with young ones walking through the grass.

BioLab Rd on Merritt Island, 8/17/2013

I found all the normal wading birds and shorebirds on Bio Lab Rd today.  Wading bird highlights were the normal herons and egrets, both ibises, and Roseate Spoonbills. We also had a fair share of Stilt Sandpipers, both Dowitchers, both Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers, and Least, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

I also found a small flock of shorebirds with dowitchers, yellowlegs and an interesting shorebird.  It's a Wilson's Phalarope!  It in the rear with a very thin needle-like bill, white throat, white rump, and pale lores.

Sometimes You're Just Glad You Saw the Bird

A friend of mine found a Cerulean Warbler at Lake Lotus Park this morning.  I was there an hour later for an early lunch break, along with a small group of other birders. Over the next 45 minutes or so, we each had a chance to get pretty good looks at it, though it was not very willing to pose for photos.  I was able to get a few shots that were good enough for an ID, but no quality photographs that I found satisfying.  Well, sometimes it's just good to see the bird.  Here's my lousy photos, but they're good enough for an ID, and it's a life bird for me, so I'm happy.

Marl Bed Flats, 8/14/2013

I drove out to Marl Bed Flats this morning hoping to find shorebirds.  I found none--not even a Killdeer.  I did have a pretty good time though.  I saw a juvenile Purple Gallinule, Coopers Hawk and a Belted Kingfisher. There were also many of the normal blackbirds, grackles and wading birds.

More of these hibiscus-like flowers are blooming here, and they look to me to be Saltmarsh Mallow, though I wasn't in a salt marsh. I wish I'd brought my diffuser for this photo.

Dragonflies where also there in abundance. I photographed a beautiful male Four-spotted Pennant.

As I was leaving, I found a butterfly I've never seen before. That didn't surprise me, since I'm pretty much a novice at identifying insects. I took a few photos with my point and shoot camera and then searched my Audubon Butterfly Guide and could not find this butterfly. The best I could find was a Northern White-Skipper. The only problem is that they aren't supposed to be east of Colorado. But I …

La Quebrada Sunset and Cliff Diver

On Wednesday night while we were in Acapulco, we decided to go see the cliff divers at La Quebrada. These cliff divers were once very famous and would be featured on U.S. TV sports shows. These cliff divers (or clavadistas) dive off a very tall cliff, and my understanding is that their dives have to be timed perfectly for them to survive. If they hit the water when the waves are out, the water is too shallow, and they will hit the rocks in shallow water, so the must hit the water as the waves come in. Over the years, I've seen this many times, so the event is not quite as exciting as it once was. However, some of the people in my group had never been before, so we decided to go. My favorite part of the event was the sunset, which I found quite striking. 
But since I went through the effort of describing the clavadistas, I suppose I should show a picture of one during a dive. I wish I had my 180mm macro lens; I only had my 400mm lens, so the photos I took are extremely close up. A…