Showing posts from November, 2013

Marl Bed Flats, 11/30/2013

This morning I went to Marl Bed Flats with my father and a friend of mine.  We had a pretty great time.  We saw all the usual suspects: Sedge Wrens, Eastern Meadowlarks, Northern Harrier, Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and Sora. The biggest highlight for me was seeing a Merlin in the distance--the first I've seen this this fall.

Henslow's Sparrow at Tiger Bay Forest

Yesterday a couple friends and I drove out to the Tiger Bay Forest WMA in Volusia County. I hadn't even  heard of this place before someone else posted a sighting of a Lincoln's Sparrow here.  We went in search of the sparrow, which showed itself pretty quickly.  But then we caught a glimpse of a very secretive sparrow.  We eventually we were all able to see it--my first Henslow's Sparrow!  The bird never came out in the open, but at one point I got a few shots that were diagnostic.  This one was the "best." This may be the worst photo I've posted on my blog, but I don't care; it's a Henslow's Sparrow.

Marsh Wren at the North Tract of Lake Jesup CA

Right near the entrance of the North Tract of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area, there's a little pond with a couple very vocal Marsh Wrens. One of them was very photogenic and allowed me to get a few photos. I found this bird a couple weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to posting them. These are some of my favorite photos of the species.

Marl Bed Flats, 11/17/2013

Yesterday morning a friend and I went to Marl Bed Flats. It was a little slower than I thought it would be, I'm guessing because it was a windy, cloudy morning.  Sedge Wrens were plentiful there, and the House Wrens were especially vocal.  Even with the wind there were lots of Savannah Sparrows around. We also had one Orange-crowned Warbler and many Palm Warblers, including one "yellow/eastern" race, but we saw only one Yellow-rumped Warbler and heard only one Common Yellowthroat.

There were also many blackbirds around, and we were lucky enough to have an Eastern Meadowlark fly right by us. I think this is my only presentable photo of an Eastern Meadowlark in flight.
And Phoebes were calling everywhere.  A couple were quite photogenic; one perched right next to the past and allowed us to get some photos with nice, clean backgrounds.
One of the biggest highlights for me was seeing this spider. According to, it's in the genus Acanthepeira, but it could b…

Seattle Birding, Part 2

When I was in Seattle this past week, we saw many ducks and gulls, especially at Puget Sound, which we visited twice, and Lake Washington, which we visited once. The ducks were really fun to see. I found my first Barrow's Goldeneyes and Harlequin Duck, but it was also fun to see Common Goldeneye, wild Mallards, both American and Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, and Surf Scoters.

Gulls were also very enjoyable. Almost every gull I found was one I'd never seen before--Ring-billed and Bonaparte's Gulls were the only ones that are common in Florida, but my lifers were much more common. Glaucous-winged Gulls, California Gulls, Mew Gulls and Heerman's Gulls were everywhere.

Seattle Birding, Part 1

This past week I went to Seattle to attend my sister's wedding.  It was a pretty good time to hang out with my sister, her husband and my parents.  We had time in the morning for my dad and I to do some birding.  We couldn't go very far or stay very long, but in just the little time we had, I found about 25 life birds (including about 5 birds I'd saw when I was a child living in California but before I was a birder).  We visited a few places in King and Snohomish Counties, including Picnic Point Park, Wallace Swamp Creek Park, Lake Washington and my sister's back yard.  I thought it would be best to share what I saw in two posts. In post, perching birds, and in the next, ducks and gulls. One of the first birds I saw was a Golden-crowned Kinglet (a life for me). We also saw many Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and I was was surprised to find my first Hutton's Vireo, which do a pretty good job of looking like kinglets. It must be irritating for birders in the Pacific Northw…

A Guide to the Lower Wekiva River Preserve

The Lower Wekiva River Preserve is located just east of the Wekiva River and north of rte 46 in Sanford FL. There are two parking areas, one on rte 46 and the other on Wekiva Park Dr at Katie's Landing. Katie's Landing is nicer, has restrooms, and gets to to my favorite parts of the park faster, but you're supposed to pay $3 in an envelope slot there.

There are over 18 miles of trails [trail map] through some wonderful pine forests. I discovered this park in May, but it's becoming one of my favorite places to visit. From Katie's Landing you cross the street, and you'll see a sign for the trail head. There are paper maps there. I always get one because the trail blazes are often absent. Intersections of the trails are lettered on the map and on posts along the trail. I usually meander northeast for about half the time I have available to me, and then I meander back a different way. I enjoy walking up to G and then down to H and then back (or the other way…

Loggerhead Shrike Feasts on a Mole Cricket

I found several Loggerhead Shrikes on Brumley Road not far from my house.  This one had impaled a Mole Cricket on the barbed wire fence.  As I drove by it flew up and perched on the fence by the cricket. After a few seconds, it pulled it off the barbed wire, held it for a couple more seconds in its mouth, and then re-positioned and swallowed the cricket. Shrikes are famous for impaling their prey. They do this for several reasons: 1) it allows them to cache food for later consumption, 2) some insects like lubber grasshoppers have toxins that can make birds sick, but caching food allows the toxins to become less potent, and 3) shrikes lack talons, so thorns and barbed wire can be useful for holding prey in place while consuming it. I'm not sure why this fascinates me so much, but it's one reason why Loggerhead Shrikes are one of my favorite birds.