Showing posts from October, 2014

Lark Sparrow on Canal St.

This morning before work I decided to drive around some road-side sparrow habitat to see what I could find. I checked the Black Hammock area south of Lake Jesup, and I wasn't finding anything. I was hoping for Grasshopper Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows, but I was having a hard time finding any sparrow at all--not even a Savannah Sparrow. But the last place I checked turned out to make out for a slow morning. I was checking some bushes next to the road on Canal Street, and there were several birds on the back side of the bush that I couldn't make out. As I was waiting for better looks, a Lark Sparrow popped out into full view and sat on a perch for several minutes. Then it disappeared for a minute or two, but then I saw it fly across Canal Street to perch on a palm tree for me. It was one of the most cooperative sparrows I've ever photographed. This bird made my week.

Florida's Ammodramus Sparrows

There are six Ammodramus sparrows that occur in Florida, and now I have presentable photos of all of them. This may be my favorite group of birds in the world. I know the Henslow's Sparrow photo below is terrible, but I'm not complaining. I suspect I won't get a better photo unless I see one up north in the summer.  Full disclosure, though: my Seaside Sparrow Photo was not taken in Florida; it's from South Carolina.  But I have seen them here in FL too--just too far away for photos.  Would someone please send a Baird's Sparrow here please?

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Ammodramus Sparrows are beautiful sparrows.  It's my favorite genus of sparrows, and perhaps my favorite of any group of birds.  I think they're absolutely gorgeous birds, and many of them are tough to find.  Saltmarsh Sparrows are the last Ammodramus sparrow that occurs in Florida that I've photographed. Such beautiful birds!
The easiest place I know of to find this species is at Shiloh Marsh, which is the northern part of Merritt Island NWR in Volusia County.  They occur here along with Nelson's Sparrows. Two of the most beautiful sparrows I've ever seen in the same spot.

Painted Bunting

It's not uncommon to see Painted Buntings during migration, and even throughout the winter, but for some reason I almost always see females. I see adult males around feeders pretty frequently too, but they don't seem to want to pose for photos away from feeders.  But this particular individual was very cooperative, and there were no feeders around.

American Crow

For some reason, I have had a hard time getting a good photograph of an American Crow.  Part of the reason why is that it's notoriously difficult to distinguish them from Fish Crows if they're not calling. In fact, it's pretty much impossible.  So I have to see the bird call to know which species I'm photographing.  Well this one cooperated.  I wish it had found a perch instead of walking on a mown lawn, but I'll take it. Sometime ago I actually found out that there's one good field mark for telling the two species apart, though the field mark almost completely useless.  Fish Crows generally raise their throat feathers while calling, while American Crows do not.  Of course, if you're there to watch this happen, you're also likely hearing the bird call, and you can identify it by call instead of by this field mark. So the field mark is pretty much useless unless you're trying to identify a photo of a calling crow.

Poor Little Guy

This past weekend I went out with my daughter to hide a geocache.  We were hunting around a butterfly garden and found this cute little treefrog.  Unfortunately, this one is missing an eye. I feel sorry for the frog, but I confess I'm also disappointed that its missing eye cost me a better photo. I took these photos with my point and shoot camera, Canon Powershot S100 HS.  I think it's a Squirrel Tree Frog, but I'm not sure.  Anyone out there know?

Dragonfly 1, Merlin 0

About a week ago, I drove to Canal St in search of a Least Flycatcher that was seen the day before. I didn't find it (it did show up a few days later), but I did see a Merlin fly by.  I photographed it as it flew by, and when I looked at the photos, I noticed that it attempted to grab a dragonfly. I'm really surprised that both the dragonfly was relatively sharp, so even though the photos aren't all that great, I thought they were worth sharing.

Ovenbird, 10/7/2014

This morning I found an Ovenbird at Central Winds.  It was in pretty deep cover, but it was pretty close, so I decided to set my camera to 6400 ISO and take a bunch of shots, hoping a couple might be sharp.  Thankfully a couple did, and here are the couple photos that turned out. My shutter speed was only 1/60 sec or so, so I was a bit lucky I think.

Boat-tailed Grackle, 10/1/2014

The other day I was checking the ball fields at Central Winds Park to see if there might be any unusual birds there.  No surprises, but I did see this striking Boat-tailed Grackle. In this part of Florida we have quite a luxury because Boat-tailed Grackles have brown eyes here.  This makes them rather easy to separate from Common Grackles, which have yellow eyes.

Green Heron, 9/27/2014

About a week ago I drove down to Viera Wetlands, hopefully to find a Lark Sparrow that had been seen a couple days earlier.  We missed that, and we hardly saw anything else either. And the wetlands were closed off.  However, there were many Green Herons there, and one in particular posed for photos.

Pelagic Birding, 9/28/2014

Last week I went on a pelagic trip into the Atlantic Ocean. We left Ponce Inlet at 4 am in search of a sunrise and some pelagic birds. We were not disappointed. The sunrise was spectacular, and we had a chance to see some nice pelagic birds. We didn't see anything rare, but it was fun nonetheless.

Shortly after sunrise, we saw our first pelagic bird--a Cory's Shearwater. Soon we were in the midst of the Gulf Stream (about 40 miles off shore), and we began to see more Cory's Shearwaters (a couple were Scopoli type), one Great Shearwater, several Audubon Shearwaters, and both Sooty and Bridled Terns. We had at least one Parasitic Jaeger (my only lifer on the day), one likely Pomarine Jaeger, and a few Brown Boobies.

We went out 65 miles to the western edge of a canyon that was about 2,500 ft deep about half way across the Gulf Stream. At about 60 miles out, we began to see a few Black-capped Petrels

I was hoping we'd see some phalaropes; we found one; a Red-necked P…

Central Winds Park, 10/1/2014

Ugh. I've been a terrible blogger lately. This is my first post in two weeks! However, Central Winds has become increasingly fun over the last couple weeks, with a larger variety of migrants coming through.  There are also fewer numbers of Northern Parula (sometimes I'd see about 50 or so in the park), so it's easier to pick out other species. The park has also given me some of my better photographs of some species, so I figured I'd share a collection of photos from the last two weeks (when I last posted).

Yellow Warblers have been quite common here, and sometimes I've seen as many as 5.  But for some reason they have not been that cooperative for photos until a couple days ago.  One found a nice snack low enough for me to get a decent shot, finally.

Prairie Warblers and Black and White Warblers have also been pretty common here, but the Black-and-whites have been much more cooperative, so much so that I had to post a couple today.

Magnolia and Chestnut-sided Warb…