Showing posts from 2015

Vermilion Flycatcher at Little Big Econ WMA, 12/31/2015

A few days ago, a Vermilion Flycatcher was found along the Little Big Econ River, very close to where it meets with the St. Johns River. This morning I decided to walk the Kilbee Tract of the Little Big Econ WMA to see if I could find it. It was a pretty easy walk to get to the spot.  This particular individual is a female, and I have no photos of females. This bird was also my first for Seminole County. It's such a fantastic bird.

After finding the flycatcher I decided to walk the shore of the Little Big Econ to look at the St. Johns. Unfortunately, there's a fence prohibiting you from doing that. However, just walking the grassy and muddy areas next to the Econ was pretty wonderful. There were 23 Black-bellied Plovers, 4 Long-billed Dowitchers and an assortment of both species of yellowlegs.  Other highlights were about 30 American Pipits and a "Krider's" Red-tailed Hawk.

You can see my full eBird checklist here. I had 71 species on the morning. Here's th…

Bronzed Cowbirds in La Carreta Parking Lot, 12/27/2015

After finding our Burrowing Owls, we drove down to Miami-Dade County and stopped at a La Carreta Cuban Restaurant.  We didn't go for the food, though I would have loved to have tried the food there (I love Cuban food). We went to find cowbirds in the parking lot.  It wasn't long before we started finding them everywhere, usually hiding under the cars behind the restaurant.  At one point, two perched up on top of a car. Those were probably my best pictures, even if their setting is anything but natural. The sun captured the purple iridescence of one pretty well.

Here's my eBird checklist for the the La Carreta parking lot. The only other bird of any interest we saw here was a Monk Parakeet.

Burrowing Owl at Brian Piccolo Park, 12/27/2015

My father and I just returned from a 3 day excursion through South Florida in search of birds we've never seen before.  We had a very successful trip.  We found 104 species over the three days, including 6 species I've never seen in Florida: Neotropic Cormorant, Western Spindalis (lifer), Egyptian Goose, Bronzed Cowbird, Red-wiskered Bulbul (lifer), and Western Grebe. We also had 2 currently non-countable species we've never seen before: Scaly-breasted Munia and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet.  I also added two birds to my year list: Nashville Warbler and Burrowing Owl.

I don't normally give away locations of nests or owl locations; however, these owls are well-known and their nests are clearly marked with yellow tape to encourage visitors to stay a safe distance away. It's the strangest thing: Brian Piccolo Park is a community park with baseball and soccer fields, and these owls are nesting right next to the parking lots in the park.  We drove in and almost immediatel…

Merritt Island NWR, 12/12/2015

This past Saturday I decided to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I haven't been here in forever. I've spent most of my time in Orange and Seminole Counties, so it was very nice to return to MINWR. I was hoping to add some birds to my year list and collect some better photographs of birds that are around here this time of year.

Shiloh Marsh
I began at sunrise at Shiloh Marsh, hoping for Clapper Rails and Sharp-tailed Sparrows; they're very common here this time of year, and you're pretty sure to see them if you get out on the marsh as the sun is rising.  I saw all three species, but I was only able to photograph Saltmarsh Sparrows; I only saw one Nelson's Sparrow, and it was being too uncooperative.

I couldn't believe how many Saltmarsh Sparrows there were, though.  My conservative estimate is 8 (they move under cover so well, it's possible that I saw the same bird pop up in two places, so I was pretty conservative). With just a little pishin…

Clay-colored Sparrow on Canal St, 12/8/2015

On Dec 8, I found one of my nemesis birds for Seminole County: a Clay-colored Sparrow (White-throated Sparrow, Western Kingbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat are next on my list). I've been trying to find one here for years. It's been hanging out here for about a week now, so I'm hopeful that it might winter here (along with a Field Sparrow, also somewhat unusual in Central Florida).

My favorite sparrow spot is really just a fence line with lots of dense vegetation around it bordering a cow pasture. It's not a park; it's really just a little spot along the side of the road. I sometimes worry about the local residents being irritated by my presence. However, the "locals" don't seem to mind me at all, and sometimes they stop and chat for a minute as they drive by. On the day I found the sparrow, I was hoping to photograph an Ash-throated Flycatcher that my friend had found just a couple days earlier. I was striking out on that bird when this little sparro…

Lake Apopka, 11/21/2015

Lake Apopka has been spectacular over the last month or so. For starters, a month ago, a Brown Booby was blown inland by a storm, found Lake Apopka, and now apparently doesn't want to leave. It's been living on the lake for the last month, usually too far away to see with binoculars. However, today I got some good scope views of this incredible rarity--too far away for photos, though.  A week ago, I found a Purple Swamphen (aka Gray-headed Swamphen) on Lust Rd.  This is an exotic species that escaped from south Florida a few years ago and has been expanding its range throughout south Florida, and now Central Florida. Two days ago, a Tropical Kingbird was seen here as well (I've chased it three times and not found it). Ash-throated Flycatchers have also been coming in. At least three have been seen between Magnolia Park and the pump house a the end of Lust Rd.  I found two yesterday when I was striking out on the Tropical Kingbird.

Today was another wonderful day.  I misse…

Birding Antalya, Turkey

A few days ago I returned from Antalya, Turkey. I wasn't there for fun or birding; it was a work trip. I was unable to go anywhere except walk around the hotel grounds and look for whatever wildlife might appear there. However, the grounds were large and beautiful; there were lots of trees, and the property backed up to the Mediterranean Sea.  Between walking around the hotel grounds and returning to the Antalya airport, I saw 20 species of birds, including 16 lifers.  I still wonder what it would have been like to take a tour or hike; I may well have doubled these numbers. But I can't complain at all.  I was there for work, and just spending about 45 minutes outside each day was plenty of fun. My favorite find was a White-spectacled Bulbul, which was the first bird I photographed when I first walked onto the grounds.

The most noticeable species were the wagtails.  White Wagtails were everywhere, and they were very conspicuous--frequently vocalizing and constantly wagging the…

Canon PowerShot G7X: Initial Thoughts

I've been using my Canon G7X for about a month now.  Obviously given my interest in bird photography, I didn't buy it to be my primary camera. However, I always like to take a second camera with me for photos of landscapes, flowers and other non-birds in nature. Bringing a second DSLR or changing lenses is not really an option, so this camera seemed to fit the bill. So far I have been very impressed with it.  I haven't done any formal tests, but it seems like noise levels are not appreciably different from my Canon 7D, and the lens is nice and sharp, even at 1:1 on my computer.  All my landscape shots have been shot hand held. Here are a few that I like best.

For macro and flower photography, the Canon G7X has done quite well so far. With a smaller sensor, this camera will not give you the kind of blurry backgrounds you'd expect to get out of a DSLR, but it's a gigantic improvement over the tiny sensor point and shoots like my previous camera (the Canon PowerShot …