Showing posts from 2016

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

I bought my Canon Powershot G7X so that I would be able take landscapes and other non-bird photographs without having to change lenses all the time. I spend all my time in nature just looking for birds, and so often I forget to photograph the scenery around me.  Well on November 30th the sunrise was too spectacular to ignore, so I pulled out my other camera and started taking photos. I'm pretty happy with these. These may be my favorite sunrise photos from the park.

Common Goldeneye in Sanford

This past Saturday a friend of mine found a Common Goldeneye in the pond in front of the Joann Fabrics store in Sanford. This is the third year in a row that the duck has made an appearance there. We were in the area for a CBC when he texted me to let me know it has returned. So we drove to the pond and found the duck. The lighting was pretty good, so these are some of my favorite pictures of the species.

Merry Christmas!!!

Seminole Ranch Conservation Area, 12/23/2016

This morning I drove to the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area. The parking area for it is right across the street from Orlando Wetlands Park. If there's no hunt planned for the day, you can get there as early as you like and walk to the St. John's River. The trail takes you to the St. Johns just north of Lake Cone. There's another trail that may have taken me a bit farther south, and I may try that next time, but it will probably be a longer walk. There was some great sparrow habitat along the walk.  Major parts looked wonderful for Le Conte's Sparrow, and I heard calls in three places sounded looked like ammodramus calls. I suspect that's what they were, but I only got my eyes on one, and I didn't see it long enough to be sure. The area was loaded with Swamp and Savannah Sparrows as well as Sedge and Marsh Wrens. Common Yellowthroats and Palm Warblers were also abundant. My first sparrow of the morning was a surprising White-crowned Sparrow. I've never had…

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows are so common in the winter time here it's easy to overlook them. Sometimes, though, they pop up and pose so nicely, they're hard to ignore. They're pretty smart-looking sparrows. In the mornings you can find them along the fence lines on Canal St, my favorite sparrow spot in Seminole Co. This December Canal St has been pretty slow. I've found one Lincoln's Sparrow there, but apart from that, I've just seen Savannah, Swamp and Song Sparrows. So far, not even a White-crowned has shown up. I keep checking the area, though, in the hopes that something more rare will appear. One of these days, a White-throated Sparrow will show up here, I know it.

South Florida Birding, 12/3/2016

Earlier this month a friend and I chased a Thick-billed Vireo in South Florida at Bill Baggs State Park in Miami. We were enticed by the possibility of both seeing that bird and seeing a Western Spindalis as well. Both birds had been seen within 50 feet or so of each other. So we made the four-hour trek down to Miami and staked out both birds. The Western Spindalis was the first to show herself. The Thick-billed Vireo showed up around 11am. We all had some pretty good looks at it, even though it was only for a few seconds, before it took off into the woods again. Unfortunately, it appears that sighting was the last time anyone saw it there. It seems to have moved on.

From there we decided to check out a few other rarities. We chased a Western Tanager at Miami-Dade College. We missed that bird, but we had a flyover Cave Swallow, which was a lifer for me. We then headed down to Castello Hammock Park to look for a Buff-bellied Hummingbird. There were two of them there hanging out wit…

Polk County Kingbird Roost, 11/12/2016

Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Polk County to a kingbird roost about 1.5 hours from my house. Both Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have been regularly reported there over the last few weeks.  I arrived around 4:30 and within about 10 minutes or so, the Western Kingbirds started flying in. I counted about 8 of them before a kestrel came by and dispersed them.  As it got close to 5pm, I started to worry that the  Scissor-tailed Flycatchers may be perching on a set of wires outside of my field of view, so I started driving around the area, and sure enough, 4 of them were with another group of about 10 Western Kingbirds. I'm uncertain how many of those kingbirds I'd seen before the kestrel dispersed the first group I saw, but I believe there were at least 12 in all. Pretty easy and fun birding.  And I must say, that area of Polk County is quite beautiful.

The first group of Western Kingbirds I saw had the decency to pose in some pretty nice afternoon light,bu…

Lark Sparrow at Lake Apopka, 11/5/2016

On Saturday I drove out to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive to see a Lark Sparrow that had been found there the day before.  It was seen near the gate area, so I didn't do the whole drive. I just walked up and down Lust Rd until I finally saw the Lark Sparrow.

While waiting for the Lark Sparrow to show up, I also saw a Field Sparrow, which also is a bit unusual in Central Florida. To my knowledge, neither bird was seen the next day, though people did photograph a Clay-colored Sparrow in the same general area.

Swamp Sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats

Shortly after I moved down to Florida, I heard about the beautiful Swamp Sunflowers that bloom in Late September and Early October at Marl Bed Flats.  However, I've never remembered to go visit while they were blooming. I'm always too early, too late, or I forget all together.  Earlier this week, however, I made it there while they were still blooming.

Anhinga with Fish

Back in August I visited Lake Apopka and found an Anhinga right after it speared a fish, giving me lots of opportunities for photos.  This one is my favorites because the fish looks completely surprised to be having such a bad day.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

At the end of August I was in Baltimore, and I stayed in the Marriott. My window overlooked the inner harbor. I love photographing the Baltimore skyline, and I've never been able to photograph it from this angle.  I arrived at night and took a few pictures before going to bed. Then the next morning I took a few more in the daytime.

Yellow Warbler

During late August and September, Yellow Warblers come through Lake Apopka in huge numbers. It's not terribly unusual to conservatively estimate 30 or more individuals along the lake shore.  I suspect this is largely because there are so many willows near the lake shore, and the drive takes you right between the willows and the lake. I think they're beautiful birds.  A few weeks ago, I was driving along the drive next to the lake, and I saw a few all in one tree. I pished a little bit, and then all of the sudden there were at least 10 there. I don't know that I've ever seen so many Yellow Warblers in any one place. This was my best photograph from that time.

Common Myna

I had a meeting in Miami last week, and I've never seen a Common Myna.  So I decided to drive a half-hour farther south than my meeting to visit the Cracker Barrel at the end of the Florida Turnpike. I'd been told that's pretty much a guaranteed spot to find them.  It took about 15 minutes before I saw about 15 of them on the power lines behind the Cracker Barrel. That was a lifer for me; well worth the extra hour of driving to locate the bird.  On my way back home, I dropped by some of my favorite South Florida birding locations to see what I might be able to add to my Florida year list. I ended the day with 8 new Florida year birds, including 2 lifers: one countable (Common Myna) and one not (Mitred Parakeet). I was slightly irritated that, on my way back through Miami, I stopped to get gas. Guess what bird I saw fly right by me? Common Myna. Figures. But I wouldn't have been able to get a photo of that bird like the one I got at the Cracker Barrel, so I guess I won…

Mead Gardens, 9/19/2016

Last week I drove out to Mead Gardens, hoping to see a Wilson's Warbler that had been photographed there the day before.  Unfortunately, it either moved on or hid from me the whole time I was there, but that's to be expected. Thankfully, a few days later another Wilson's Warbler showed up at Central Winds Park right near my home and I got to see that one.  I had two consolation prizes at Mead, though.  First, and beautiful Cape May Warbler was extremely cooperative with me,  posing for pictures and everything.

And second, I was able to get my first presentable photos of a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher that had been hanging out here for the last couple days. I've only seen three of these in Florida, and they've always been pretty difficult for me to photograph.  But this one flew very close to me.  These photos could certainly be improved with better light and background, but at the very least, they are photos I don't mind showing to you.

Slideshow of Lake Apopka

Wildlife of Lake Apopka
Over the last few days I've put together some of my favorite photos from Lake Apopka and assembled them into a video slideshow.  Lake Apopka has become one of my favorite places to visit--so much wildlife and so much diversity!  My video is about 7 minutes long; that's a little longer than I I intended, but I don't know how to make it shorter.

Photographing Waterfalls with Small Equipment

I visited Western Maryland in late July, and I had a lot of fun visiting my all-time favorite park, Swallow Falls State Park. I visited the park twice. On one day, I went to the main park entrance and walked the trails inside the park.  On the second day, I walked a trail on the other side of the Youghiogheny River. When I lived in Maryland I wasn't a birder, so I wondered what kind of wildlife might be in the park. I was not disappointed, as there singing warblers all over the park, including Pine, Hooded, Black-throated Green, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Waterthrush. In Florida I never get to hear thrushes sing, and it was wonderful to hear Veeries, Wood Thrushes and Hermit Thrushes as well.  The biggest highlight was my first ever Winter Wren.

But when I was out birding, I also wanted to take photographs of the falls and cascades along Muddy Creek and the Youghiogheny River, some of the more picturesque falls in Maryland.  However, I didn…

Boonie Falls

Last week I was on vacation at Deep Creek in Western Maryland, and in the mornings I would visit Swallow Falls State Park, which has some absolutely beautiful waterfalls. I came home to Florida wanting more, but, well, this is Florida.  I've known of a small falls along the Florida Trail in the Little Big Econ State Forest, but I've never gone to see it.  Those that have often joke about how small it is.  But I decided I had to go see for myself.  The waterfall is called Boonie Falls, and it can be accessed by parking in the grass next to Lockwood Blvd in Oviedo. There is hardly any signage, and so you have to know where it is in order to find it. But I made the half-mile walk to the falls.

The walk out there was prettier than I anticipated. I arrived at 5:30pm, so the sun was still a little to high for photographing trees, but I took a few shots with my point and shoot anyway, just for fun. These photos will at least give you a sense of how pretty the trail is.  Much of the …

Recording Video of Waterfalls

A few months ago I purchased a point and shoot camera, the Canon Powershot G7X.  I wanted to be able to quickly take photos of landscapes while I'm out birding without having to carry two DSLRs or switch lenses.  I had very little desire to take video with the camera.  However, it's very easy to do, so lately I've taken some short videos just see if I could make something interesting.  Last week I was up in Maryland, and I took 20 second videos of all the scenes I photographed.  Then I put them together as short movies with background music.

I visited Patapsco Valley State Park in Baltimore and Swallow Falls State Park in western Maryland. I love the photos I took of these parks, but when I put together the video footage, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they seemed a bit more interesting.

When I returned home, I figured I would visit a waterfall in my home county. It's nothing like what I can visit in Maryland.  It's tiny and not very picturesque at all, …

Markham Woods Tract Scenery

Well, 2016 is the last year of the 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas for Florida (BBA2).  The first one began in 1986 and lasted for 5 years.  This second one began in 2011.  I became involved in 2013, and it's been a wonderful way to motivate me to get out into nature during the hot months of May, June and July. This being the last year of the survey, we're focusing on certain strategic areas.  We use the U.S. Geological Survey Quad maps, and we divide each map into six blocks.  The 6-block of each quad is an area where we want to concentrate.  So I've spent a fair amount of time at the Markham Woods Tract of the Wekiva Springs State Park, since that's in the 6-block of the Sanford SW Quad.  I've been here a few times before, but I've never concentrated on the area because it seems like other areas are just a little bit better for finding wildlife.

However, I've been there quite frequently this May and June and Iv'e found that the area is much more expansive th…

Virginia Opossum with Young

Yesterday morning I drove out to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  It's one of my favorite places for birding, and I was hoping to photograph a Yellow-breasted Chat that had been located there the day before. I heard two calling and singing in different places, but neither was interested in coming into view so I could get his photo.  Still, it was a fun drive.  My favorite moment, though, had nothing to do with birds. I saw an opossum walking towards me.  At first I thought it had some sort of deformity. It looked like it had a growth coming out the left side of its head.  But as it came closer, I noticed she had 4 little ones clinging on to her!  Because one was covering her eyes, I think she was more concerned with her young than with me. So I crouched down and remained motionless to let it get closer. When it came closer than my camera could focus, I backed up. She seemed totally unconcerned with me until I stood up to walk away, at which point she wandered into the taller gras…