Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Have Chicks!

It was a gloomy lake check today with not a lot of Wintering birds to be seen. Not many in all of mile 8 mile loop. Time to head by the cemetery before getting back home. I had yet to see much activity at the Bald Eagle nest but I only get a brief window to peek in at them these days. I didn't have a lot of expectation. It should just be another quick drive through. But...

We have chicks!

Bald Eagle

Mom was busy tearing off chunks of breakfast and handing it off to the new arrivals.

Bald Eagle

I could only see one chick at first and it soon seemed to turn my way. Hi!

Bald Eagle

Then the second chick could be seen trying to stand right next to the first baby

Bald Eagle

"Enough play time! Eat your fish."

Bald Eagle

Nice to have new eaglets in the neighborhood after last year's bust. Now just have to sit back and watch them grow. It won't be long before they are flying off on their own.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Barber Park Gulls and Sparrows

I headed over to Barber Park which is on the outer edge of my birding loop from home. There was rain earlier but I have never seen the soccer area filled with water before. Surrounding that water were many, many gulls resting on the grass.

Ring-billed Gull

When you find a whole bunch of gulls around it is important to scan through them in case any rare species might show up. The most common gull in Central Florida is the Ring-billed Gull and most of the birds here where of that variety. They ranged in age from adult...

Ring-billed Gull

...to juvenile. Some would pick around in the grasses and water but the majority of the birds were just trying to catch a nap.

Ring-billed Gull

Standing alone near the edge of the ponding water was a Laughing Gull. They are found in large numbers on the coast so at least I got one stray in the flock.

Laughing Gull

I was trying to get back in the car while the wind continued to howl around but I heard a small sound off to my right. Out of the cloudy skies, a small flock of Savannah Sparrow landed in a tree and then dropped to the ground.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows are not uncommon in brushy areas around the state in Winter but I have never seen them in my urban area before. They picked around at the ground for a couple of minutes right in the parking lot.

Savannah Sparrow

One of the birds took a look to the sky and, suddenly, they all took wing and headed out toward the lake.

Savannah Sparrow

This park can hold some interesting things from time to time. I definitely wasn't expecting this particular grouping of birds. Tired of the wind, I headed home. Not much else was enjoying this weather, either.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Green-winged Teal

Early in the season I found a few female Green-winged Teal in the lake but haven't noticed them lately. This I discovered from a Facebook friend that a male was now out there. I swung by and, sure enough, there he was. I tried for a couple of shots before a jogger flushed it and other teal to the other side of the lake.

Green-winged Teal

For some reason I always thing that Blue-winged Teal and Green-winged Teal are the same size. Looking at this shot you can tell that Green-wings are much smaller.

Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal

The male headed up to shore to join a female. I am starting to see that I have damaged my lens somewhat, Any shots taken at the full 300 mm distance are definitely not in sharp focus any longer. Sigh.

Green-winged Teal

Time for a little drink of water.

Green-winged Teal

Here is a good example why Green-winged Teal are named that. The green really flashes when she turns to the light just right.

Green-winged Teal

One last shot of the male as he picks through the leaf litter.

Green-winged Teal

Despite my slightly crippled optics I finally got some pretty good shots of a male Green-winged Teal. All of my previous opportunities were shrouded in rain and clouds. I will have to check back in with this pair soon!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Checking for Chicks

I stopped by the nest site on the way home today. Hoping to see if there are any Bald Eagle chicks this year. I couldn't tell by just the drive by but Mom was at the nest while Dad was in the opposite tree.

Bald Eagle

I will have to keep checking. One thing I do notice is that something is wrong with my camera after accidentally dragging it off of the banding table this morning. Always something...

Monday, January 09, 2017

Mead Botanical Gardens

It was my first trip back to Mead Botanical Garden for the New Year and I was soon surrounded by the largest feeding flock of American Robins of the Winter. Problem was, they were all flying out of holly trees at waist level and quickly going into thickets across the path. I could not get a single bird out in the open for a photo. I could tell by the bird sounds all around me that they would be here for a while so I headed toward the Education Center for now.

Perched over the creek was a Red-shouldered Hawk scanning the trees for a meal.

Red-shouldered Hawk

As I approached the Cypress stand I noticed another Red-shouldered Hawk flying up into a tree. By the time I got in a good position for photos I could just make out that it was snacking on a frog.

Red-shouldered Hawk

There was not too much action around the boardwalk so I headed back to the 'island'. American Robins were still there and I finally got one bird out in the light but still behind branches.

American Robin

On the back side of a Brazilian Pepper shrub I could finally make out a few Cedar Waxwings darting in for berries. When a shadow passed over all the birds froze to stay hidden. It was the only way I could focus on this bird.

Cedar Waxwing

Soon, they resumed feeding and then would fly back to an adjacent tree. There have not been that many Cedar Waxwings around this season.

Cedar Waxwing

Also in the pepper tree was a female Northern Cardinal looking out over the pond.

Northern Cardinal

I headed back to the car. Along the way, a Great Egret was prowling along the path and paid zero attention to me as I got a bunch of shots as I walked beside it.

Great Egret

Finally got a nice feeding flock of Robins. Perhaps there will be a couple more before they all head back North.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year's Hike

I have used New Year's Day a hiking day for the past several years. Usually I choose a place I haven't been to before but today I decided to go back to Clay Island since there was a report of a pair of Groove-billed Ani hanging out by an observation tower. Not sure which direction to head (there was only one tower I knew of from years ago) I headed West. I only found a flock of Tree Swallows in the air after walking the first 15 minutes.

Tree Swallow

There were zero birds in the water. Not even a Common Gallinule. Just one American Alligator tucked back in the reeds.

American Alligator

I eventually came upon an observation tower. A Red-shouldered Hawk was calling across the canal. A few Palm Warblers were scattered just past the tower. Nothing else was in view.

Tower

I got to the top of the tower and was soon at eye level with a single Turkey Vulture drifting by. The rest of the area was clear and still. I was getting bored. I also just realized that I should have gone to the next turn than the one I took. Now I couldn't get to the original tower which was across the canal. Sigh.

Turkey Vulture

I follow the path in the only direction I could travel and eventually got to the observation tower where others had reported the Anis. They were a no-show for me. Really bored. I decided to head home. Up on the wires on the way back was a lone American Kestrel.

American Kestrel

I climbed back into the car feeling defeated. These first of the year hikes are usually teaming with birds. I rounded the curve and had a Sandhill Crane feeding in a yard.

Sandhill Crane

90 minutes of hiking. 4 bird photos. At least I know where some birds are. Back in my neighborhood. Happy New Year.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Largo Birding

Where to go the day after Christmas? I couldn't decide so I visited several spots all around Largo. First stop: War Veteran's Memorial Park where I have spent time during Christmas Bird Counts. It was not too birdy, but the Brown Pelicans feeding out in the channel.

Brown Pelican

I was taken aback by the lack of other birds in the park. The only other fun bird of note was a male Black and White Warbler moving at high speed near the point. Very little other activity in all of my hiking this morning.

Black and White Warbler

Since it was pretty quiet at that park I headed over to Largo Central Park Nature Preserve. Things were a bit more interesting here. I walked around the back side of the park and found a number of Black-hooded Parakeets up in the power station.

Black-hooded Parakeet

I started through a recently cut portion leading back to the park and noticed some small birds darting into some brush. It took me a bit to nail it down but was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a House Finch.

House Finch

Down in the freshly cut grass and brush were several Western Palm Warblers hopping around and feeding.

Western Palm Warbler

Halfway along the boardwalk in the woods a Downy Woodpecker dropped next to me and began pounding away on a tree. I took many, many photos just wanting the bird to look my direction at least once but he would not cooperate so I ended up with most of the shots becoming blurry.

Downy Woodpecker

One of my presents was a wide angle lens. It should be fun to play around with from time to time. Have to practice some exposure times, for sure.

Wide angle

Heading back to the parking lot I spotted a Pied-billed Grebe swimming down the creek toward me.

Pied-billed Grebe

Just beyond that was a juvenile Little Blue Heron feeding so intently that it never paid attention to me as I took a couple dozen shots.

Little Blue Heron

Just nearing the restrooms I saw a bird flash out and back to the trees. It was an Eastern Phoebe plucking insects from the air and returning to its perch.

Eastern Phoebe

I turned toward the car and had a Northern Mockingbird pop up out of a bush. Who can resist that shot?

Northern Mockingbird

I then headed over to John S. Taylor Park. It is a park that is hidden in plain sight, almost. It is surrounded by office buildings and homes but is fairly large and holds different birds than the other parks. Like Ring-billed Gulls which were relaxing all along the shoreline and atop signs. Which profile do you prefer? To the right...

Ring-billed Gull

...or to the left?

Ring-billed Gull

I love how this Common Gallinule looks like it was carved out of wax and the color scheme really works for me, too.

Common Gallinule

Up in the pines was a lone Anhinga just relaxing.

Anhinga

There wasn't too much more to look find so I had to take more shots of the gulls on the way out. This one seems a little younger than the others around.

Ring-billed Gull

This one is definitely an older bird

Ring-billed Gull

Not a bad way to spend a long morning of birding. However, it will soon be time to head back to Orlando and home.