Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 St. Pete CBC, Part 1

That time of year again! Time to head to St. Pete to count as many birds as we can in our selected count circle for the Christmas Bird Count. This year I was assigned to Area #5 in the very urban St. Pete area near Tropicana Field. Being so city like, we didn't get some species I would have expected nearly anywhere else (no Carolina Wren?) but we managed to get some nice birds along the way.

We began at Crescent Lake before dawn searching for owls in the neighborhoods. No luck. Right at dawn we returned to the lake park and started counting every thing we could see. Besides the huge number of Muscovy and Domestic duck all over the Northern side, we had a Wood Stork on a tree as theSun rose just behind the treetops.

Wood Stork

Nearby, a few Green Herons lurked in the shadows.

Green Heron

As we tried to ID a warbler in the underbrush we flushed a Black-crowned Night Heron that flew out to rest next to the stork.

Black-crowned Night Heron

There were other species added to the list but this little Gray Squirrel insisted on getting its photo taken. Fine...

TK

Small flock of wintering duck were scattered around but we decided to come back better when the light was better for some photos. They will appear in the next post. For now, we headed to Coffee Pot Bayou to the roosting spot of Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants. There were a lot but I enjoyed having a couple right next to the road for some good shots.

Brown Pelican

We also spotted a Roseate Spoonbill trying to hide in the mangrove roost and numerous Anhinga.

Brown Pelican

Next, we headed to the beach as the tide was low and we hoped to get some good shorebirds to add to the list. Killian took up a spot on the end of a jetty to record bird numbers as Jim called them out while peering through his scope.

Killian

Many birds, like this Dunlin, were close enough to not need a scope.

Dunlin

There were a lot of Least Sandpipers in the close flock. I can't recall having so many shorebirds stay so close to me. They usually scatter upon approach. I guess this area is so full of visitors that the birds take little notice.

Least Sandpiper

If something else would startle the flock they would quickly return right next to us.

Least Sandpiper

There was a nice gathering of birds loafing farther down the beach so we headed in that direction. Along the way, a Eurasian Collared-Dove strolled the beach as a Loggerhead Shrike sat atop a light pole.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Our main target was counting the 65 American White Pelican jammed at the edge of the sand spit. There were also scores of terns and Black Skimmers behind them.

American White Pelican

A Reddish Egret soon flew in and began its dancing through the shallow water in search of a meal.

Reddish Egret

We also spotted a single Herring Gull resting with a few Laughing Gulls and some Royal Terns.

Herring Gull

We were hearing Monk Parakeets near the parking lot and Killian found them on our second trip out here. They were in a tree right over a few folks getting in some training. Not a care in the world.

Monk Parakeet

Most of the Monk Parakeets were by them selves but I liked this cute pair getting their feather blown about in the breeze.

Monk Parakeet

Them they would snuggle and preen one another.

Monk Parakeet

But, we needed to head to our next stop which was a small park by a boat slip. Not too much around but a Northern Mockingbird, some Mytle Warblers, and few White Ibis.

White Ibis

Finishing up our first areas so quickly, we decided to head to the golf course a little early. We were told to return later, however, as a lot of golfers were still arriving and they thought it would be better for us to return in the afternoon. OK. Time for lunch and then back to look for a Sapsucker and other birds at the lake.

We thought the golf course might not hold that many birds, though, so we weren't totally enthused about it anyway. Boy, would we be in for a surprise. All that in the next post!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Return of the Coyote

I headed to check on the Bald Eagle nest at the cemetery like I always do heading home in the daylight. I rounded the back road and was quite surprised by a Coyote right on the edge on the lawn.

Coyote

Haven't seen her here in quite some time. She was a little weary as she slowly wound her way through the headstones as I tried for a few photos.

Coyote

She took a final look back at me and suddenly vanished into the matching gray all around.

Coyote

Why was I here? Oh, yeah. Eagles. Didn't see them on this trip...

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Snapping Turtle Soaks in the Rain

Ever since Hurricane Matthew swept through in early October we have been bone dry. Nearly two months of dry air. Today we had a light rain come for a visit for a while which was needed. It seems it was fairly welcome to some of the wildlife including an unusual sight just outside our office door. A Common Snapping Turtle.

Common Snapping Turtle

I grabbed my camera from the car and spent some time circling the beast and 'snapping' photos. The rain was barely a mist but the turtle seemed to be trying to soak it all up.

Common Snapping Turtle

Not sure where this Common Snapping Turtle came from. It was headed toward the canal below a steep drop off but that algae on its shell suggests it has been resting in water nearby. Trouble is, besides that canal there is not much standing water close by. Odd.

Common Snapping Turtle

It was not a large specimen. Probably had a shell around football size. I has seen then many time large in local marshes.

Common Snapping Turtle

I love getting close to Common Snapping Turtles. You tend to forget all the spikes they possess all over their heads. I especially love the chin whiskers!

Common Snapping Turtle

We never saw where this modern dinosaur ended up but he moved on shortly after I headed back inside. Not too long after that, the rain was gone as well. Sigh.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Barber Park

I often drive past Barber Park or drive through the parking lot in case anything is sitting in the front pond but today I decided to stop and take a walk out to the lake and see what I could find out in the fields.

A train of Muscovy ducks were hiking toward the marsh in the center of the parking areas and Eastern Phoebes and several Western Palm Warbler were snatching insects. This Palm hopped right over to me.

Western Palm Warbler

There is a retention pond between the parking areas and the lake just off to the side of the soccer fields. They have planted some native plants in here to make it look nice and it attracts some nice birds from time to time. There were Phoebes, a Belted Kingfisher, and a Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on me as I made my way around toward the lake.

Great Blue Heron

I could hear Yellow-rumped Warblers all along the tree lines but they were not making themselves seen for more than a second. I circled back around the opposite side of the canal and posted up for a few minutes. Eventually, a single bird pause just in front of me for a few seconds.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Western Palm Warblers were much more conspicuous as they flitted out into the open, fed in the grasses, and perched on shrubby branches just about everywhere.

Western Palm Warbler

One more close-up. How can I resist?

Western Palm Warbler

On the way out I spotted a White-winged Dove trying to hide in the shadows. Did not expect that here. I took a look high overhead and spotted a Bald Eagle soaring over the lake.

Bald Eagle

I headed back to the car and had a single Muscovy Duck just coming back out of the marsh. Usually they are mostly black. I can't recall a silver one. Much less with a Mohawk!

Muscovy Duck

I did not have as many species as I had hoped for but it was a nice walk. Where are all the birds this season? Seems thin.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hooded Mergansers are Back

I never miss a chance to drive through the Maitland Center Parkway complex after my Sunday banding sessions. Mainly it is to keep an eye out for the return of the wintering Hooded Mergansers. Well, today was the day! Six birds in all but they made a hasty retreat under the parking structure as I began to take photos. The light wasn't that forgiving, anyway. There will be plenty of opportunities for shots for a few more months.

Hooded Merganser

As I began to pull away I heard the grunting of the Anhinga that likes to sun next to the pond. It stuck its head out for a look and scold. Who can pass up that close-up...?

Anhinga

A nice way to end the day.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Eagle Pair at the Nest

How is November halfway over? Been too busy, I suppose.

Finally had a chance to get through Greenwood Cemetery in the daylight (this being Saturday) and was pleased to see both Bald Eagles at the nest with one sitting inside! Maybe eggs this year? Last year was a bust.

Bald Eagle

Going to get crazy busy but I hope to be able to make some more stops to check in from time to time. Good luck, you two.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Back at the Nest

A quick swing through Greenwood Cemetery yielded a nice surprise. This is the first time I have seen one of the Bald Eagles has venture to the nest this season.

Bald Eagle

Fingers are crossed for a brood this year.