Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meet the Limpkin Family

We were on our way to a friends house and had a short time to take a walk around a local lake smack in the middle of a very active city environment. I have seen some birds here at Lake Lily in the past but that was usually during the middle of Winter. Spring is here so I didn't expect too much.

There were a few ducks, as usual, but all of the warblers had moved on. A flock of White Ibis prowled the shoreline but not much else was on the west side of the lake. Perhaps the festival that was now wrapping up had something to do with it.

We continued on to the Eastern side of the boardwalk and did find some Boat-tailed Grackles and various turtles. I started to notice a ton of Apple Snail eggs on the bull rushes as e headed this way. Why didn't I see any Limpkin here? They LOVE Apple Snails.

Of course, I have never seen a Limpkin around this area before in the past so why would I expect one here. Except for the buffet that seemed to be brewing all around the lake...

We ventured farther out on the back boardwalk and did manage to find a relaxing Common Moorhen.

Common Moorhen

Just past the end of the boardwalk we spotted an Anhinga with the craziest hairdo I have ever seen on one. He was hanging out with a couple of friends and allowed dozens of shots.


That was a nice end to the walk, I figured, as we had made it almost all the way around the lake and were getting close to the van again. Suddenly, however, a pair of Limpkin appeared! Both were near the sidewalk and seemed to be actively collecting snails.

I moved in close for some shots. The birds didn't seem to even notice me.


Nor did I notice the other inhabitants right under my lens. As I moved on from my present subject, Carolyn mentioned that there were chicks down in the rushes. What do ya know? There were two fluffy chicks resting on the edge of the lake. The floor or their home was littered with discarded Apple Snail shells.


Just to the right of these two was yet another chick! It followed Dad in and tried to help pry loose the sweet snail flesh.


Dad went straight back to snail hunting and walked right toward me. I had a difficult time keeping focus as he was approaching so quickly. Still ended up nice and sharp.


Meanwhile, one of the chicks waited and stretched on the shore.


Soon, it tried to emulate its father in the snail collecting business.


My favorite shot, though, was when Dad was coming back with a snack and the chick excitedly flapped its sprouting wing feathers.


So, a whim of a walk turned into an exciting photo shoot. The kind of happy accident I love.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Barred Owl Baby

The monthly Mead Garden bird count turned up fewer birds than expected. However, there is a new addition to the Garden. A new Barred Owl!

Mamma was sitting close to her chick but they were both in a tree easily seen by anyone who cared to just look up.

Barred Owl

In fact, on the way back to the parking lot later, I noticed a family enjoying a picnic right under the tree where the owls were resting. I pointed up and the kids were thrilled.

Spring is in full gear!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Romeo Cardinal at Work

He is back.

Last year I had a post about a co-worker calling me over reporting a bird calling on the corner of the building. Turned out to be a male Cardinal singing his heart out.

A year later and he is back. A month later but...

It is easy shooting when they sit outside a tinted window.

Northern Cardinal

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great-crested Flycatcher

Ah, one of my favorite sounds in the Spring. Calling Great-crested Flycatchers.

Several have been roaming the neighborhood. This one was out at Mead Garden with a mate just flying and calling through the trees.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Even when the other birds are moving North this is a welcome sight, indeed.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Summer Tanager

A very rainy April morning and I just got back from picking up my oldest Scout. I glanced out through the back door window and saw a little rainbow in the gloom.

Summer Tanager

It was the best I could do in the pouring rain. It stayed for a few hours, shifting through the soggy feed but it sure brightened the day!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Greenwood Juvenile Eagles

One more trip through the Greenwood cemetery before the young eagles fly off. 2 were spotted up in the pines about 50 yards from the old nest tree.

Bald Eagle

Hope they find safety on their journey.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sanibel Island, Take 2

One more trip around Ding Darling. This time right at dawn. A few more birds, including Spoonbills, but still not a huge amount of anything. Was hoping to find a Mangrove Cuckoo but no luck.

Nearing the backstretch, I did find a rather comfy looking Brown Pelican.

Brown Pelican

Decided to take a trail we passed yesterday in hopes of some Vireos but they were not to be found. Many Common Ground Doves were wandering about, though.

Common Ground Dove

At the far end of the trail was a lone Tri-colored Heron fishing. On the way back, all I could manage was a rabbit.


On the way home, we swung into Ponce DeLeon Park at Punta Gorda. The bird guides listed Cuckoos as being here, too, but we only found more pelicans and a cooperative Green Heron.

Green Heron

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sanibel Island, Take 1

The wife and I finally took a vacation. All 2 1/2 days of it.

We headed to Sanibel for a little break. I haven't been there since I was a child when I lived in Key West. The tales of tons of shells has always been the draw. Now, beach combers are on the shores from sunrise to sunsets (and beyond) so the chances of finding nice shells just there on the beach is very diminished.

It was soon discovered, however, that by walking out a bit into the shallow waters you can start to feel some shells under you feet just under the sand. We spent numerous hours lying in the two-foot water scooping through the sand as we soaked up some rays.

We came back with some nice unbroken specimens. Some of the best were still occupied so we had to return them to their homes. Shadow boxes are in the planning stages.

The hardest part for me was not having the camera attached to me at all times. Especially with some birds cruising the beach in great light. I complied with the restraint for a lot of the trip.

I did get to take a few pictures on a couple of strolls, though.

We also made a stop out at Ding Darling, my first stop there ever, but the birds were not as plentiful as I was hoping for. Made some ID shots of Red Knots and herons but the numbers I had read about in the past were just not there.

One bird that was in close range was this Anhinga way up in a mangrove tree.


The birds tempting me the most were the few shorebirds that were fairly oblivious to all of the human activity. There was a Black-bellied Plover hanging out close to us on day one that I just really wanted a shot of. Fortunately, it was still there when we took a walk later in the day.

Black-bellied Plover

Also feeding along the waves were several Willet. I think this may one of my favorite shots of one in a while.


The other fun birds were some terns feeding off-shore and the Brown Pelicans that were diving for fish mere feet from us during the stay.

Brown Pelican

For time to time we were also graced with visits from porpoise feeding just a little farther out in the waves.

At night I would take some lighthouse shots and we planned to make the rounds of the island again tomorrow. That will be part two.