Monday, March 30, 2009

Lesser Yellowlegs, plus...

Went to look for the Lesser Yellowlegs this morning to see if it had stuck around. Indeed! Plus, it brought a friend.


Nice to get a Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs in one place. Then add some better lighting and you are set.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lesser Yellowlegs

I was heading the store, minding my business, when I spotted a bird feeding along the shore of Lake Davis. I park immediately and grabbed the camera and rushed across the street.

The light was fading but I managed a couple shots for ID purposes.

Lesser Yellowlegs

This is the first Lesser Yellowlegs I have ever seen at Lake Davis. We have had other shore birds over the years but not this species.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Oh, yeah. I need to go grocery shopping...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Backyard is Getting Quiet

The American Goldfinch flocks are thinning out but at least a new visitor stopped by this morning. A pair of Chipping Sparrows.

We get a few every year but not for very long. I still have trouble tracking them by calls since I rarely hear them. They did stop in the tree for a bit to preen and give me a few looks.

Chipping Sparrow

The Indigo Bunting continues to tease me by staying way back in the yard.

Indigo Bunting

On the way home, I found a gorgeous female Northern Cardinal. Can't recall the last time I saw a bill so red on our local variety.

Northern Cardinal

Monday, March 23, 2009

Huge Flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds

I have never noticed many Brown-headed Cowbirds in the Orlando area except for over at Mead Garden where I witnessed a Northern Parula feeding a chick of this parasitic species many years ago.

Today, however, I found a flock of around 200 at a park toward the airport.

It was raining and I had some chores to do, otherwise I wouldn't have even been on that side of town. Since I documented a Snow Goose out here a couple of years ago I decided to see what was in the ponds.

I heard them well before seeing them. They carpeted the trees and were flying to and from the small pond.

Brown-headed Cowbird

They sometimes landed right near me, when they weren't being flushed by the other park visitors. This male gave me a pose for a few seconds.

Brown-headed Cowbird

As did a female.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Why were they all over the pond's shore? Someone had spread many piles of bird seed all over the place.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Meanwhile, the Mallard family was having none of it...

Brown-headed Cowbird

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lake Lotus, March 22nd

A few migrants are still around but nothing major. Did find some fun birds over at the lake side.

Head to the Wekiva blog here to see the birds we banded and others cruising the waters.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Carolina Wren

Well, that was a surprise.

Not that a Carolina Wren was in the backyard but that I actually saw it today. We have had the wrens in the yard off and on for many years but haven't heard any for quite a while.

So, to have the Catbird back this weekend and now the Carolina Wren, fabulous.

Carolina Wren

Oh, to be able to sit out back all morning...but I am late for work.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Goldfinch Photoshoot

Hold on. A lot of pictures coming in this longer than usual post.

Many, many weeks have gone by with very little Goldfinch activity and suddenly the numbers have jumped 10 fold! I was seeing only 3-4 finches over the past month and then last week there were 3-4 dozen. I figured this was the time to try my yearly photoshoot in the backyard.

It started as a test when folks were saying birds don't like birders wearing white. Really? So, one morning, I dressing all in white except for the blue gardening shoes and sat 10 feet from the Goldfinch feeders. 30 minutes later, I had the best shots ever of my backyard Goldfinches. At least they don't seem to mind white.

To me, it is more about body language. If birds don't sense you are trying to eat them then they tend to allow closer approach at home and in the field.

Since then, this has become a yearly event for me as I try, at least once every season, to get some up-close Goldfinch shots. Not always in white but always sitting as close as I can. Then I wait for the finches to build their trust, usually after 10-15 minutes, and fire away. This is the first year I have tried with the bigger lens but all shots were taken with me sitting out in the open about 10 feet away from the feeders.

The first bird to show up in the yard was not a finch but a Gray Catbird! I was missing our annual resident this year but here was one at least passing through.

Gray Catbird

I didn't have too long to wait for the first scouts to drop down to feed. It is hard to tell the birds from the falling leaves at this time of year (Florida oaks drop most of their leaves just before the new ones emerge right before Spring unlike other trees that drop them in the Fall) as the finches sit in the branches and pretty much fall down toward the feeders.

The females are always first to arrive.

American Goldfinch

They sometimes take a quick glance at me after they land to make sure I will stay put. Then they begin feeding as if I wasn't even there.

American Goldfinch

Another finch waits its turn.

American Goldfinch

One of the Camphor trees from the driveway dropped a rather large branch a couple months ago and I decided to 'plant' it near the thistle feeders so that when this day would come I could try for more natural looking shots. Seems to have worked nicely and this is one of my favorite shots of the morning.

American Goldfinch

I really enjoy seeing all of the communal feeding. Sometimes there are a dozen finches all bunched up on the sock feeder.

American Goldfinch

Eventually, the males begin to arrive once they see that the females aren't being gobbled up. Though a fully yellow male is a gorgeous site, I rather enjoy the molting stages with the mix of Winter and Spring in the feathers.

American Goldfinch

Thistle and sunflower kernels...yum...

American Goldfinch

"Are you sure that giant eye is OK?"

American Goldfinch

Which feeder to choose?

American Goldfinch

"Come on, dear. It looks like the buffet is in full service. Look, there's Gertrude!"

American Goldfinch

Though the newly leafing oaks blocked a lot of the sun, I think is was a nice photo session. Within about a month, all of our Goldfinches will be gone and I will have to begin the Winter vigil all over again.

American Goldfinch

Thanks for the time, kids. Have a safe trip back North.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Limpkins Are Setting Up House

I was wondering if the Limpkin Family would return to try and start a new generation over at Lake Lily this year as they did last year. I wandered over to the lake a few days ago and was kind of dismayed that the reeds were devoid of Apple Snail eggs. THey were everywhere a year ago signaling good feeding for the Limpkins. There was no sign of the birds, either.

As I left work the following night, however, I heard the distinctive call of a Limpkin out in the dark next to the lake.

Dropping by a couple of days later, I found the pair copulating near the lake's edge and a bit later they retreated into the reeds to spruce up what appears to be the new nest site.


Now to wait for the chicks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunbathing Goldfinch

I was staring out the window to count Goldfinches when this little girl landed in the Fire Bush and quickly listed to the right an spread her feathers. She looked a bit ragged.

American Goldfinch

I quickly realized that she was just catching some rays and she began to perk up as I shot through the back window.

American Goldfinch

A few minutes later she sat upright and preened for a while before returning to the feeders.

Guess we all need a little sun break from time to time.

Monday, March 09, 2009

American Bittern Closer Look

Part of yesterday's post about banding at Lake Lotus had a shot of an American Bittern. Here are some of the other shots from that fun find.

I jumped the river while our banding project was going on in hopes of spotting the Short-tailed Hawk that has been reported recently but, instead, came upon fellow birder Paul. We were just chatting about the day when, suddenly, an American Bittern snagged a frog from the the lily pads below us.

Neither of us saw it until then. This shot in bad light shows the frog's body in the Bittern's bill.

American Bittern

We quickly repositioned ourselves to get the Sun behind our backs so that we could try to get better shots. Usually, Bitterns are so secretive that you rarely can see them. They stay situated in tall grasses motionless until food wanders past. This one decided to do more hunting in the open.

American Bittern

This pose is closer to how they stand in the reeds. We soon noticed the bright pink snail eggs on the vegetation behind the bird.

American Bittern

I hadn't seen this species since literally running into one during a bird count near Lake Apopka years ago. I was trying to get a closer view of another bird and started wandering into the cattails and walked into it.

American Bittern

I couldn't manage a shot of that bird but this one was a very willing subject. An excellent find in a nearby location.

American Bittern

Now I know where to look more closely.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lake Lotus Banding

Still not a lot happening around here. However, we did have a fairly good day banding at Lake Lotus today. Seems like Spring is finally on the way!

Jump over to the Wekiva blog here to check out the birds we banded and others we saw through the morning.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Tri-colored Heron

I went back to search the reeds for a blackbird again. Nothing special but there was a nice Tri-colored Heron preening on the fence on the edge of the lake.

Tri-colored Heron

If that is all there is, I'll take it. Pretty birds.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Robins Finally Feast

Every year about this time the American Robins swoop down to our Camphor trees to snatch up every berry they can grab. Luckily, I was home this morning to witness the frenzy.

American Robin

I watched and tried to get some shots before hearing Cedar Waxwings. I headed to the back of the house to see if they had landed back there but the first thing I saw was a male Red-winged Blackbird at a feeder. They show up once breeding and nesting starts down the road.

Red-winged Blackbird

Then, a Blue Jay flew down to grab a peanut from the same feeder.

Blue Jay

Back out front, other birds were drawn in by the Robin calls and feeding. The neighborhood Red-bellied Woodpeckers joined in to search for bugs.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Moments later, a Downy Woodpecker added to the species count.

Downy Woodpecker

But the Robins dominated the trees.

American Robin

Eat up Robins! Soon, they will depart to the North.