Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eerie Winking Owl Connection

Not sure if you saw the earlier post about our banding day at Lake Lotus on April 12th but it turned into a bit of a connection in my 'normal' life.

I showed the family the shots of a Barred Owl I photographed that appeared to be winking as it rested in a tree next to one of our nets.

Barred Owl

A few days later, my wife decided to try out the newer ALDI supermarket to pick up some groceries. She returned with many good bargains and a bottle of wine, priced at just $2.50.

Wine label

Coincidence? You decide.

By the way, the Merlot is pretty good. We will try the Shiraz next.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Earth Day at Lake Lotus

We held banding demonstrations to the annual Earth Day event at Lake Lotus today. We captured Gray Catbirds, a Brown Thrasher, a Northern Cardinal, and two Carolina Wrens. The best data from the day came from the fact that the Wrens were two that we banded at last year's Earth Day event!

This means that the ones here stay here. Not seeming to cross the river. We have not recaptured these birds on 'our' side but have banded many others. Nice to know.

Best bird observed at the event was not even one we could band. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew in mid-morning.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

It was a tough job to get any shots since it perched in bad light but I got the best I could.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The bird flew through the treetops for a while searching for and eating bugs. I am pretty sure this shot shows the bird with a bug in its bill.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Many birds were seen as the winds picked up and slowed the banding effort so it was nice to have a little distraction in our morning.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Near the end of our day we also had a thrilling fly over of a Swallow-tailed Kite. Good way to end the day.

The full story of the day is over at the banding blog. Stop by and see the other photos from the day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak of a Different Color

I walked through the kitchen and took a glance out through the back window, as I always do, and noticed a bird hopping down into the Cherry Laurel tree. It didn't appear to be the usual Catbirds that have been using this tree as a perch on their way to the next feeder or birdbath.

Size seemed a little different, though. Grabbed the spare bins and peered through them to find a Rose-breasted Grosbeak! Not one of the earlier males I had seen before but a female.

I spent the next 90 minutes trying to get a better look and hopefully a photo but, man, this was one skittish bird. It was moving from back to side to front at different points but every time I so much as cracked a door open it would bolt.

Perseverance paid off, in the long run. The bird finally settled into a spot below the kitchen window where I had the screen open and had the camera in hand.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

She spent a few minutes feeding under the feeders, this time not seeming to notice me as I leaned closer toward the windowsill.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I love the striking facial pattern and the glowing spots on the wings.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Thanks for stopping by, little lady!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Red Fox Sighting

Heading home after dropping off the boys at school. My brain told me to go ahead and make a detour over to the Greenwood Cemetery to see if the Bald Eagles were in a good position for a photograph but, more importantly, to see if I could spot the reported Red Fox family was visible.

As I entered the main gates there was an adult fox right in front of me! It quickly headed toward the lake as I approached only giving me a few seconds to snap this shot as I slowed the car but aimed the camera while still moving.

Red Fox

Hope it wasn't you that took out the Killdeer nest...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More House Finch Babies

Still a lot of House Finch action. The babies seem even more hungry than they were the day before. Now they are actually demanding attention.

House Finch

At times, the adult shows them his open, empty mouth as if saying, "Hey! All empty!" then he digs back in and feeds the hungry chicks.

House Finch

For some reason, the yellow Finch is left alone most of the time.

House Finch

Sometimes the chicks seem to feed each other while Dad refills.

House Finch

Fun to watch through the day.

Killdeer Watch, Day 12/Green-winged Teal

Another new duck for our tiny neighborhood lake!

As I was driving the boys to school I noticed a small bird in the lake right near shore. It definitely had a shape I was not familiar with on this lake.

I returned to the lake a few minutes later and decided to make a check on the Killdeer nest first.

Just near the nest area, the Peacock owned by a resident across the street wandered by.


There was a heavy rain yesterday so I didn't stop to check on the nest but was more surprised to see no evidence at all of the Killdeer. No parents. No eggs.

Further investigation found a single egg shell near the nest but what of the other 3?


More checking will have to be done later. Maybe the foxes got them? Maybe they hatched and are hiding out? Hmmmm...

So, I figured I would try to get some other bird shots. First stop was the large Mallard brood. The one definite difference was there were now only 9 out of the 15 original ducklings.

"Psssst. Don't look now, but there is a guy taking our picture!"


Spotted the small bird I noticed earlier out near the 'bird island' near a few Mallards. Much smaller than them. Maybe half the size. Lighter in color, too. It was slowly heading toward the northern shore and I made my way around the lake to try and intercept it.

Luck was with me. The duck waded ashore and fed along the shoreline. It was in heavy shade but there was a tell-tale sign. A glint of green from under the grey-ish feathers. I was hoping for something more rare but it seems like a Green-winged Teal hen has found our humble lake.

Green-winged Teal

This would be a first sighting of this species on these lakes in all these years. The light here reflects the color as a blue at this angle.

Green-winged Teal

A pretty little duck.

Green-winged Teal

Though she seems to be keeping an eye on overhead threats.

Green-winged Teal

Not to worry. Only an Osprey looking for a meal in the shallow waters of Lake Davis.

The new bird sightings keep getting more interesting.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


A couple of things outside along with the House Finches today. The first good shot was a Common Grackle scarfing down a few sunflower seeds before heading off.

Common Grackle

Just a bit later I was stopped straight in my tracks by the bright bird I caught in my sights. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was sitting all comfortably on the wife's sunflower feeder. Sweet!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Only 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been seen in our yard over the years and they always show up around the same exact day.

I snapped away like crazy and got a shot of the bird with a House Finch trying to ignore the transient visitor. My favorite shot.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

What other treats await us this migration season? Stay tuned...

House Finch Babies

A whole bit of noise from the feeders outside the kitchen window this afternoon. Turns out that there are new residents. House Finch babies have left the nest and joined their parents for food!

House Finch

Our yellow variant stopped by quickly and then bolted.

House Finch

I am enjoying the new chick's little 'horns' of new head feathers.

House Finch

Our orange variant seems to be one of the most busy adults in charge of feeding the young ones.

House Finch

Good luck, kids!

Painted Bunting

I have mentioned the Painted Bunting in the Wekiva post from to day but wanted to share a couple more shots in this post just for more "Ah!".

Painted Bunting

A perfect rainbow from Nature.

Painted Bunting

"Who's that behind the big eye?"

Painted Bunting

Brief but exciting.

Exciting Day at Lake Lotus

This morning at Lake Lotus was excellent. I was going to add some stuff in this spot but it got so big that it is best to head over to the main Wekiva site.

Head to the Wekiva blog here to see the owls and one Painted Bunting Shot. More Bunting shots will follow on this site.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Killdeer Watch, Day 8

A new twist to the Killdeer watch.

As I was returning to the van after taking the pictures seen below a resident of the lakeside rushed out to ask what I was taking pictures of with me 'high-powered' camera. Perhaps I was casing houses for later robberies? Didn't he notice I never once pointed the camera toward ANY house? Ah, paranoia.

We got to talking and I pointed out the Killdeer nest just across from his residence. The female was still in place, incubating the 4 eggs.


As we talked, he revealed that they have seen a Red Fox coming in and out of the culvert not far from the nest area. I have never seen a fox in the area in all these year but I would be sure to investigate when I can while keeping an eye out for the Killdeer.

Also near the Killdeer nest was a Lesser Yellowlegs.

Lesser Yellowlegs

More Yellowlegs are also around.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Starting to appreciate their beauty the more I see them this year.

Lesser Yellowlegs

I have been trying to get a good family portrait of the Mallard hen with her ducklings and finally got one. I count 15. No raptors around so maybe most will make it.


However, it could have been 16. As I was walking down to find the family I spotted this unfortunate duckling that didn't make it. For some reason I find this image compelling.


Nearby, a pair of Fish Crows seemed to be courting. I have seen several crows carrying nesting material overheard for the past few days. This crow caught my eye because of the white patch on it's head.

Fish Crow

The Black-necked Stilts are still around and I am trying to get a good exposure.

Black-necked Stilt

The Spotted Sandpiper was found again but is very skittish today.

Spotted Sandpiper

It is always to find a sunning Anhinga around the lakes.


More discoveries await! A good April, so far.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spotted Sandpiper Back Again

At first I mistook the Solitary Sandpiper as a Spotted Sandpiper. Just not used to the sandpipers at our lake that often.

Today, as I was trying to get a good shot of the Mallard family with the 15 ducklings, a Spotted flew in right next to them!

Spotted Sandpiper

Sweet vindication. Sweet bird for the lake for yet another year.

While the lake levels are low it is a good time to keep checking for unusual shorebirds in the middle of Orlando.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Indigo Bunting Taunts Me

I hear it nearly everyday. I had thought it flew off last week but it still here. However, that darned bird keeps taunting me with crummy shots. If it is ever in the clear it takes off as soon as I step outside. So, all I am left with are bad shots through the kitchen window.

Today, it feed below the feeder in the shade.

Indigo Bunting

My hope is to get one clear shot in the backyard. Been using taped calls to try and lure it closer to no avail.

Indigo Bunting

I figure there won't be too many more chances to get it in a good spot before it takes off but I try to enjoy the fact that it is even here in the first place.

Indigo Bunting

I can still hear it buzzing now.

Meanwhile, back at Lake Davis...

Poppa Killdeer takes a turn at protecting the eggs.


There are also a few Black-necked Stilts along the shoreline.

Black-necked Stilt

The Solitary Sandpiper is still around near the Killdeer nest.

Solitary Sandpiper

Back home, a Blue Jay checks out the feeders.

Blue Jay

Many Warblers are flying through but I haven't managed any good shots of them as they are staying well up in the canopy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cedar Waxwing Feeding Frenzy

I had my head wrapped around the fact that I probably wouldn't get a good shot of the Waxwings this year. Especially, after I was so close on Easter Sunday. The lot next to my in-laws home contains a Loquat tree where I got some good shots last Easter. The birds flocked to the tree again just as the homeowner brought out her 3 dogs for a run.

Scared the birds right off. Like it is her house or something! The nerve. Figured that was my best chance. Oh, well.

Then, I had an early day at work. As I arrived in the parking lot Waxwings were all over the trees but flushing easily. I kept it front of mind as I headed into the office. Once released for the day I headed across the street to Lake Lily to see if the Limpkins were around. Didn't see them but a huge flock of Waxwings flew into a palm tree for a feeding frenzy.

Finally, my chance.

The birds were everywhere around the palms, gulping down all of the ripe fruit they could as quickly as possible. The light wasn't great as a front moved the clouds in but after 50 photos I managed a few I liked.

It was very difficult to keep up with the birds as they fed. Mostly they kept their backs to me or were shoved aside by other birds. Only a few times did I get a full side view.

Cedar Waxwing

This bird seemed to rest on it's wing tips in a rather emperor-like recline. "More fruit, servant!"

Cedar Waxwing

An awesome sight as the birds whipped in and out of the tree and gorged themselves.

Cedar Waxwing

The Waxwings won't be here too much longer. Heck they could be leaving tomorrow. But I got the shots I was hoping for and more.