Friday, December 31, 2010

A Couple More Banded Birds

Spent another part of a day drying nets and caught a couple more birds.

Got one of our resident Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

Though being quiet lately, the Western Palm Warblers are still around. Pretty bird. You can still see some of the coloration that are more noticeable when they molt for Spring.

Western Palm Warbler

I had to remove a few Mourning Doves, too. I don't bother banding them as they are easily food for predators. Once they all flushed, signaling a predator nearby, I folded the nets for the day so as not to offer an easy meal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pine Warbler

Had to begin drying out mist nets after we were rained out at the banding site. I wasn't looking to do any real banding but once I caught a Pine Warbler I couldn't resist. Got this beautiful bird halfway through the day.

Pine Warbler

Note: The next morning I noticed this same bird feeding up in the oaks. Could clearly see the band as it went from branch to branch.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BirdCam Back by the Tray Feeder

Goldfinches are few and far between so I decided to move the cam back to the tray feeder. After sorting through the 300 images I did find a few OK ones.

Of course, there are always Mourning Doves around.

Mourning Dove

Plus the Northern Cardinals. Both males...

Northern Cardinal

...and the females.

Northern Cardinal

The Carolina Wrens bred in the yard this year and are starting to hit the feeders after exploring all of the nooks and crannies around the deck.

Carolina Wren

As usual, most of the discarded photos are of jumping squirrels. Lots of blurred images while they bound in and out of the tray. However, now and then they stop long enough to get a pretty photo shot.

Gray Squirrel

We shall see how long I can stand editing out all of the bad shots. For now, though, I will keep watching this view.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I debated getting up in the middle of the early morning to watch the lunar eclipse. I was tired already. Seen them before.

Oh, alright. Always pretty.


At least with my disabled auto-focus I can still get some OK astronomical shots.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Redhead on Lake Davis

It has been a few years since we had one in downtown Orlando so it was a nice surprise to get a call from a fellow birder who spotted a Redhead duck out on the lake among the hundreds of Ring-necked Ducks that arrived for the Winter.

I have been checking the flock everyday in hopes of finding something different but this is the first different bird spotted. I hurried out but it was getting dark so all I could get was a pretty good ID shot.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Counting Birds in the Rain for CBC

Well. That was fun. Forecasters were wrong. Again. We were suppose to have a few hours of good weather in the morning and then rain. The rain started just at 7 AM, the time we started searching for birds for the St. Pete Christmas Bird Count.

I met Bill Pranty at Sawgrass Lake Park at dawn. The rain had just started lightly but I stepped out to hear a Great Horned Owl. Good start, but the rain only got harder and the birds were avoiding the rain more than us.

It was so rainy I just left my camera in the car most of the day. Then, at 11 AM, the clouds broke and the Sun streamed forth. Meaning we only had 30 minutes of nice weather before lunch. Some birds began coming out and we eventually racked up 50 species.

At lunch we met up with another group and changed locations and eventually made it towards Roosevelt Wetlands. On the way (after getting lost for a bit) Bill spotted a large Monk Parakeet nest up in the power line structures.

Monk Parakeet Nest

Nothing too spectacular but there was a Blue-winged Teal and this massive alligator across the way.


Little Blue Herons are quiet common but I couldn't resist this shot of one feeding in the grasses.

Little Blue Heron

Next, we moved to "The Wall" which is a mosquito control pond just outside of the landfill area. The water was full of ducks, gulls, and shorebirds. Spotted and Least Sandpipers were present but we saw more birds gathered down along the road. We shuttled down and tried to peek over the edge from the fence to count. Once the birds saw us they flushed but I did get a shot of a Greater Yellowlegs keeping watch.

Greater Yellowlegs

Most of the ducks were Lesser Scaup. Canvasbacks were reported father out through scope views.

Lesser Scaup

One batch of birds hiding beyond the fence was a flock of Northern Shovelers.

Northern Shoveler

Heading off to a vacant spot near the interstate, we counted Killdeer (at least 14 in one small spot!) and other typical birds. I was transfixed by a large flock of Common grackles and tried to get some interesting shots as they streaked past just overhead.

Common Grackle

Dark was fast approaching but we wanted to all get a look at the first pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks recorded for any St. Pete CBC. They were right where they have been seen for the past few days. This species is spreading rapidly all over the state.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

When I look back on the day we actually had more birds than I thought. 72 species for me and Bill. I have compiled a list of things written down and remembered when I was without my notebook. Not a bad total considering the bad weather off and on. Reports after I got home are that we set a record of 167 species in the entire area! Previous high was 163.

Species Count

Others have more counts to do this week but I cannot join them. Hope I can be part of future counts as it is always fun being out with good friends at any time. Next up, Christmas itself...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American Goldfinch Confirmed

The earlier poop sighting was enough to let me know they were stopping by but now the Birdcam confirms it: Goldfinches are here!

American Goldfinch

Just pictures of a pretty little girl so far but that's a start.

American Goldfinch

Time to get a sock feeder for the newly arriving guests.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Lots of Little Birds Around

They kick up to the curb for lunch at school so I have to find something to do for 45 minutes everyday. My choice is to head to the nearby Palm Cemetery and look for birds. Cemeteries may be for the dead but they are great for finding all kinds of life. Especially bird life. Less human traffic usually equates to more wildlife.

In fact, you can find a ton of shots on this blog that originated in cemeteries.

Right now, there are large feeding flocks moving through the oaks at this spot consisting largely of warblers and a lot of local birds like woodpeckers, Titmice, etc. Today I brought out the camera instead of just the binoculars to see if I could catch anything. Though the auto focus is not working on the big lens right now I did get a fair shot of a Black and White Warbler.

Black and White Warbler

What really made me break out the camera, though, was the large number of Chipping Sparrows I could see as soon as I pulled up. They were everywhere! I finally managed to get a bead on one bird when another dropped in right next to that one.

Chipping Sparrow

Not bad. While I was taking this shot a groundskeeper roared down on a mower and flushed most of the good birds (Pine Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers and more). Wish the Chippies would make their way down the road to our house but I can wait. We have a long Winter ahead.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

We Have Poop!

May not be a big deal to some, but we have signs. Poop under the thistle feeder means that Goldfinches are visiting the feeders for the first time this year.

I haven't seen them directly but the leftovers mean they have been here. Hoping for a bigger season than last year!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sawgrass Lake Preserve

So, Happy Thanksgiving! I was going to be stuck with an old Turkey photo but fortunately we ran out to find Sawgrass Lake Preserve and managed a different type of bird.

Going to be doing a Christmas Bird Count at Sawgrass this year so I wanted to find it before I actually had to be there and Dad and I headed out for a quick tour. 400 acres are tucked between I-275 and the surrounding development. One inside the preserve you find a large Maple swamp criss-crossed with some really nice boardwalks. Bet this place is humming during peak migration times.

Today, however, it was fairly quiet as it is around much of the state. Not much moving anywhere I have been of late. We did the rounds of the boardwalk and saw a sign for an observation deck. I can't resist observations decks so we added a few more minutes to our trip.

Once atop the tower, I glanced around and something caught my eye out in the distance. Kestrel? Seemed a bit bigger. Sharp-shinned Hawk? Seemed smaller. Binoculars up...Merlin!


Years ago I found my first Merlin (maybe only, now that I think about it) on Honeymoon Island. It was foggy and the picture was nothing to write home about but I knew I had one. Nice to have one a bit more clear even though my auto focus suddenly stopped working.


Plus, this bird was pretty far out there so I am glad to at least have some OK identification shots.


When we first got to the tower, a couple was just leaving and they asked if we had seen the alligators back at one of the overlooks. Nope. We did have to pass them all again on the way out so we rechecked and off to the side of one overlook, indeed, a baby alligator!


Up on the bank was another.


And below that one, hiding behind some foliage, another!


But where was Momma? Ah, hiding behind them all but keeping a very close watch.


On the opposite side of the overlook was another young gator. This one was larger and probably born last year.


Another month from now and I should have a lengthy post from this spot again, birds willing. Excellent park.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

For just over a month I have been swinging through Greenwood Cemetery to see if the Bald Eagles would return and hopefully begin a new nest since their last one fell to the ground after the dead tree it had been in for year finally gave into the elements.

Many in the area have been coming by to visit the eagle pair raise brood after brood over the years and it was a sad sight to see that nest scattered on the ground back in the Spring.

The best I could find was the pair back in the area but sitting in a tree right next to the dead one, seemingly unable to figure out what to do now that their old home was destroyed. Every now and then they would be back there just staring. Would they rebuild? I couldn't find any sign of it yet.

Then one day I decided to go around the very back road in the cemetery and glanced out to a great view. A nest!


I know there was an Osprey trying to build a nest earlier in the year and wasn't sure if this was one of theirs or a new Bald Eagle project. If it did belong to the Ospreys maybe the eagles would time-share, since their breeding schedules do not conflict. In this shot you can see the old tree in the background. I was just looking in the wrong direction all this time!


Still, no sign of the eagles at this nest every time I drove through. Until today! One of the eagles was standing on the edge of the nest this afternoon. I didn't have the camera with me so I will have to go back and make sure they are really moving in.

Fingers crossed...

Monday, November 01, 2010

That Was Fast...

Wow. Did I really not do anything during the month of October? Nope! I was actually just busy wearing my other hat as bird bander at our banding site at Lake Lotus. We had the busiest month on record there during our 2 1/2 years!

I am also now in school full time so much of my days during the week are taken up by that and getting the kids to do their homework. There hasn't been much in the yard this month. I might also note that we have had ZERO rainfall for the entire month. Ugh. At least the temperatures have moderated and it finally feels like Fall here.

So! If you would like to check out what has been going on with the birds at that site for the month either click the link above to go through all of the month's entries in a long list (except for yesterday's which will go up in a couple of days) or select a certain week's post by clicking on any links below.

This past weekend I actually got to bird during a camping trip and will have some other things posted soon once I process the photos. Enjoy!

September 26th.

Buntings are Back!
We began seeing and catching Painted Buntings again. I think they enjoy the new grasses we let grow.

Painted Bunting

Female Painted Bunting

October 2nd.

I'd Say Migration is On!
Right on time, peak migration hits Central Florida! We scheduled a special Saturday to take advantage of the inbound birds.

Birds in Bags

Our first catches of the day at dawn

October 3rd.

A Little Slower
No Buntings today but a lot of birds still lagging behind the main group.

Common Yellowthroat

Male Common Yellowthroat

October 10th.

A Bunting Kind of Day
Loads of Indigo Buntings and Andrew gets attacked by Yellow Jackets.

Indigo Bunting

Male Indigo Bunting

October 17th.

Indigo Buntings Rule
We have never seen so many Indigo Bunting in one day. However, all we banded were females.

Indigo Bunting

Female Indigo Bunting

October 24th.

Orange Audubon Visits
Winds have shifted and the birds are harder to find. Just in time for visitors.


Visitors await the next bird to be banded

See. I was busy. Can't wait to see what shows up next month.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Couple New Birds at the Cam

Momma Cardinal finally stopped by for a picture. Isn't she pretty?

Northern Cardinal

Her big boy came by a bit later.

Northern Cardinal

Carolina Wrens typically eat insects. Sometimes those little things can be found near the feeders and the wrens take advantage of an easy catch.

Carolina Wren

I noticed the feeder was running empty and headed out to fill it. However, I had to wait as a small flock of Red-winged Blackbird swarmed over the last remnants before heading back to the wetlands a few blocks over.

Red-winged Blackbird

Nice to see the adults bringing their new brood over from time to time.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal parents take a break from the kids to have dinner alone.

Northern Cardinal

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bald Eagles are Back

Swung through the cemetery to see if the eagles had returned yet. They have!

Bald Eagle

All they did was sit on that branch. They seemed to be staring at the dead tree where their nest was last year before crashing to the ground. Didn't seem to be too busy building a new nest. No signs in any other nearby trees.

I hope they do decide to rebuild in a new pine soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great-horned Owl Over Jupiter

Last night I was out trying to capture some shots of Jupiter after I noticed something I never had before. I could see the moons of Jupiter through my binoculars! I ran back in the house to get the camera and tried some shots. This is my favorite.


The bright light is Jupiter. In a line from left to right as some of its moons: Europa, Io, Ganymede, and Callisto. The small spec above and to the left of Jupiter is the planet Uranus!

Tonight I went out for some more tries. Notice how the moons are in different orbits tonight.


While I was taking shots I noticed a dark shape glide out of the gloom and into a tree not to far from me. I had a feeling what it was by the flight and shape so I moved closer and got a shot including the planets. A Great-horned Owl!

Great-horned Owl

I zoomed in for a closer look. This shot is lit only by the moon off to the right of the scene.

Great-horned Owl

Timing is everything. The owl heard (or saw) something behind me and soon took flight to investigate.

What an awesome couple of nighttime viewings. Planets, moons, and a huge raptor patrolling its territory.