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.