Friday, February 25, 2011

Kraft Azalea Park

After an email from an old connection reported more White Pelicans on another nearby lake I finally made it to Kraft Azalea Park. Been past it a time or two but never stopped by. Now that I know it is a couple minutes from school it may have to become my new lunchtime stop! As the name suggests, there are a lot of Azalea bushes in the park weaving around beneath massive Cypress trees on the shore of Lake Maitland.


There were several White Pelicans hanging out with hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants out on the lake but it didn't make for a very interesting picture. Skittish Wood Ducks were closer so I tried to get a shot.

Wood Duck

What I really wasn't expecting was the large numbers of Great Egret and other birds nesting in all of the oaks near the street. Many were displaying while other gathered sticks to add to their small nests.

Great Egret

It is a beautiful sight but there branches are often in the way so getting a clear shot is not easy. Plus, the angle of the light at this time of day makes shooting from the park toward the street difficult since the sun is blaring straight at you.

Great Egret

A great little spot to take a break and do a little bird watching. Bet it is fun during peak migrations. Later, after grabbing the boys from school and heading home, we found the Pelican has returned for a while back at Lake Davis.

White Pelican

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Discovery's Last Launch

So, we've come to the end of a long viewed site. Space Shuttle Discovery successfully launched after a long repair job. This is the final time she flies into orbit. This was the view through a cloudy sky from downtown OTown.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Farewell, Discovery! Landing is scheduled for March 9th. Hope to hear the booms this time.

Two more missions remain before this wonderful site is no more.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

White Pelican Stops By

I was winding my way back home after getting the youngest from school when we made a very unexpected find. A White Pelican was feeding at Lake Davis! It was hanging out with a flock of Double-crested Cormorants and cruising around in the swallow waters.

White Pelican

I have never seen this species on a lake in the neighborhood in all these years. Sometimes they are seen flying overhead a bit farther North or closer to the coast so this was amazing. Great bird to find in a suburban town so far inland.

White Pelican

On the way back to the van we also found many Anhinga including this male in breeding plumage.


Nice views so close to home.

Monday, February 21, 2011

One Last GBBC Count for the Year

The Great Backyard Bird Count ends today so I had to head out early and get in one more report. I took the camera along just in case but didn't really plan of using it for some reason. Turns out I used it quite a bit.

Ring-necked Ducks are thinning out as we head toward Spring but it was nice to find a Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker around the lake. Can't recall seeing the feathers so pretty before.

Northern Flicker

Finished the count at Lake Davis and headed over the Lake Lancaster. Hasn't been a lot of birds there of late but I knew I could add at least a few more species. I always seem to forget about certain birds that are so common like Boat-tailed Grackles. Until they turn and catch the sunlight.

Boat-tailed Grackle

Just feet away was a Tri-colored Heron feeding amongst the Mallards.

Tri-colored Heron

Started hearing loud calls soon afterwards and first thought someone grabbed themselves a Peacock. Then it dawned on me that it was a Limpkin creating all the racket. Then it flew in near me for verification. I couldn't get a good shot through the tree branches so I had to settle for a Little Blue Heron in another part of the tree being extremely quiet.

Little Blue Heron

That count done, it was time to swing through the Greenwood Cemetery to check on the Bald Eagle nest. As I have mentioned before, I was trying to get a shot of one of the chicks. I did see that there are definitely two chicks in there but only one was up in the open.

Bald Eagle

The adults flew back and forth dropping off fish for the chicks and I managed to get a shot of one of the adults taking off back to gather more food.

Bald Eagle

While awaiting the return of the adult Eagles, I noticed some movements of Pileated Woodpeckers around the area. They eventually headed over to the tree where the eagles had the nest before. This now dead tree is currently the home of the woodpeckers and I hope to get some shots of the chick in the future. For now I settle for the female peaking out of the nest hole.

Pileated Woodpecker

Just above the nest hole were a pair of European Starlings trying to figure out if they could find residence in another cavity in the same tree.

European Starling

As I waited for the woodpeckers to return I was greeted by the calls of a Northern Mockingbird just under the dead tree in a shrub. It allowed me close approach to get some shots.

Northern Mockingbird

So close that I could get action shots of it singing away. Awesome views, awesome songs. Spring is here. Finally.

Northern Mockingbird

What will reveal itself next? Still waiting for the Robins and Waxwings.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We Had a Great Time at the Festival

We had to switch out banding on Sunday to spend all day Saturday giving banding demos at the Orlando Wetlands Festival. Not a bad trade. Click the image below to see the whole report on my banding blog for the details.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Woodpeckers and the Hunting Hawk

A good flock of birds was foraging in Palm Cemetery today. Mostly Palm Warblers and Chipping Sparrows but there were also a lot of noisy Red-bellied Woodpeckers trolling through the branches. They would stop at certain spots and flick their tongues into crevices searching for bugs.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Many folks are confused by the name Red-bellied Woodpecker since they rarely see them from underneath. They generally hug the trunks of trees as they search around. Here is a blurry shot showing the seldom seen red belly.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I followed a small shape darting between shrubs and was greeted by a chirping Carolina Wren. It was difficult to get a shot through the foliage but I did get at least an identifiable snap.

Carolina Wren

As I was trying to get a shot of the Chipping sparrows I saw a quick moving shape coming out of the shadows as the birds all bolted. It was a Red-tailed Hawk flying at waist level and it passed within 4 feet of me. Once it landed, I crept up to take a few shots.

Red-tailed Hawk

Then, it did something I had never seen before. It walked up along the branch and hopped up to the crook of the oak where a squirrels nest was in plain view. It then started stomping on the nest!

Red-tailed Hawk

This went on for a few minutes as it tried to see if anyone was home.

Red-tailed Hawk

An amazing behavior to witness. The hawk soon flew to another tree to preen before heading off in search of food.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Where are those Chicks?

Still hunkering down in the nest, the chicks did not show themselves today. Mama was still there standing guard.

Bald Eagle

I was thinking of taking more pictures of her but then I saw a movement to my left. Glancing over I noticed Papa soaring into view. He was zooming toward the nest and I tried to get a few shots. It wasn't until I got home and processed the shots that I noticed he was carrying in a fish!

Bald Eagle

He dropped it in the nest and then headed to another nearby Pine.
Parents are busy at work.

And I can now increase the photo size with the new blog change!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Good News from the Eagle's Nest

Last week I swung through Greenwood Cemetery to check on the Bald Eagle nest and a photographer was already there. I had a feeling that the brood had to have hatched by now so I asked if he saw any chicks yet. He reported just one.

The next day I took the boys through to the spot just to check. There were actually two little heads popping up! I didn't have the camera so I decided to come back at another time. No sign of the chicks but I did get a good shot of Mama.

Bald Eagle

Sure I will be back many more times as they grow and fledge.