Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lakes are Drying Up

Lack of rain and high temperatures for the month of March are causing all the local lakes to shrink. That is happening at an even quicker pace all of a sudden. Over at Lake Emerald, wading birds, like the Wood Storks are easily finding food in the shallow waters. They simply stride through the water and sweep the area with open bills.

Wood Stork

A little mud stirring with their powerful legs helps even more.

Wood Stork

Two blocks away, Mallard broods are hatching. Won't be long until the Wood Duck families join in.


One surprise for the morning was a single female Ring-necked Duck. All the others headed North a couple weeks ago.

Ring-necked Duck

I can't remember what I was trying to photograph when I noticed a Palm Warbler skipping though the Cypress trees along the shore.

Palm Warbler

This bird is nearly into breeding plumage but what really struck me was the short tail. Must be a last molt before the long flight home.

Palm Warbler

Should be getting other warblers and shorebirds soon. Camera at the ready!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Barred Owl Update

Been so busy that I have not made a concentrated effort to check on the Barred Owl nest lately. I wandered around the fence and made a quick scan of the nest hole. Interesting. What is that I see peeking around the corner?

Barred Owl

A little fuzzy head! It never showed its full face but there it was, nonetheless. So, we have one. I walked to different angles to see if I could see deeper into the nest. There! Stage left, was a larger chick hiding in the shadows. Two chicks not far off from leaving the nest.

Barred Owl

We hear the adults every evening and most early mornings but rarely see them. However, I did hear the lingering migrants like the Indigo Buntings and the Catbird so I returned across the fence to see if I could get a shot. They were not very cooperative. The Buntings took off. The Catbird stayed in poor positions until it ventured out before following the Buntings. Gotcha!

Gray Catbird

Suddenly, the local Blue Jays raised the alarm and headed toward the owl tree. Seemed they were focusing right in front of the nest. Time to head back and see if either a chick had emerged or if an adult returned. Ah, an adult who couldn't care less about the noisy Jays.

Barred Owl

A few seconds later, the owl settled in and began to preen. It first dug its head down into the fluffy middle of its chest.

Barred Owl

Then, it began to select individual feather and cleaned them all the way out to the tips. This continued for several minutes (and a hundred photos, but I won't bore you with those as this is my favorite) and was only interrupted when something made a noise behind me and the owl snapped to attention.

Barred Owl

Staring past me and realizing nothing was worth looking at, the bird returned to preening and then began to rest so I left the yard to give it some alone time.

Barred Owl

Chicks could be leaving the nest at anytime now. Ears and eyes will be open when home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Surprise Chickadee

We took a little trip to the Panhandle for Spring Break. Never made it to the beach but we saw some cool things along the way. I tried to do a bit of birding but nothing hardcore. I don't think I even tried for too many shots of birds at all.

We discovered that there was a small park near Tallahassee so we swung in there not long before dark to see it we could find something new. We were in search of a White-breasted Nuthatch which are said to breed in the park. They may, but we discovered that the park is around 10 acres of trails and we only had 40 minutes of light.

And still had to get to Gainesville, hours away.

So, I decided to just do a quick search of the nearest trail. Mosquitoes were getting bad so no one else would want to hang around. Luckily, right on the edge of woods was a familiar sound. A Carolina Chickadee was calling like crazy. Soon, it was almost directly overhead.

Carolina Chickadee

My son and I did not find much else on a short walk and the lake on the map was apparently very low due to the lack of recent rainfall. However, there was a bright male Eastern Bluebird on the top wires on the way back!

Eastern Bluebird

I need to make a plan to get back to this area again someday to visit a couple of other areas and hope to be back here to find those Nuthatches.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Cedar Waxwing Chow-down

I was just saying to my youngest yesterday that it seemed odd that the Waxwings have not taken advantage of the Loquats just around the corner. I headed to the store this evening and, sure enough, Waxwing crazy. I would have to delay groceries for a least a little while.

The trees were alive with the birds. They were in the Loquats, in the oaks, in the Crape Myrtles. When I first parked the Sun was in my face so I headed to better light. Waxwings soared in over my head and into the trees to grab fruit almost non-stop.

Cedar Waxwing

It was hard to decide on which branch to focus on as they darted back and forth. I only shot 200 photos tonight, but these are my favorites.

Cedar Waxwing

The Waxwings could hardly decide which way to perch as the fruit is thick all over the trees. Sometimes they had to lean back a bit.

Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwings should just about strip these trees today or tomorrow and then they will off to find others, including the local palms which are heavy with berries. This photo also shows the orange tips of the tail feathers that sometimes occurs instead of the typical bright yellow.

Cedar Waxwing

So many Waxwings this year. Most I have ever seen. Maybe I will get to witness another frenzy before they head North in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Good Look at Young Bald Eagle

The young Bald Eagles are finally venturing outside the nest. At least to the edges. Here is my favorite shot from today.

Bald Eagle

Sure it won't be the last!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More on the Indigos

Finally opened the window screen to try and get some Indigo Bunting shots. They are as jumpy as always so the best I could do was grab a shot as it began to leave the feeder. Still, not too bad.

Indigo Bunting

Later, I heard the other in the back and tried for a shot but it would never come out into the open as it preened away behind the Chinese Hat plants. However, you can tell how much more blue this bird is even in this concealed view.

Indigo Bunting

They should remain a little longer. Hope to get a clear shot before they leave.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kingfisher and King of the Night

Took a little cruise around the work complex to see if I could relocate the Turkey flock. Now luck there but I did find a late season Kingfisher patrolling a small waterway. Nice to see this time of year. They will all move North very soon.

Belted Kingfisher

Later that night I went out to try some shots of the convergence of Jupiter and Venus. As I was getting things in focus when I a hear a splash on the edge of the lake I was positioned by. Odd. I looked around and finally spotted the source. A Barred Owl was down in the water, seemingly looking around for something. I am guessing it was one of our owls nesting the the back of our house as owls have about a one mile territory, well within the zone I was in.

It took turns in the water and up in the oaks so my planet shots would have to wait. Who can pass up this chance?

Barred Owl

Every couple of minutes the owl would go back into the water and bathe. Then it would head back up into the oaks. Thankfully, my dodgy flash woke up to grant me a few pictures.

Barred Owl

My shots of the planets were not too spectacular but who am I to complain?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Only One Indigo? Nope.

I was already pleased that my Indigo Bunting was back again for another year but today made things even more interesting.

I heard the Bunting chipping outside so I grabbed the camera and tried to find the bird through the kitchen window. I could hear it to the right but did not see it yet. Suddenly, a Bunting landed on the feeder and started grabbing seed. As before, I had to shoot through the screened in window so the shots are not ideal but are good for ID purposes.

Indigo Bunting

I continued to shoot shots of this bird for documentation and it was very quickly going back and forth to nab seeds.

Indigo Bunting

Still, I was definitely hearing a bird chip that could not be this bird. I began to peer closer around the vegetation and was finally rewarded by finding a second Bunting nearby behind the palm fronds.

Indigo Bunting

So! Now we have two Indigos this year. Sweet!

Indigo Bunting

Actually, the bird chipping was the one in the palms. The other was too busy feeding as the other kept watch.

Indigo Bunting

I want to spend more time with the screen open but our current cat might jump out or the Carolina Wrens might fly in (they have done so through the mail slot before!) so I was not comfortable keeping it open too long. So I am left with screened views for now.

Indigo Bunting

Knowing that there are two makes me hope for so outdoor shots in the future. Two Indigos! Yay!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Spin Around the Neighborhood

A beautiful March day. Time to scan the neighborhood lakes to see what is around. First stop, Lake Lancaster where I find a Limpkin wandering around the rapidly drying lake in search of food.


On the South side, a few Fish Crows rested on the wires next to the lake.

Fish Crow

I took a breath and turned to head back to the van and noticed a clump of white in the grass. Closer inspection revealed a Wood Stork resting by the water.

Wood Stork

Suddenly soaring into view, a Turkey Vulture passed over head riding the nice breeze.

Turkey Vulture

A few turns later brought me to Lake Weldona. This little hidden lake hosts some interesting birds from time to time but none so surprising to me today as one of the adult Bald Eagles resting and bathing in the water. Guess it wanted a break from the group of photographers that have been stationed under their nest for the past few weeks. I hardly even drive by anymore. Too depressing. Excellent to spend some quiet time, just the two of us.

Bald Eagle

Until he turned into a zombie! I escaped without harm quickly!!

Bald Eagle

Now, I was thinking about the eagle nest at the cemetery so I drove through looking for my other favorite sight. Luckily, the Coyote was there in the shadows again.


On the way out of the grounds, the Northern Mockingbirds are nesting and being very visible at eye level.

Northern Mockingbird

Finally, a quick drive around Lake Terrace. Would the Green-winged Teals still be there this late. Yep. First sighting found it with a Ring-necked Duck.

Green-winged Teal

A bit later it appears to be with the female. Such a gorgeous duck.

Green-winged Teal

Chores are calling but not a bad set of shots for 30 minutes of cruising.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Love is in the Air.

And on the water.

I took a bunch of shots today but thought I would make this series a separate entry. More birds in tomorrow's post. This first find was pretty amazing. I swung around the lakes for my daily count and when I got to Lake Emerald, one of the best places to find Wood Ducks, I witnessed a scene I had never happened upon before.

Several Wood Ducks were swimming around the lake. They often head away from the road when cars come by too slowly but today they seemed more interested in one another. The closest bird was a male drinking in the lake all alone.

Wood Duck

I was busy trying to get the right angle when something began to appear from my right. A female was slowly swimming over with her head resting on the water's surface. Odd.

Wood Duck

Once she reached the male, she came to a halt right in front of him.

Wood Duck

There, she waited for a bit as the male looked her over.

Wood Duck

Next thing I know, he hops on her back and they begin to copulate.

Wood Duck

Not all crazy like Mallards can get. They simply mated, nice and calm.

Wood Duck

A few seconds later he pushed her down just a bit and they separated. They stayed near one another and bathed a bit before heading toward shore to rest.

Wood Duck

Not far away, another male watches from his stretch of the shore waiting his turn with one of the other females.

Wood Duck

Love in the afternoon.