Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Ruby

We had the pleasure to spend some time for Memorial Day with some family out the Oviedo way. Problem was, it was going to rain almost all day long. What's a birdwatcher to do? Stare out at the rain and hope something shows up, of course.

Mainly, it was a Cardinal and Titmouse kind of day. Along the way, some Mourning Doves and woodpeckers would join in. Then. my brother-in-law mentioned that there was a hummingbird feeder on the other side of the back porch. Really? Time to shift gears. It didn't take long for a Ruby-throated Hummingbird to make an appearance through the rain drops.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I first saw her coming to the feeder cautiously. I soon managed to prop the screen door open for some clear shots. Love the rain drops on her bill.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I was told there were a couple of females that came to the feeder so I was pleasantly surprised by the sighting of a male. He would zip through faster than the female but once headed to a tree to do a little deeper bathing on the leaves.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Most of my shots of the male were with its head buried in the feeder ports. Finally, I got a pretty good flight shot. Sweet. Even a bit of ruby showing in the dim light.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Once the rain began to lighten up, a few more birds came out to play. A family of Carolina Wrens skipped along the fence line. The adult on the left has an awful lot of white spots, more than I have seen before. On the right is a more drab juvenile.

Carolina Wren

There were several Common Ground Doves coming and going during the day. I typically find them in locations more to the East heading toward the coast. A nice find here in the suburbs. As one fed near a feeder I decided to slip out back and hoped for a closer look. To my surprise, this bird did not seem to mind me if I walked slowly. Eventually, I began shooting.

Common Ground Dove

Every Ground Dove I have ever been around before takes flight at the slightest approach. This one didn't seem to care and I got my best shot ever of one of these birds.

Common Ground Dove

Not bad for a soggy Monday. Just wish Lois could have been there with us today. Get well, Lois. We miss your laugh!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spotted Sandpiper

Not much happening around the neighborhood during my daily check but I did get a nice surprise by Lake Weldona. I was watching the near shore when I noticed something streak off to the right. I searched in vain for what it could be but it was definitely small enough to be a shore bird. I thought they had all cleared out by now.

Moments later the speck headed across the lake and toward the far shore. A Spotted Sandpiper glided to a stop.

Spotted Sandpiper

I will have to check my records for this species but I don't recall any this late in the season before. My guess would be that it is the same bird I saw a few weeks ago a couple blocks over at Lake Emerald.

Spotted Sandpiper

Now I will have to keep my eyes more focused on the lake shores which are beginning to disappear as the water levels rise. Finally getting some rain.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Purple Martin Majesty

I finally had a chance to drop by the Purple Martin apartments in some better light. The weren't a lot of other birds around like the Loggerhead Shrikes I found the last time. I could hear the adult Martins chirping overhead and the view from the street looked promising.

Purple Martin

The parents were zipped by quickly so I tried for a few silhouette shots to use later on with...something. We shall see. They adults were still circling and not approaching the apartments. Suddenly, Blue Jays were calling alarms. I headed down to find the raptor they were yelling at. As I got closer, a Cooper's Hawk bolted out of the trees and headed down the street.

Purple Martin

They were still bothered by something. Fish Crows were bullying things nearby but eventually took off. One of the adult Martins was carrying a large insect. I found the transparent wings sections interesting but could not tell what it was yet.

Purple Martin

Once the hawk and crows took off one of the chicks poked its head back out of the front door kind of like, "Hey, what are you waiting for?"

Purple Martin

The female with the big bug began circling closer and closer. Looking like it is an orange insect.

Purple Martin

Moments later a male landed with a dragonfly in tow.

Purple Martin

The male fed the dragonfly to the young and then the female landed. I still had to look up the moth. Turns out to be a Pink-striped Oak Moth.

Purple Martin

The male grabbed a fecal sack from the home and flew off and the female prepared to feed the moth to the kids.

Purple Martin

Open wide!

Purple Martin

Mom shoves that bug all the way down.

Purple Martin

She also grabs more waste from the interior and flies it away before searching for more food.

Purple Martin

Think the chicks are full? I bet not. These two kept poking their heads out in wait for even more.

Purple Martin

Other homes were occupied but I had enough shots for now. A fun little sequence to add to my day. Might get to head back soon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lake Lizzie

I had half a day to fill so I headed over to a new spot for me. Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve is near St. Cloud, Florida. The preserve has a few trails but I only had time to take the shortest route. I was looking for reported Red-headed Woodpeckers but I did not find them. In fact, there was very little activity at all.

Lake Lizzie Sign

So, determined to finish the loop trail, I took time to check out the other offerings like flowers. Seems like the Tar Flowers are in full bloom. This flower gets its name due to the sticky substance that occurs on the back side of the petals.

Tar Flower

Numerous bat houses dot the area, which were part of an Eagle Scout project. One of them hangs on a tree next to a little observation deck that extends into the marsh that approaches Lake Lizzie, itself. This must be more interesting when the water is back. Currently, we are far behind on our rain totals.


Next to the observation deck is a small stretch of boardwalk that makes for a pretty view into the woods.


Back on the dirt trail one has to side step a lot of Robber Flies. They like to buzz around you but they are looking out for other insects to eat.

Robber Fly

Where the land becomes a bit more moist, Sabatias bloom in many spots.


The one surprising find today was made while I was trying to get some flower shots. I was setting up a shot and them heard a kind of cluck and them the unmistakable sound of a large bird taking off behind me. As I spun around, I saw a Turkey hen and several chicks flying away from me and into the woods. One of the chicks didn't make it as far but landed in a tree nearby. You can just make it out. I was trying not to frighten it more so I moved on.


Regaining my pace, I found some more interesting flower displays.


I will return here, probably in the Fall. A lot of interesting habitat to explore and I bet the migrants love it. Beside the Turkey, my most surprising find was on the way home. Along a busy road and down in a small retention pond I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me find a place to turn back. A Sandhill Crane had built a nest in this tiny spot.

Sandhill Crane

Hope it doesn't flood if we get the expected rains next week.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Burrowing Owls

There are a couple of locations I keep tucked inside my brain in case I get some unexpected time off. One of those days just arrived as we completely got all available work finished and no more was due in today. Where will it be to, then? I haven't seen Burrowing Owls in a while. It would be a long drive to a new place but I hear they are easy to locate.

I drove down the dirt road I was directed to and searched the fence line for any owls. It seemed like I might not find them at all but I kept driving and searching. Finally, I spotted an owl on a fence post. I slowed and tried for a shot but it flew off. When I got home and saw that shot I noticed that it had a lizard in tow.

Burrowing Owl

It wasn't my presence that scared off the owl as I suspected but it was bringing lunch to its young!

Burrowing Owl

Once the meal was delivered, the adult flew back to its perch and the owlet took it back into the burrow. I began taking a lot of shots of the adult.

Burrowing Owl

A little while later, the owlet reappeared and gave me some bright-eyed stares.

Burrowing Owl

Then I took turns getting shots of the adults. They were sitting a few fence posts apart. First the one on the left...

Burrowing Owl

...then, to the right...

Burrowing Owl

The Sun came and went from behind the clouds making every shot a little different but after a while they all become very similar. I could sit here for hours taking the same shots. Wait, no I can't. I have kids to pick up from school! I will have to head out after one more stunning stare.

Burrowing Owl

I definitely plan to return here when I have more time. Other birds to find in the area, as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Roseate Spoonbill Surprise

As I was headed home last night I drove through my usual lake loops. It wasn't too difficult to spot the bright spot of pink standing in the middle of Lake Lancaster. A Roseate Spoonbill was settling in for the night! The last time I had seen a Spoonbill downtown was almost exactly 5 years ago and that was at Lake Davis in a pouring rainstorm.

I took a quick ID shot and headed home. The following morning, I dropped off the youngest at school and drove back to see if the bird was still there. It was. Though a bit farther away from the roadside.

Roseate Spoonbill

I walked out onto the exposed lake bottom (man, we need rain) and headed toward the Spoonbill. I stopped once it spotted me. I didn't want to spook it into leaving. I took a shot and retreated and the Spoonbill settled back into its resting posture.

Roseate Spoonbill

I turned to find a Great Egret dropping in behind me. Pretty close for a landing egret. Not like it didn't see me. Photo, it is.

Great Egret

On the way back to the van I noticed that one of the Mallard families was actually swimming toward me quite quickly. They must be getting some hand-outs.


I had nothing but my camera and binoculars so they would have to settle for a little stardom on the web.


I headed to work and about my day and when I got back to Lake Lancaster I could not relocated the Spoonbill. It must have moved on. Indeed, it had. Over to Lake Davis where I found it to be a much more willing subject along the shoreline.

Roseate Spoonbill

The last Spoonbill took off pretty quickly all those years ago. Maybe this one will stay a while longer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Walking Lake Davis

Following my walk around Greenwood Wetlands (yesterday's post) I headed over to Lake Davis. Didn't expect too much but I had heard about a nest with eggs so I thought I would check it out. As soon as I exited the van I heard and saw a very busy Northern Parula.

Northern Parula

Along the shoreline a Tri-colored Heron kept pace with me and stopped in front of me several times. Perhaps it want its photo taken? Oh, alright.

Tri-colored Heron

Speaking of Tri-colored Herons, I spotted a trio of chicks over on the island. I could get no closer and zooming in in Photoshop makes me think that they are heron chicks. Hmmm...

Tri-colored Heron

I look to my left and a small flock of Rock Doves (Or are they back to Pigeons again? Still Rock Doves to me.) struts along the sand.

Rock Dove

I am surprised to still be finding American Coots around. Found two today. They are usually Winter birds for us. One year we had one bird that remained at Lake Davis year round and I don't know why more do not.

American Coot

Up ahead, a male Anhinga dries its wings in the Sun and tells me, "Close enough..."


Most of the way around the lake now and I find the introduced flock of Chinese Geese. They usually hink and approach you but today this one just sat calmly near the sidewalk? Could this be where the eggs are? Seems like an odd place to lay eggs.

Chinese Goose

No. I find one near the water and as I look under a Cypress tree I see many more. Though that doesn't look like a good set-up for a nest. Someone or something must have scattered them. Guess we won't have goslings around this year.

Chinese Goose

Finally, my tour is about complete. The last bird to strike a pose is a single European Starling foraging around the lake. Though a non-native species, I do admire their colorful feathers from time to time.

European Starling

Been quite a while since I walked the whole perimeter of the lake. Bird life is still going strong.