Monday, June 25, 2012

Jay Watch 2012

That time again! Jay Watch!! The weekend where we head out into the heat of June and count as many Florida Scrub Jay s as we can throughout the State. Typically the temperatures are in the mid- to upper-90s but this year we have Tropical Storm Debby blanketing us from the Sun. Problem is, now we have to worry about being washed out completely.

This year I was assigned to Lake Monroe. I arrived a bit early to see how the weather was rolling in and to get some early photos.

Lake Monroe Sign

The parking lot where we gather usually have some wildflowers blooming this time of year. Like the Tickseeds.

Tick Seed

The powers that be be decided to continue the counts for Saturday and we got really lucky. Showers were contained to the West of the state but we had threatening clouds all morning. The crowd continued to arrive while I continued to snap away at things like the Sabatias near the fence.


Sensitive Briar was blooming all over but I kind of liked it in the background to break up the yellow. TIme to start our Jay search.

Tick Seed

I ended up in the first section of the property Saturday which is undergoing a lot of habitat restoration. What used to be Wax Myrtles and pines was being burned and transformed into scrub. That means few, if any, Scrub Jays yet. I did find a Bob White Quail singing away.

Bobwhite Quail

Many checkpoints later and still no Jays. Tarflower sure are pretty this time of year, though.


FInally, at Stop 52 (not the 52nd stop for us) we spotted two Jays up on a tree. They soon flew down to an area where a 3rd Jay was already taking up watch. With the bad light and angles I only got some OK shots of this banded individual.

Florida Scrub Jay

All adults today and three were the only one we had in count areas. We did find a couple as we were driving from place to place but those would be for others to count. We would have to settle for our worn and wet few.

Florida Scrub Jay

At our final stop I could hear a familiar sound off in the distance. It grew closer and I realized this bird was going to fly pretty close. They are usually foraging along roads or fields in pairs or families so it is fun to have a Sandhill Crane fly overhead.


Sunday posed an even bigger weather threat. It was raining in Orlando when I woke up. I called Duff, the Lake Monroe coordinator, and he was going to try and get through the count. It was fairly dry when we got to the site but we did have light rain all morning.

After a couple of stops all I could manage was a new flower for the weekend. A small clump of Bachelor's Buttons made a pretty contract in the fields.

Bachelor's Button

Nearby, Thistle make an appearance. Still no Jays.


The final flower of the day was a variety of Spiderwort hiding under some heavier cover. We also spotted Deer, Eastern Bluebirds and Bachman's Sparrow but all while driving so no shots.


One stop to go. Stop 36. As we pull up, a Jay popped up out of the vegetation. Yay! I take this spot while the others fan out to close by stops of their own. I tried to get good shots of the bird but the light was still bad. Plus, I needed to get band colors before trying for any keeper shots. As I was maneuvering around for a better view, a second bird appeared. This one was unbanded so all I had to worry about was a photo. Mission accomplished.

Florida Scrub Jay

All count points were finished up by 11 AM. Good thing. By noon, Debby would send heavy rains all through Central Florida before heading North and out into the Atlantic.

Overall, a pretty quiet Jay Watch for me this year. Hopefully, other counters got many more birds than we did. Data will be gathered and reported by the end of the year. Then we prepare for next year.

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