Monday, August 27, 2012

Mr. Grebe Gets Some Company

Well, well...looks like all that yellin' finally paid off!

Checking in on the Pied-billed Grebe again and I was pleasantly surprised to find him in some good company. A female has arrived.

Pied-billed Grebe

More interesting is that they appear to be setting up house. The male is sitting on a nest-like spot and I saw him actually swim out and bring in more vegetation to improve the situation. It is very late in the season but these two are at least keeping up appearances.

Time will tell...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Downy Woodpecker

One of the things slowing down my regular posts here is that we have begun the next session of banding at Lake Lotus. This time of year we mainly catch the local birds but the migrants are on the way. Today we caught a couple of Downy Woodpeckers.

They were both females and I had been hearing them in the willows all morning. As we were extracting the females, the male was right nearby. He was busy feeding and seemed to barely notice the calls from his girls. Gave me some great photo ops, though.

Downy Woodpecker

We banded the birds and brought them back down to the same area for release so they could reconnect with the big boy.

I mention it every now and then and it is time to do so again. I have a lot of photos of our banding days over at the Wekiva Basin Banding Station site so feel free to head over there for more nature and birding excitement!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Early Blue-winged Teal

I still check the church pond every day but hadn't found anything different in the past couple of weeks. Until today.

I counted up the Mallards and herons and made sure I had the Grebe on the list. As I was about to leave the scene, I noticed a couple other birds in the reeds.

Blue-winged Teal

Sometimes I take shots and move on quickly when I have other chores to do and don't think too hard about the shots until I get a chance to see them on the computer. Once I got a full view, I could tell these were not your typical Mallards. The full black bills proved that but I was still scratching my head. The plumage was different, too.

I emailed my buddy, Paul, and he suggested what I was starting to suspect. Blue-winged Teal! This species does start arriving on the coast about this time but I have never seen any in Central Florida interiors this early before. I start seeing "Winter Ducks" in late October and into November.

Then again, I have only been finding these tiny ponds earlier this year. They are here then but who knew they were here this early in the season? Now we can add them to the list.

Maybe they have always showed up here this early and we never noticed or maybe we might have a vey ducky year this time around. Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Squawking Hawk

Another day of pond scanning. Searching. Counting. Mallards: 1...2..."Scree!!!"

I was jolted to attention of the call of a Red-shouldered Hawk calling right near me but hidden behind the branches of the trees. I had to climb around benches and near the fence line to finally find the bird. About 2 minutes later I got a lock.

Red-shouldered Hawk

No way to get a full shot but it kept calling until another joined in and finally flew nearby. Still a different experience for the evening.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mead Garden Red-bellied Woodpecker

Made a fast tour through Mead Garden yesterday on the way home from banding. It was a very quiet day with very few birds captured.

Not much happening at Mead, either, until I finally found a feeding flock at the back of the park. There were many species there but I was fixated on a young Red-bellied Woodpecker feasting on the Elderberry fruits.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The bird didn't even mind my approach as I took a ton of shots. He was just loving the heck outta those berries!

A nice sight to send me on my way home.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Checking on the Grebe

Made a quick stop to see if the male Pied-billed Grebe was still hanging out and calling. He was.

Pied-billed Grebe

Wonder if he will find a mate?

On the way back to the van I spied a Northern Mockingbird hopping across the lawn in search of food.

Northern Mockingbird

A scruffy little thing but he was finding bugs quite nicely.

Northern Mockingbird

Off to the next adventure!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Baby Red-winged Blackbird

Such a noise outside! I looked out back and found a male Red-winged Blackbird plucking seeds from the feeders and bouncing around the Frog bird bath. It was fun to watch for a bit. THEN...!

I noticed a bird slipping into view from behind the side of the deck. Next, Dad slid over and fed the young bird as it decided it was safe enough to make its way closer to the back of the deck.

I was stuck inside and ran back to get my camera for a shot through the back window.

Red-winged Blackbird

Dad was feeding baby, our first arrival from the wetlands this year, and was very focused. I decided that I might be able to get a clear shot. I opened the door and for the first time ever Oscar, our cat, tried to get past me. I had to grab him, scaring the Blackbirds in the process.

Of all the times... At least I got a verified shot of fledged Red-winged babies. Time to watch for more chances and lock up the cat!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Muscovy Parade

We completed our first dat back at the banding site today and I headed around the local lakes on the way home. Nothing much out there at the moment so I was pleasantly surprised to round a curve and spy a colorful parade headed my way.

Muscovy Duck

Mama Muscovy Duck was leading her newest brood from Lake Emerald toward Lake Weldona. They ran out of side walk along the way and had to jump the curb and make their way down the street.

Muscovy Duck

I stopped far enough away so as not to interrupt their stride but Mama still had to give me a checking out just in case.

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy ducklings are some of the cutest out there. Then, they get a bit more homely as they grow up. Some folks feel that way, anyway.

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy, Wood Duck, and Mallards have all had 2nd broods this year. Ducklings can be found in every lake and pond around. No complaints!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Checking the Banding Site

I decided to take a walk through the banding site today to make sure it was in good enough shape for the grand re-opening tomorrow. Yep. Looks good. Not a lot of birds around right now but still a couple to catch my attention.

I was hoping the flock of Titmice and Chickadees would come out for a picture but they stayed in the trees across the river. I had to settle with the company of a Great-crested Flycatcher. I wanted a more direct angle but I guess this one is not too bad.

Great-crested Flycatcher

A Pileated Woodpecker flew in to join the party, searching along the branches before flying off into the park.

Pileated Woodpecker

Of course, there are always plenty of butterflies around. I have a lot of photos of White Peacocks but how can you resist their excellent color scheme for just one more?

White Peacock

In the morning, dark in the morning, we begin our 5th Session of banding at Lake Lotus. I will put links to those findings when they are warranted. Hoping for a great year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Backyard Quickies

Ah, August. How I have neglected you. For my usual followers and others, I have been remiss on getting the August posts going. So, for those of you that get reminders, you may be getting more than one a day as I play catch-up.

Been getting things ready at the banding site and just have been too distracted. Still recording birds but not being able to post them quickly is a pain. I should be up to speed shortly before migration gets too crazy.

SO! Just a couple birds from the beginning of the month.

I sat out back for just a brief time this day. All the baby Cardinals were about and I really like this shot of one trying to hide between the branches.

Northern Cardinal

The squirrels broke the last small feeder out back so I found a new one. This one is interesting. A double stacker. Should be a hit with the smaller birds in the Fall. For now, the Red-winged Blackbirds like it and are stopping by more and more. Got a shot of Mom and Dad at the same time today.

Red-winged Blackbird

A lot more sightings to catch up on! Stay tuned!! We start banding up the road and I will make a link to the banding site along the way.