Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pileated Woodpecker

We had a slower than expected day at the banding site so I headed over to Mead Garden to see if the same held true there. Pretty much. The usual Mead gang was there and reported that there was not a lot of activity at all.

Fortunately, I got easily distracted by a Pileated Woodpecker that flew in close to me. It was searching for food from tree to tree and let me get fairly close.

Pileated Woodpecker

Why move around to check the hole when you can just twist your neck all the way around?

Pileated Woodpecker

Over at another limb our bird finds a tasty grub. Yum!

Pileated Woodpecker

I love watching these big woodpeckers fly from spot to spot. There have been breeding pairs here for many years. This is the male as indicated by the red patch behind the lower mandible.

Pileated Woodpecker

I almost didn't get any good shots. Several Blue Jays were harassing the woodpecker every time they thought there was an easy snack to grab away.

Pileated Woodpecker

Now off to the rest of the Garden to see if there are any more fun finds. Bet I can find a couple despite the quiet.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hangin' Around the Tiki Room

I was looking for something in the archive a few days ago and noticed that last year I had Bald Eagles returning in September. For some reason I thought it was October! So, I need to make some tours of the cemetery. When I got over there I found one bird in the pine just like all the previous Falls.

Bald Eagle

I bring up the Tiki room because looking at these photos reminds me of those clicking, clacking mechanical birds in the The Enchanted Tiki Room down the road at Disney. Seeing that large, waxy-looking bill and unblinking eyes while the bird seems to pant in the afternoon heat just makes this bird look unreal.

Bald Eagle

But, the Tiki Room songs never started and the bird eventually turned all the way around on the branch. Guess it is real, afterall. Now we wait for the second part of the pair to arrive and then we go on baby watch. Yay!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blue-winged Teal and Clouds

A couple of interesting sightings this evening. First off, it is nice to see more and more Blue-winged Teal coming into the area. They are now even on another pond a few blocks away. But at the main pond I happened to get a shot of one of the ducks displaying their namesake wings.

Blue-winged Teal

The sun was setting but there were storms all around the Orlando region. I had to pick up the kids from practice and as we pulled up to the house I looked skyward. Mammatus!

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus Clouds are formed when cold air over a cloud deck drops through and forms 'breast clouds' on the underside of that cloud deck. They are more common up North so it is always nice to see them in Central Florida.

Always someting interesting if you just look around!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things from Mead I Forgot

As I was reviewing my latest post from Mead Garden I started thinking, "Hey, didn't I have a bunch of other birds on that card from that visit?" and when I got a chance I dove back into the folder. Oh, yeah. A few more birds that deserved mention. Just as well, that post was getting long enough.

So, here are those other (almost) forgotten birds from a few days ago.

In the oaks next to the azaleas by the pond, a group of us enjoyed watching and listening to a Yellow-throated Vireo. Though it was way up there, you could still feel the cute raining down on you.

Yellow-throated Vireo

Don't know how I forgot to post the Common Yellowthroats. They were the reason I headed down along the creek in the first place. You could hear them back in the woods and when I neared the creek bank they were swarming as thick as the insects they were devouring.

Common Yellowthroat

Problem with hungry warblers is that they move even faster than they normally do. Getting clear shots was a fun chore.

Common Yellowthroat

Both sexes and all ages were represented in the feeding flock. We have been banding a lot of them the past two weeks out at Lake Lotus.

Common Yellowthroat

Dropping in from above were several Yellow Warblers. A couple began to feed at eye level along the Southern Elderberry bushes. I got a few OK shots (and I will probably never best the ones from last week) but I like this shot of one nibbling away on the flower stalks. Different, at least.

Yellow Warbler

Finally, in between American Redstart sightings I had another nice surprise. A shadow moved along the creek and stopped pretty close to me. It was a female Black-throated Blue Warbler! I followed her as she fed among the branches for a several minutes. I pick this shot for show-and-tell.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

I apologize to all of you beautiful birds I somehow overlooked in my post the other day! Won't happen again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Work Walk

Needed a walk during lunch. Headed back around to the wooded area across the street. It was pretty productive during the Spring. Now to see if I can find anything during the Fall.

I could hear Cardinals but not much else. Suddenly a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fluttered by and after a bug. It caught it right in front of me so I tried to get a shot. It flew off too quickly. I walked around a tree to see if it was hiding on the other side. Instead, I found Blackburnian Warbler feeding way up above me.

Blackburnian Warbler

Heading deeper into the woods I spotted a Northern Parula feeding in a Chinese Tallow tree. It stayed in the dark shade so I looked around for some other subject. Surprisingly, I didn't have to wait long. Thrushes began to fly in right past me and gathered in another nearby tree. Most were Veery but a couple of Swainson's Thrush joined in. We have started to catch these species at the banding site so they are migrating through in good numbers.


That was it for the rest of the walk. Kind of disappointing but those 3 species were new for my in these woods. I finished out my shift and swung by the pond up the road to see if the American Coot was still here. Yep. Stayed year round. Also in the pond was a critter I hadn't seen in months.

American Alligator

At least it still hasn't eaten any of the regular birds!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Wood Duck Opportunity

Guess I am timing these runs around the lakes better these days. I actually ended up with another Wood Duck shot I like.

Wood Duck

Gonna have to buy more picture frames...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Day at Mead Garden

Took a morning stroll over at Mead Botanical Gardens again today. Yeah, I end up here a lot in the Fall. For good reason. It is a magnet for migrating birds in the urban edges of Winter Park.

Things were interesting as soon as I stepped out of the van today. Over near the restrooms, Tufted Titmice were calling so I headed over to see if any other species might be feeding with them. There was a flash of some almost orange bird and I tried to get around the trees to get a better view. I could not refind that bird but up against the glare was a female Summer Tanager.

Summer Tanager

Turns out this was also the first weekend of the Mead bird walks so I met up with all my old friends. We headed toward the pond and watched thrushes and other birds. Soon, that orange bird flew in over head. A young Baltimore Oriole! I have always missed this species on my years of visits. Glad to have that off my shoulders.

Baltimore Oriole

The group kind of split up and I ended up wandering over to the back of the park and I went into the wooded edge of the creek. Yellow Warblers, Parulas, and Common Yellowthroats were feeding on the insects. Up in a tall Cypress tree I found a couple of Magnolia Warblers.

Magnolia Warbler

At the first turn of the creek I scared off a Great Egret. The Snowy Egret, however, did not perceive me as a threat at all.

Snowy Egret

Heading back toward the garden club building I paused to make an attempt at getting a shot of one of the many Red-eyed Vireos feeding all over the park. Not too bad.

Red-eyed Vireo

Under the shade behind the amphitheater I searched for the flycatcher we saw last time out. Alas, all I could manage was a female American Redstart. At least, this time she dropped down to about eye level.

American Redstart

Back out in the sunlight I found more thrushes feeding up in the Virginia Creeper vines. Another bird flew in, too, and I almost dismissed it. Then I realized it was a juvenile. Mourning Doves have scaly looking feathers when they are young.

Mourning Dove

I made my way along the creek to head around the boardwalk on the way out. It was very quiet as I made my way under the Cypress stand but I was glad to get a view of a male American Redstart actively feeding. Like the female earlier, he came down low enough for a pretty good angle even if it was in the deep shade.

American Redstart

He bounced back and forth in from of me for a couple of minutes before taking off to the treetops.

American Redstart

The tour around the boardwalk was uneventful. All I could find moving was a dragonfly. It did stop for a couple seconds for a photo, though.


I walked through the butterfly garden and toward the education building. A strange sound came from the marsh and I quickly searched the vegetation. A bird flew under some leaves and I soon realized it was a Blue Grosbeak! haven't seen one of them in a long time.

Blue Grosbeak

The last bird of my day was a Red-shouldered Hawk surveying the property from tall trees over the old clay pit area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

A fun walk with some nice species. I couldn't get a photo of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird but that can wait until next time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mute Swan

A little filler. I forgot to post this on the 1st. While driving to the store before sun down I spotted one of the Mute Swans heading toward me on Lake Davis. I could not get it in proper light so I settled for a more backlit view. Like it most for the drops of water.

Mute Swan

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yellow, Anyone?

Finally! Some birds out in the open!!

As I rounded the curve at Lake Lancaster around 5 PM I could tell it was going to be fun. Every few seconds little bursts of yellow emerged from the oak branches, hovered in the air for a moment and returned to cover. A nice flock of warblers was feeding big time. Might be my best chance to get a descent shot of a Yellow Warbler.

I could see them pretty much perching in the open as I exited the van.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warblers were definitely at the top of my list for trying to get a good photo but I was also distracted by the equally large numbers of Prairie Warblers. How can I pass them up?

Prairie Warbler

The birds zipped in and out of the oaks and sometime moved down to different sets of trees. I had to walk back and forth along the street but the birds were more interested in grabbing bugs than worrying about me. Which was good because I started getting the best shots of these warblers for me...ever.

Yellow Warbler

So much yellow. At times I had to force myself to chase a singular bird so I wouldn't loose a potentially good shot.

Prairie Warbler

Besides the oaks, the birds were taking turns jumping over to the magnolias across the street. They swooped over my head and went to work on the leaves once there.

Yellow Warbler

Soon, I noticed one other species lurking in the lakeside of the trees which had its own patch of yellow. A Yellow-throated Warbler.

Yellow-throated Warbler

The only other thing I wish I could add here would be the sharp calls and the snapping sound of bills the birds made as they fed all around me.

Prairie Warbler

Even if I never get this opportunity again with Yellow Warblers I can just sit back and stare at this photo and everything will be right with the world...

Yellow Warbler

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Cruising

Just going to a couple spots I haven't stopped by in a while. First, I need to check on the Yellow Warblers I found yesterday near the lake. They are still there but still in the shade. Just can't get them out on the edges and my flash just won't work for now.

Yellow Warbler

Last month I posted about a Muscovy family walking between the lakes. Looks like the predators have been busy. Where there were once nine ducklings then I can only find one remaining. It is getting pretty big, though, so maybe it will make it to adulthood.

Muscovy Duck

I decided to head over to Demetree Park to see if any warbler were enjoying the short boardwalk they have there. Seemed pretty quiet when I arrived but I did chat with an Anole for a quick minute before heading on.


Next to the main lake stood a Wood Stork who was not too sure about my intentions.

Wood Stork

There were a few warblers along the boardwalk like Common Yellowthroats and I did find my first Black-throated Blue Warbler of the season. Red-eyed Vireos called along the treetops. However, I was a tad more interested in another bird down in the creek. A wind-blown Green Heron.

Green Heron

Hard as I tried, I could not get a side angle on this bird that did not include those pesky branches. It was so intent on hunting that even when I walked back and forth, crouched down low, or leaned out over the rail it did not even pay me one second of thought. I can live with the branches in the way. Love that stare.

Green Heron

Off to La Costa Wetlands to see if any ducks had found a resting spot there. There was not much around, actually. Even the locals were scarce here. A few Chimney Swifts chirped overhead and a Cooper's Hawk was chattering in the Cypress trees. But ducks? Not yet.

Rain was moving in so I picked up my step and moved back toward the van. Just before the last bridge, a family of Northern Mockingbirds chased one another around the palms and holly trees. I managed to get a juvenile peeking around its lunch. Birds love these berries and I hope to find a lot of species in this park this Fall and Winter.

Northern Mockingbird

A small mix today. Fronts are still deciding where to go. Not complaining as they have been responsible for guiding tropical storms away from us this year. Counting down to Fall.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birthday Birds

My special day so I took leave of work in hopes of finding some new birds. Maybe that Sandpiper will still be around. Nope. Oh, well. Still have time to do some bird watching after getting the kids to school.

Fortunately, I found a nice feeding flock of Yellow Warblers on the way home. Got a decent shot of one up in the shade of the branches.

Yellow Warbler

I was just mentioning to a friend a few days ago that I hardly ever see Yellow Warblers for any period of time during migration. They seem to swing through quickly and then disappear. Today must be a lucky day as they are feeding all along a local lake.

Yellow Warbler

I was happy enough to have those shots to add to the collection and headed home to start processing other shots and settle in for a little relaxing. I almost put the camera away on the way back but I had to get it quickly as I rounded the curve at Lake Emerald and saw that the light was perfect and a couple of nice subjects came into view along the stand of Cypress.

Wood Duck

Not sure if I like that vertical view of these Wood Ducks or the horizontal crop. Either way, it is nice to have them in a tree (thus, their name) instead of just on the water.

Wood Duck

Backing up just a bit, I was able to get a full shot of the female. Sweet.

Wood Duck

Not a bad start to my birthday. A lot of things to do before the day is over. Maybe I can grab a few more views before dark.