Saturday, July 13, 2013

2013 Jay Watch, Part 1.

I think this is year seven. Finally, I think I have the whole gift collection now that I have gotten the Jay Watch water bottle! We volunteer time for free and sometimes receive trinkets and maybe a shirt at the results meetings. This is probably the last remaining item I have missed over the years. Now it is all just for the love of it. Not that it wasn't before.

For those new to this, every year volunteers head out all over the state of Florida to try to find as many Florida Scrub Jays as possible. The count happens in the full heat of Summer because if there are any new fledglings they would be out of the nest by then and easier to count. It is grueling at times but rewarding being out doing Citizen Science and being outdoors soaking in Nature.

We began our route and saw a couple of Jays but they could not be relocated once the counting began. One thing I enjoy while trying to find the Jays is when there are none, I can discover new plants and flowers. For example, I have no idea what this flower is. New to me.

Purple Flower

Nearby, another purple flower caught my attention. This one I did recognize. Pink Spiderwort, or Florida Scrub Roseling, (Callisia ornata) The fly? I couldn't tell you that species.

Purple Flower

Just above the Spiderwort I noticed a gall growth on the oaks. It was everywhere. I have seen them before but they are usually brown. Not this colorful. They are the result of tiny wasps.


Our next stop was a more productive site for Jays. I could hear them as I stepped out of the truck and all I had to do was play the Scrub Jay call for a couple seconds before they headed toward me.

Florida Scrub Jay

I took some shots after I got the band information and tried to get info on the other 2 birds that were flying back and forth. However, they were not as cooperative.

Florida Scrub Jay

The next stop was a wide open vista and held little chance of Jays but we still have to go through the motions. It did afford me more time to grab some more flower data. Loblolly Bay trees are in full bloom and I could get close to one by the side of the road.

Loblolly Bay

Tarflower are also putting on a nice show and often rise above the surrounding vegetation.


This area was mainly scrub palmetto but scattered among them were a bunch of White-topped Asters.

White-topped Aster

Our group was running ahead of schedule so we had to wait at the next stop before officially counting. This actually gave us an advantage since we could see Jays in the distance but could not get data from where we had to count. With the extra time afforded us, I decided to walk over and see what I could see in better light.

The area was recently burned and I had to climb through charred palmetto to get closer but the sentry was a very photogenic bird. The routine was repeated over and over: "Look to my right..."

Florida Scrub Jay

"...and look to my left."

Florida Scrub Jay

Another Scrub Jay hopped into view to my left and began calling. The females make an unmistakable sound.

Florida Scrub Jay

My fellow counters, Dan and Tiffany Tommasini followed me and managed to capture more than Jays in their photo. I got caught in my Jay Watch gear! You can tell I was not too close to the Jays.

Drew Jay Watching

The female continued to call as I snapped a few more shots.

Florida Scrub Jay

Suddenly, she turned and jumped back into the brush. I noticed that the sentry had, as well. None of us were moving. Nothing making noise. Wonder what...?

Florida Scrub Jay

Ah! Behind us, and very high in the sky was a circling Cooper's Hawk! We could barely make it out until it got closer but the Jays saw it easily.

Cooper's Hawk

It was time to head back to the count site but I couldn't resist checking out the blooms down in the watery pool along the trail.

Drew Taking a Photo

Not totally sure what the yellow flowers are but I am looking.


Sabatias are a lot easier to ID and they easily pop out in the middle of the field of green and yellow.


The last bit of yellow was a stand of St. Johns Wort.

St_Johns Wort

The hawk soared off and soon the Jays began to resume their posts.

Florida Scrub Jay

We ended the day with several juveniles before we left. Great news! Last year I didn't see any.

Florida Scrub Jay

A nice end to the day. Tomorrow, I come back to count along a different route. Stay tuned.


Robert Stalnaker said...

Terrific photos on the flowers and the Jays. Who would not want to go out to a nature preserve and see this beauty?

Ian said...


J. Andrew Boyle said...

Thanks, guys.