Friday, November 29, 2013

Returning to Mead Botanical Garden

I got a chance to return to Mead Botanical Garden after a long absence due to job searching. I really wanted to try for a shot of the Red-headed Woodpeckers now that the skies had cleared and the winds died down a little.

I began my usual path through the park passing the newly planted Camillias but found nothing. Not much was in sight or calling until I neared the cement bridge where a call caught my attention. It was a male Black-and-White Warbler. It was feeding in the branches overhead so close that I could barely get it in the camera's zoom range but I repositioned myself and waited for a better shot and was finally rewarded.

Black-and-White Warbler

Marcus and Larry arrived soon afterwards and we wandered a bit. Larry and I decided to go out on the old section of boardwalk to see if we could locate the Red-headed Woodpecker out in the wetlands which had not been seen for a while. We first found 6 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Six!) chasing one another and chasing off warblers. Eventually, I spotted the woodpecker on one of the snags.

Red-headed Woodpecker

It hung out on this tree for a while near the top and finally moved lower and entered what appeared to be a nest hole. Perhaps it was always hiding there causing it not to be seen. Now we know where to look.

Now to get the other bird on the other side of the park for a closer shot when I can.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Grebe

Happy Thanksgiving! I only had a brief time to look around the neighborhood before dinner and only saw some Palm Warblers, a Tricolored Heron, and one diving lake bird. A Pied-billed Grebe.

Pied-billed Grebe

It was no Turkey but it does kind of look like one to me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Walking the Lakes

The kids were off for the holiday so I took the chance to wander Lake Davis since I didn't have to drive back and forth to schools. I also wanted to see if anything of interest was out there during this gloomy morning. Nothing new but there are now over 100 Ring-necked Ducks around during the day. I can count many more resting on the lake after dark.

Ring-necked Duck

I headed West and found a few Anhinga either in the trees or near the ground. For some reason I can never resist silhouette shots of these diving birds.


A little farther along I spotted a White Ibis. This bird has an injured wing an has been hanging around the lake for several years. One woman even wanted to capture it and take it to rehab but that failed but this bird seems to being doing fine, otherwise.

White Ibis

I rounded the western edge of Lake Davis, avoiding the construction crews, and ended up in a patch filled with warblers. The most numerous were Palm Warblers. This one seemed to be fascinated with finding bugs around the barricades.

Palm Warbler

There were also a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and I was looking forward to getting my first good shot of one this season but could only get backlit versions. At least it is a start and they will be around for many more months.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Along the lake's edge there were several Eastern Phoebes. They are calling all around the area this year. and we have banded many at our bird banding site this Fall.

Eastern Phoebe

Near the Eastern Phoebe was another Palm Warbler on its own which took time preening on a Cypress Tree before beginning to feed again.

Palm Warbler

Who can refuse a shot of the Mute Swans while walking around? I see folks stopping to get out and take photos of them all the time. Mom and baby drifted out in front of me to rest a bit before going back to foraging.

Mute Swan

Later in the day, I headed out to do some shopping which always leads me to go around Lake Terrace to see if any ducks have returned. For some reason they are not hanging out much this year. What did surprise me as I neared the lake was a big flock of Vultures. Most of the ones on the ground were Turkey Vultures feeding on something that may have been bread.

Turkey Vulture

Soon, Black Vultures began circling in, too and I got a few shots of them in flight before they began to compete with the Turkey Vultures.

Black Vulture

Not a bad days work of photography but I would sure love some new ducks arriving before too long.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grizzled Mantis

I was headed out of the house and as I turned to close the front door I spotted an insect on the wall of the house. I knew it was a mantis, but what type?

Grizzled Mantis

I posted the image to Facebook and had an answer in a few hours. A Grizzled Mantis. Never saw one of those before! Probably due to that excellent camouflage. If it had stayed on the tree or plants I would have never even known it was there. Cool new bug!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hooded Mergansers Back in Maitland

Once November arrives I make a point to drive by my old workplace after our bird banding sessions searching for Hooded Mergansers that Winter in the small retention ponds in the area. Today they made it. There were several in the pond as I drove into the parking lot but most were underwater by the time I got in a position for some shots.

One male was on the surface and it did something unusual. Typically, when the Mergansers spot someone they either dive or quickly swim undercover of the parking structure nearby. This bird just looked at me and began taking sips of water.

Hooded Merganser

I was not complaining. It let me get some great views directly from the van. I always think of male Hooded Mergansers as having true black and white markings but this shot shows that the duck's black is not true black. Notice how it stands out against the deep shadows.

Hooded Merganser

This bird began swimming slowly along the waterway and made a couple of bill clicking gestures.

Hooded Merganser

Soon, it didn't have to try swimming at all. Gusts of wind sped through the parking area and began to move the Hooded Merganser along.

Hooded Merganser

When a strong gust came up it totally ruined that lovely crest. For a moment.

Hooded Merganser

Glad to have the Hoodies back in the area. I look forward to our Sunday meetings until Spring!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lake Birds

Too many days spent job searching leaves me little time to do much birding lately. I finally decided to take an hour or so and walk Lake Davis after a quick drive around a couple other spots to see what I could see. First thing I noticed was a Pied-billed Grebe cruising around Lake Weldona. Pied-billed Grebes are coming back in large numbers now and I love seeing them diving in the local lakes.

Pied-billed Grebe

Over behind the grocery store I found a nice collection of Ring-necked Ducks. No other ducks there. Yet.

Ring-necked Duck

I got over to Lake Davis and walked around to find an interesting duck resting by the edge of the water. Looks like some kind of hybrid but I am not sure what this mix is. Just looks different to me for now. Inquiries are out to see what it might be.


There were many Blue-winged Teals out in the water and on the shore. I was concerned that the new construction would chase off some ducks but they are filtering in despite the extra sediment pushed into the lake.

Blue-winged Teal

The lighting wasn't the best but I can't resist trying to get a shot of the male teals when they are this close. Plus, I love those mottled feathers on these birds.

Blue-winged Teal

American Coots are also arriving in larger numbers and they are sometimes overlooked but alway fun to watch.

American Coot

Western Palm Warblers are also around in growing numbers and I love watching their twitching tails and fast feeding behaviors.

Western Palm Warbler

Even wind-blown warblers are fun to watch. Makes it hard to get a shot when the branches are dipping up and down, though.

Western Palm Warbler

I wasn't looking for a new swan shot but baby drifted by in between the cypress trees as I watched for other birds.

Mute Swan

I need to make time to get back out when I can. All work and no play...

Friday, November 01, 2013

Young Mute Swan Update

Day after day I drive around Lake Davis and look out at the Mute Swans and mean to get a shot of the growing signet. I finally got out and walked the entire lake in search of a Ruddy Duck found a few days ago. No luck with that. Winds are up for the week and most ducks are confined to the lake edges, mostly Blue-winged Teal. Nice to see but not the Ruddy Duck I was after.

I did get a few minutes to get some shots of the swan who is growing so big and finally molting into its white feathers.

Mute Swan

One of the other local swans was seen being chased by the parents on the way to drop off the kids but they are still enjoying the lake and all of the feeding opportunities it provides, both from people and the natural lake weeds.

Now we wait for any fun ducks to arrive for the Winter.