Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Larger Feeding Flock of American Robins

I was doing my rounds and after I got the oldest home from school I was having a feeling. Just seemed American Robins were so copious lately I needed to stop by the cemetery and see if they were finally visiting the Camphor trees.

Yep. They were all over the cemetery.

American Robin

As I described it to my wife, they were shaking the trees. Jumping in, pulling at fruit, and literally shaking the branches to dislodge more berries. A large amount of them were males.

American Robin

Unlike my last visit with a smaller flock, they were now coming down to the ground to grab the easier pickings.

American Robin

Once I settled down on a tombstone the birds flew in next to me to continue eating. I don't use flash, even though this American Robin looks lit up.

American Robin

I was trying to get a shot of the entire flock but it was difficult. Hundreds of birds were flying around me the entire time I was there.

American Robin

In this situation I always try to get a close shot of an American Robin on a branch right in front of me. It took a while, but one finally obliged.

American Robin

More and more dropped from above to pose around me.

American Robin

I always enjoy watching them picking out just the perfect berry. They will pick one up, pinch it, and either drop it in search of another or gulp it down.

American Robin

I was waiting for a shot of one of the birds to land on a headstone just to give a sense of place. Seemed to take forever when one jumped up in front of me.

American Robin

Then another on a toppled stone to my left.

American Robin

A gorgeous male American Robin stopped on another branch for a great pose.

American Robin

Suddenly, a new bird emerged from the flock and fed in front of me. You don't often see American Robin like this. This bird is showing a lot of leucistic feathers.

American Robin

A final shot of an American Robin enjoying the spoils of the Camphor trees.


I cannot end without giving thanks to the dead who allowed me to use their headstones as a resting place as I photographed the scene. If I read this right, her name is Civility? Wife of W. F. Barber.


Next to that was W. F. Barber himself. I respect cemeteries and you would be surprised how many birds you can find in the more quiet places around town. I love this headstone resembling a stack of logs with a banner draped down it. There are many creative headstones here at Greenwood.


Now we wait for the next waves of Robins and we should soon have opportunities to have views of Waxwings before they leave the state. If we can get through the cold and rain.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Barred Owls Are Back

They're baaaaaack. At least it is the back of the female Barred Owl up in the backyard.

We have been hearing the calls from the owl for a little while but I was never able to get a shot since it was mainly just before dawn. I went out to check the nest tree the other day but did not see her. Today, I was working at the computer and heard her around noon. I grabbed the camera and rushed out back and she was high in the oak branches over our yard.

Barred Owl

Once she heard the click of the camera shutter, the Barred Owl turned from her preening to give me a glare.

Barred Owl

Getting closer to baby time!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini-Feeding Flock of American Robins

Everyone had the day off for the holiday so I slept in a bit and relaxed. I did do my later lake check and made the way over to the cemetery and found a growing number of American Robins flying about. Still no looks of the Bald Eagles or the Coyote today.

American Robin

The problem today was that I picked the wrong time for good light. I could never get any good positions to equal my best shots from last year at this time. Still, it is always fun to watch the American Robins scarfing down Camphor berries.

American Robin

Camphors are considered invasive and many folks would rather have them all removed but there are many birds that use this food source during the Winter in Florida. Robins love them.

American Robin

I tried to get some other angles with the light but it was not to be found. What I did find was a Blue-headed Vireo flitting around the other nearby trees but it was mostly in the shade.

Blue-headed Vireo

I had to complete the evening grocery trip and checked out Lake Davis on the way. Not many birds to stop for but how can I resist the Sundog shimmering in the evening sky?


This is the first feeding flock of Robins I have seen up close so far this year but they have been streaming through in large flocks all over town. Shouldn't be long before I can find a larger feeding flock and then, hopefully, I can get some Cedar Waxwings next month.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lust Road

I had to head over to Apopka to check on banding a Cooper's Hawk before it was going to be released after rehab. I didn't take any photos there but then I decided to stop over at Lust Road to see if I could find a rare bird being reported over there. A Western Tanager. A few birders were already there and reported seeing the bird a few minutes before. Just missed it.

Since I have now struck out on 3 Life birds of late, I wandered up and down the road looking for anything else to photograph. We could hear sparrows all around but most birds were staying low. Finally, a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow popped up onto the fence.

White-crowned Sparrow

One of the other birders screamed out that there was an Ash-throated Flycatcher 100 yards from me. By the time I got there it had flown of. Now 4 Life Bird misses. All I got was a Northern Mockingbird on that walk back.

Northern Mockingbird

Back down by the gate I could see a Bald Eagle resting on one of the telephone poles.

Bald Eagle

The one good surprise was a pretty early male Prairie Warbler that flew in for a few seconds and then departed. A nice splash of yellow against a cold morning blue sky.

Prairie Warbler

We hoped the Tanager would return but it was not to be. Other birds flew by and eventually Red-tailed Hawks took to the sky. The first in view was a darker morph adult.

Red-tailed Hawk

It was soon joined by another individual.

Red-tailed Hawk

This one is a very light morph variety. They decided to ride the increasing thermals instead of gracing us with closer views.

Red-tailed Hawk

Time to head home. Over at Lake Weldona, a Great Blue Heron was wading in to search for prey.

Great Blue Heron

Then a surprise at Lake Cherokee. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a large bird. By the time I rounded the corner I could see that it was a Brown Pelican but it decided to fly off before I could get a good shot. We don't get a lot of Brown Pelicans in the neighborhood but they occasionally can be found in Orlando lakes in the Winter.

Brown Pelican

Last stop before the house is almost always the cemetery. Bald Eagles were nowhere in sight but I did find the Coyote again.


Turned out to be an interesting Saturday spin but I really would have liked to get those other Lifers on my Lust Road stop. Maybe next time.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Walking Lake Davis in the Chill

We are entering the chilly season here in Florida. Glad I am not up North where temperatures are below freezing all over the place! We got to sleep in a bit and then I decided to take a walk around Lake Davis. When I got to the shore I first spotted one of the many Anhingas out today soaking up the morning sunshine.


I heard some knocking overhead and finally found the cause. A female Downy Woodpecker was exploring the upper reaches of one of the palm trees.

Downy Woodpecker

Quickly grabbing my attention was a few Forster's Terns fishing around the lake. Now I just had to get in the right lighting position. With the stiff winds, the birds were moving quickly and were hard to focus on. I finally zoned in on one particular bird and waited to shoot. Here, the bird wheels after spotting a fish and begins to dive.

Forster's Tern


Forster's Tern

The Forster's Tern soon emerged from the water. If you look closely, you can make out the fish in the bird's bill.

Forster's Tern

While I was waiting for the tern photo-op, a dozen Yellow-rumped (Myrtle sub-species) Warblers were moving in to feed along the water's edge. I even managed to get a shot of one in the tree.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

A lone Eastern Palm Warbler joined in on the feasting before heading into the oaks along the road.

Palm Warbler

I stayed as still as possible as a Yellow-rumped Warbler began its hunt. I could tell it was moving toward me so I froze in place and clicked away as it inched closer and closer.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers move pretty quickly as they feed and getting shots of them is sometimes a chore. I was happy that this bird did not see me as a threat and it got so close that now the problem was being able to focus on a subject just feet away with the zoom lens. Any closer and the camera would not even be able to lock on for any more images.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

Nearby, a couple of turtles basked in the morning light.


I moved around the lake and soon saw a flock of White Ibis resting in the water.

White Ibis

Over by the reeds, Blue-winged Teal began to come out from their shelters as the wind dropped a bit.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal are usually sleeping or digging their heads into the lake shore which makes for pretty boring shots. Today I got some nice profiles in the sunlight.

Blue-winged Teal

I didn't think about it when I was shooting, but this male Blue-winged Teal seems to have an added white stripe across the top of his head.

Blue-winged Teal

A large flock of ducks ended up in the windless corner of the lake and I noticed a different bird in the mix. Soon, I realized this was a Gadwall. I found two more quickly and figure they were the same three I had at Lake Weldona a bit ago.


Now at the other end of the lake, a couple of Muscovy Ducks moved toward me. Probably looking for a handout but then they noticed I was more interested in photography instead of duck feeding and headed back away from me.

Muscovy Duck

I was actually trying to ease down the lake bank to get in position for one of my favorite birds. A Green Heron was seeking shelter from the wind behind a bunch of reeds and tolerated me as I crouched for some really close shots.

Green Heron

Green Herons are usually skittish around people. I knew one wrong, quick move and this bird would bolt for another location. I stayed quiet and low and we exchanged glances for a while.

Green Heron

A few minutes later, the bird began to scan the water and grabbed a tiny fish from the lake and gulped it down.

Green Heron

I wasn't expecting too much from a windy morning and was pleased I got some nice shots as I took a short stroll. Where to next?