Monday, April 27, 2015

Out for a Concert

The family headed out to the East a bit to watch our oldest play in the final concert of the season. As we approached the school I noticed a very large congregation of Black Vultures interested in something across the way. We are talkin' over 50 vultures and more were flying in. My camera trigger finger twitched but I didn't have much time to wander off as I am wont to do.

I tried to divert my attention back toward the school and noticed another bird flying behind the high school and then emerged off to the left. A Bald Eagle was soaring by high over head, reflecting light from the setting Sun.

Bald Eagle

Then I noticed another bird on a light pole right next to us in the parking lot. One of the incoming Black Vultures was checking out the feast across the street before joining in. At least I got one vulture shot.

Black Vulture

The auditorium doors were just opening when I spotted yet another bird flying to the top of another light pole. Hmmm... I couldn't figure out the ID right away but it was a small bird whose shape seemed foreign to me. Moments later it dropped to the ground to grab something and I caught a flash of blue.

While the rest of the family headed toward the door, I drifted to my right for a closer look. Then, the male Eastern Bluebird hopped to the chain linked fence with its prize. I don't get to see a lot of Bluebirds but with this being father out in the developing east side there are still some around here. I had to go in for the concert but I spotted a female bird just down the fence line before I went in.

Eastern Bluebird

As the band filed in I could get a glimpse of Patrick, our oldest, sharing a joke with fellow bandmates before they dove into the first tune.


Patrick had won the solo for the first song. So proud. Not so proud that I messed up my camera settings but we got to enjoy a bunch of well played songs. This was a mixed batch of college kids and they played awesomely! He can't wait to get back to playing for the marching band next Fall.


I am very busy with work lately so I have no idea when I am going to get more birding in but times like this show that you can find birds anywhere you go. If you take only a couple of minutes to look around you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bald Eagle Chick in the Open

Yay! Finally saw this year's baby Bald Eagle out in the open today.

Bald Eagle

Now we just wait until it is a bit older and out on the limbs.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Leading a Hike

Orange Audubon has started holding Spring Migration bird walks in addition to their previous Fall walks out at Mead Garden and I was asked to lead one of the groups today. The attendance has been pretty high this year and we need to split up into two group so no one area is too crowded. My group headed to the Southern side of the gardens while Larry headed toward the Butterfly garden just to the North.

Our first bird was a fast moving Palm Warbler. Most other Palms moved North not long ago. This one busy trying to catch some tiny moths. There is one in its bill.

Palm Warbler

We headed to the 'ear-trees', (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), and started to find several Warblers but they were so high in the tree it made photos pretty difficult. However, we did record Northern Parula, Black and white Warbler, and Cape May Warblers here.

Barred Owls are out of the nest but the youngsters were tucked in some foliage while one of the adults sat in the bright morning sunlight.

Barred Owl

We did not find too many birds out this morning but the Gray Catbirds gathered in large numbers down by the new bridge by the creek. They were eating fruit from the palm trees. Not too far away we entered the boardwalk and were quickly met by a small flock of Cedar Waxwings and a often hidden female Cape May Warbler.

Cedar Waxwing

Over in the willows, a Prairie Warbler darted in and out of leaves in search of insects.

Prairie Warbler

Out in the open, a male Black and White Warbler prowled the branches and tree trunks just past the railings.

Black and White Warbler

Before we exited the boardwalk I spied beautiful a Five-lined Skink along the rails.

Five-lined Skink

Folks began to drift apart by the time we got to the Butterfly Garden. Time for a sit down at the benches. I spotted a Great-Crested Flycatchers darting around the back of the lawn so I tried to outflank it for a photo. Success!

Great-Crested Flycatcher

Over at the Clay Pit we checked for any migrants in the mulberries. Nope. We instead watched a Great Blue Heron swoop in and do a short bit of hunting before it nabbed a snake.

Great Blue Heron

Upon closer inspection it appeared to be a Banded Water Snake. Yum!

Great Blue Heron

One the way back to the car I stopped by the Red-shouldered Hawk's nest. I didn't look too closely first thing in the morning but now we could clearly see 2 little fuzzy heads bopping around up there.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Finally, I got to see one of the juvenile Barred Owls before I headed home.

Barred Owl

Some interesting birds for the day and some warblers even I was wanting to see. Now we settle in for the hot months and dream of Fall migration.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Where is That Baby?

Well, since I saw a tiny bobbing head a while ago I have not seen that Bald Eagle chick again when I swing through the cemetery. Today I found the parents just sitting in the branches. Shouldn't they be out gathering food for their little one?

Bald Eagle


Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Happened to Spring?

We had a pretty wet Fall and Winter but were ready for Spring. It was cool for a short while but suddenly it has become warmer than normal. Along with it comes the building cumulous clouds and thunderstorms. I caught this view on the way home.


THe clouds were building in our direction but the big storm was far out East. Might have some lightning to photograph soon enough.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Windsong Peacock

When I come home from work I always take a quick swing through the Winter Park neighborhoods to check retention ponds for bird. However, the draw for most folks are the Peacock flocks that were introduced into the area decades ago. Tonight, one of the big males was perched on a wall near one of the ponds.


A gorgeous bird but I don't know if I could live with their raucous calls all of the time.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter in Winter Park

I wrapped up our Sunday bird banding and got prepared for celebrating Easter with the at the in-laws. I got ready and ushered our youngest into the car and headed toward Winter Park. I left a little early because I had a mind to make a stop along the way.

When we reached out destination I was surprised to see a number of Mourning Doves feeding on grass seeds next to the road.

Mourning Dove

More surprising was another bird that dropped in next. A bright red House Finch!

House Finch

A nice find but I was here to see the birds a little higher off the ground. I have not had time to visit the Purple Martins this year and now was the perfect time. Not sure if it was the best time for them. Seems like some argument was taking place.

Purple Martin

I stepped out of the car to try for some closer shots and, of course, the only rain cloud around opened up. I was glad to see several apartments being occupied. Last year I only recall one pair.

Purple Martin

The Purple Martin let me get even closer for a nice pose. What a handsome bird.

Purple Martin

Then over to the family to spend some Easter time and get ready for lamb. I have to take a walk out toward the lake to see what I can find. The lawn next to the lake was accented with various flowers popping through. I have always had a thing for pink Oxalis.


Over to the right, a single bright yellow Cow-pea poked through the turf.


I recall Frog Fruit (Carpet weed) from my youth and used to watch the bees flit from flower to flower.

Frog Fruit

Water Hyssop is found near water sources throughout the area but is so small it is sometimes overlooked.


Up on the dock having a drying stint, a male Anhinga kept a close watch on me.


On the opposite side of the dock a stalk of Duck Potato waved in the breeze.

Duck Potato

Dragonflies chased one another and occasionally grabbed onto more swaying blades of vegetation in the water.


Once the Anhiga flew off I headed out onto the dock to get a couple of more photos. Spatter Dock sends up closed yellow blossoms above the lake surface.

Spatter Dock

I am also fond of Water Lily blossoms. I have to get a shot of one every time I spy them in the distance.

Water Lily

We always hear of Dollar Weed and how hard folks try to get rid of it from lawns but they have very interesting flowers. It is called Pennywort, too.


You often find Pickerel Weed in roadside ditches of in swampy wetlands but they also turn up on the shores of lakes.

Pickerel Weed

Finally, I left the lake to head back inside. I was wondering where more birds were but there was a group of skiers out on the water so they probably chased most of them away. At least a Pied-billed Grebe popped up for one last shot.

Pied-billed Grebe

A nice Easter day, including that excellent lamb dinner.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Searching Mead Botanical Garden

Took a run over to Mead Botanical Gardens to see if any migrants were around after my lake checks. The only thing of note at Lake Lancaster was the Great Blue Heron rookery that is starting to show some signs of new chicks.

Great Blue Heron

I got out of the car at Mead to the sound of a large flock of Cedar Waxwings. Unfortunately, they dropped into a very tall oak. I hope these are not the best shots I get of Waxwings this year but there is not much time left before they leave.

Cedar Waxwing

I headed into the gardens and when I got to the cement bridge I heard some high pitched calls from nearby. Baby birds, but where? Then it hit me. They were in the nest box just overhead. The box (actually put there years ago by Richard from our banding site) has seen better days. It appears squirrels have been at work over time. Still, it is being used.

It took a few minutes of waiting to see by which species. There was a blur of a bird leaving the box as I got closer but I couldn't tell what kind. Soon the blur returned past me and into the box. Chicks cried out for food and I trained my lens on the box opening. Soon, an adult Tufted Titmouse was staring out to make sure the coast was clear before heading out for more bugs.

Tufted Titmouse

I didn't see the owl family where I expected them. I did hear them later but came away with no photos. Over the back of the original amphitheater a Great Egret preened all alone.

Great Egret

The Lizard's tail is finally reestablished itself after being nearly unseen for many years. Don't remember when it declined. Perhaps it was the hurricanes in 2004. The blooms are now back all over the wet areas like I remember from when I started coming out in the late 1990's.

Lizard's tail

Today the Golden Aster was nearly as profuse along the boardwalk.

Golden Aster

Sitting in the shade and whispering was a near motionless Gray Catbird.

Gray Catbird

On the way out I found one of the reasons there were not a lot of small birds in the open. A Red-shouldered Hawk stood watch on a snag. They have a nest not too far from here for the past couple of years.


Stopping by the cemetery on the way home I finally saw something up in the Bald Eagle nest. See it? To the right of the fishing bobber is a roundish shape behind the sticks. Eagle chick! About time.

Bald Eagle

Still pretty quiet overall. I thought this was Spring migration? Sigh.