Saturday, May 23, 2015

One Red-shouldered Hawk Makes it 1,000

Wow. I just noticed that this is post Number 1,000 for Drew's Birds! A couple of nice photos for this landmark, too. It has actually been a pretty slow year, birding-wise, and who knows when the next opportunity might come along. So...

I was heading home from the store not expecting much along the way. There was little around the lakes and this stretch I take through a neighborhood is basically void of bird life even when we walk it for high school fund-raising. To my surprise, a Red-shouldered Hawk was perched on a lamp post at the end of a driveway smack in the center of the block.

I figured I had no chance of a photo since I was close and hawks tend to take off if you slow and back up to get at a good angle. But this bird was so intent on scanning for a meal it couldn't have cared less if I was there mere feet away.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The Red-shouldered Hawk swiveled its head left to right and back again several times hoping to catch anything in the open. Even small lizards are fair game for these birds but nothing seemed to be coming out into the open.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I got a few more shots in as the fading sunlight glided a few feathers and then I headed on my way. By the time I reached the end of the block it was still on patrol.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Those little surprises alway make a quiet drive so much more special. Now into June and the really quiet birding months.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Moss Park

It took me awhile to get through the photos from last weekend so this is posted a few days after the event, but...done. My wife's company picnic was scheduled for this past Saturday and the event was held in Moss Park. Nice place. We have camped there before. Only problem is that it is like dropping a kid in a candy store. Birds are always around here so socializing becomes more of a formality for me once I start seeing and hearing birds. Selfish? Yes. I am working on it.

As soon as we got out of the car I could see scores of birds flying around the lake. I was already twitching. Once we made introductions and had lunch I went off for a little hike. As soon as I neared the edge of the lake the bird sound was raucous. The main species flying by were Wood Storks.

Wood Stork

Turns out that the small island just across from the shoreline was teaming with wading birds nesting. A lot of Wood Storks were there but the edges of the island were covered with White Ibis nests.


There were also Anhinga and Double-crested Cormorants but I was more pleased to see a Black-crowned Night Heron join in with the crowd. I do recall seeing a lot of these birds the last time we were out here.

Black-crowned Night Heron

I came off the dock and began to head to the North, following the sounds of Boat-tailed Grackles. They would not stay in good light for me but flowers were more accommodating. Right next to the dock was a nice spread of Rhexia.


Just around the bend were a scattering of Yellow-eyed Grass swaying in the light breeze.

Yellow-eyed Grass

Tucked next to the reeds I spotted a clump of Bog Buttons. I did not relocate the Sun Dews I remember from years ago.

Bog Buttons

Standing higher were shocks of a variety of St. John's Wort.

St. John's Wort

Another yellow flower was there but I can't recall the name as of yet.

Yellow flower

Back to the birds! My next goal was to find where the birds from the island were heading for food. They were going to a shallower part of the lake to the North. The storks and Ibis were flying over to gather food for chicks...

Wood Stork

...and then head back in short order.

Wood Stork

The White Ibis are in full breeding plumage and are just as active.

White Ibis

One of the birds we always remembered from our previous camping trip was the Sandhill Cranes that can be quite bold in searches for food. They even try to steal food from your picnic tables! This family was wandering around a large gathering leading their new colt through the pavilions.

Sandhill Crane

The colt took it all in stride as kids tried to follow it around the campgrounds.

Sandhill Crane

I headed back to the company event hearing Pine Warblers near the gathering. I kept seeing them flying high in the pines and finally had a closer look as an adult brought some food down to a juvenile.

Pine Warbler

Once the meal was consumed, the adult Pine Warbler flew off for more and the juvenile fluttered its wings and called for more.

Pine Warbler

Near he table, a family of Tufted Titmouse swooped in and began calling loudly. Was I in the way of something or were they warning of some other danger? I never found out.

Tufted Titmouse

As I was about to put the camera away I noticed another bird flitting through the branches. I couldn't tell exactly what it was immediately but by the time I went through photos and asked for thoughts from a friend I can only conclude that this is a late 1st Spring Blackburnian Warbler! Not a common sight here this time of year.

Blackburnian Warbler

I made one more walk near the parking lot to see what was in a fenced in area and had a pair of Great-Crested Flycatchers hunting around the moss. It is called Moss Park, after all.

Great-Crested Flycatcher

A nice morning of discovery today. Next time, have the company event indoors and I will be all full of meaningful conversation. Until I spot something outside the windows...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Greenwood Eagle Update

I finally got a couple of Bald Eagle shots. I was beginning to think I might not get any good shots as it always seems that I have been there at the wrong time. No birds at the nest, lousy weather, little sunlight, etc. Being a Saturday where I didn't have anything else pending for once, I finally can relax.

There is only one juvenile this season. It fledged a while ago but is now coming back to the nest for food and then to hang out on the branches.

Bald Eagle

Mom wasn't too happy that I was walking around. Probably since there have been a lot of folks trying for close-ups lately. I took the hint and headed to check the lakes for other birds.

Bald Eagle

I am glad I got those shots and glad our juvenile eagle is looking nice and healthy after a shaky beginning. It is also the end of our bird banding season so I can take a break for a couple of months.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Baby Eagle and Starlings

I read that the baby Bald Eagle fledged the other day but I didn't locate it anywhere then. Today it was back up in the nest chowing down on something (probably fish) while the parents sat nearby.

Bald Eagle

I was actually more interested in another baby in the area. A few birds flew in next to the car and I could tell they were European Starlings. I knew they nested around this area because I see them going in and out of nest holes but I can't recall ever seeing a fledgling before.

European Starling

Kind of like how you never see baby Rock Doves (pigeons), European Starling chicks seem to stay out of sight. This young one was busy following its Dad as he foraged all around the cemetery grasses.

European Starling

The whole neighborhood is teeming with baby birds this season!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Baby Tutfted Titmouse

In yesterday's post I mentioned the juvenile Tutfted Titmouses have been here in the yard. As I headed out to the store again the Cardinals were off in the back behind the house so the Titmice had plenty of time to grab seed out front. There were several young Titmice but this was the one that decided to eat next to me.

Tutfted Titmouse

Young Tutfted Titmice always amuse me. They are like their parents but with a more smushed in face.

Tutfted Titmouse

They are also pretty inquisitive.

Tutfted Titmouse

Just like the Cardinals, the Titmice have 3 young ones this year. Add in the 4 Carolina Wrens and we have a pretty bustling area. I'll keep filling the feeder, kids!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Baby Birds are Here

I was heading out to the store and heard the familiar calls of fledgling Northern Cardinals. Glancing out the front window I could see 2 young birds but the adult male was also heading to the ground feeding another one. Three babies out there this year! I tried to get a shot through the screen but the sun being where it was made for a difficult exposure.

Northern Cardinal

I had to slip out the front door and try for a better angle but the babies retreated deeper into the foliage while Dad continued to gather seeds to feed the kids.

Northern Cardinal

Waiting above me for a turn at the sunflower seed was an adult Tutfted Titmouse. I have been hearing juveniles of that species out here, too.

Tutfted Titmouse

No time to try for more shots. Next time.