Saturday, September 26, 2015

Back Walking Mead Garden

With migration picking up I had to head back out to Mead Botanical Garden at least for a little while. Once I stepped out of the car I noticed a bird very high in the trees and tried to track it. It suddenly took oft the south but landed on an exposed branch. It wasn't until then that I realized it was a Scarlet Tanager! Not very common this time of year.

Scarlet Tanager

As I reached the bend in the creek I was greeted by a large Great Blue Heron trying to nap.

Great Blue Heron

Over at the pond I searched for warblers but all I could see was a Red-eyed Vireo. At least it was a passible photo for once. They fly so quickly behind leaves while feeding.

Red-eyed Vireo

High above us, another Great Blue Heron peered out across the landscape.

Great Blue Heron

I searched for the Acadian Flycatcher I saw on my last visit but instead there was only a Common Yellowthroat at the cypress trees.

Common Yellowthroat

Nothing else in this side of the park held my interest so I started back toward the car. When I reached the cement bridge a Wood Stork and I surprised one another. I took a photo. It sulked away into the trees.

Wood Stork

Down along the creek, a bale of Turtles rested on a log.


I heard some loud chips up in a palm tree and after a bit of circling found a Yellow-throated Warbler racing from frond to frond in search of a meal.

Yellow-throated Warbler

A small feeding flock rushed to the nearby trees and snapped away at insects. You can hardly miss the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers as they flit about.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Tufted Titmice are usually heard first and then are rather brave about feeding close to people walking by.

Tufted Titmouse

A Downy Woodpecker was not grabbing bugs but caching nuts for the Winter.

Downy Woodpecker

I was exiting the property when I heard a lot of birds mobbing...something. Moving back inside the fence I found one of our Barred Owls just hanging around under the shade.

Barred Owl

Numerous Yellow Warblers were yelling at the owl but hard to get in the best light.

Yellow Warbler

I headed home but swung through the cemetery just for a check. Look who I found. Our Bald Eagles are returning to the nest.

Bald Eagle

A fun walk but not too many interesting things. Started and ended on high notes so I guess I can't complain.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fall Migration at Mead Garden

Now that Fall Migration is kicking in, I decided to take a walk through Mead Botanical Garden, of course. I could not find many birds for the first 15 minutes. Odd. Then I did what I usually do to hopefully break the drought which is get that first photo taken even if it is an easy target like the first bird I did see, a Great Egret.

Great Egret

Even the boardwalk was quiet. Just me and a Cuban Anole.

Cuban Anole

One of the reasons I headed out was that a fellow birder had reported an Acadian Flycatcher near the creek. I wasn't sure if it would still be there but as I got to the giant cypress a bird flew out to catch an insect, nearly hitting me in the chest. It then settled on a branch just to my right. It was the flycatcher.

Acadian Flycatcher

You don't see Acadian Flycatchers, or most other flycatchers for that matter, that seem oblivious to humans walking close by. This bird just didn't seem to care about people being in its space at all.

Acadian Flycatcher

It fed low in the area, zipping back and forth across the path while I snapped photos and other people walked to and fro.

Acadian Flycatcher

The Acadian Flycatcher flew to the opposite side of the creek for a while and I had gathered enough shots to make me happy.

Acadian Flycatcher

Just after the flycatcher moved a little higher to search the branches a Carolina Wren came charging in to take its place. It was singing up a storm and posed just as close as the other bird recently had.

Carolina Wren

I had to move along, though, so I made my way to the spot behind the old amphitheater that typically has some good birds. Today was no exception but the clouds were moving in and rain might be on the way. In the gloom I could make out a small feeding flock and a flash of yellow betrayed a Prairie Warbler snapping up bugs.

Prairie Warbler

Just behind it was a Blackburnian Warbler. First I have seen since last year.

Blackburnian Warbler

Near the cement bridge, a huge flock of Common Grackles were suddenly swarming the area and making quite the ruckus.

Common Grackle

Trying to get a snack below the Grackles, a Red-bellied Woodpecker pounded away on slender branches.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Just before I got to the park exit I heard a call up in the trees. The view was horribly backlit but with a little photo processing I was able to confirm that the songster was a Yellow-throated Vireo.

Yellow-throated Vireo

Not a bad walk on a gloomy morning. Maybe I can find even more on the next visit.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Solar Powered Hawk

Did you know that a lot of our Red-shouldered Hawks in Florida are solar powered?

Red-shouldered Hawk

This bird was hanging out on a nice perch next to a lake on a new installation. Perfect view for a hunt.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day at Lake Apopka

Labor Day was upon us and I heard that the Lake Apopa North Shore Drive would be open as it is for Federal holidays. I asked my wife if she would like to go with me and she surprised me by saying, "Sure." Not easy to give up a morning to sleep in and we would have to be there by sunrise. Best time to bird, ya know.

We arrived right on time. I was expecting a line of vehicles since it was a holiday but I think we only counted 5 other cars during our entire trip. Weird. Also, kind of weird was the last time I came out it was one Osprey after another on the poles. Today they were replaced by Red-shouldered Hawks. Our first was calling like crazy as the Sun rose behind us.

Red-shouldered Hawk

A bit farther ahead we found another Red-shouldered Hawk. That thing resembling an emerging alien is the birds talon as it holds its leg close to itself.

Red-shouldered Hawk

A surprise awaited us on the first curve. A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron posed in the morning light just perfectly.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Last month I hardly saw many Great Blue Herons. Today they were spaced every 500 yards!

Great Blue Heron

Our first American Alligator was lurking near the first heron.

American Alligator

We finally discovered one Osprey enjoying breakfast on the telephone poles but it was the only one of the day.


More American Alligators prowled the basin behind the pump house.

American Alligator

I almost missed the Bald Eagle sitting on the far side of the basin before we headed around the next bend.

Bald Eagle

All of last month's young Common Gallinules are reaching the teenage look.

Common Gallinule

I failed to get a shot of the numerous Green Herons flying by in July but we had one try to hide in plain sight next to the road today.

Green Heron

A young Red-shouldered Hawk was perched atop some bushes but was winding what the noise was below it. It was a Limpkin which disappeared into the shadows before a photo could be had.

Red-shouldered Hawk

There were a lot of Yellow and Prairie Warblers flying around feeding but this is the best I could capture as they were moving super fast in search of insects.

Prairie Warbler

I was anxious to get to the spot where all of the swallows were congregated on my previous visit. As we approached I thought I was spotting a Life Bird up on the wires. I have seen a couple of Bank Swallows (right) but never got a shot. To the left is a fluffy Barn Swallow told by the forked tail feathers.

Bank Swallow and Barn Swallow

The bird I was after I spotted through the windshield and managed to get one shot as the clouds moved in the cloak the scene. My first ever Cliff Swallow located center-right.

Cliff Swallow

A Shiny Blackbird has been here for a while but I forgot to try for a photo last time.

Shiny Blackbird

Among the swallows, I found a single Purple Martin in the group.

Purple Martin

Trying to be a little artsy with a silhouette of Swallows against the clouds.


One of Carolyn's favorite birds, a Glossy Ibis, perches along the roadside.

Glossy Ibis

Yet another Red-shouldered Hawk was at the end of the line sending us on our way home.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Not a bad drive on a quiet holiday. We will definitely be back. Maybe a little sleeping in in between, though.