Saturday, March 26, 2016

Clear Lake Park

I had to make a trip to the county electronics drop-off and once that was complete I remembered that there was a park I had spotted on Google Maps a few times and decided to swing in for a look. Clear Lake Park is behind a neighborhood and school and has a nice sidewalk and exercise stations for joggers.


I was unsuccessful at getting photos of the warblers moving from tree to tree so I headed back to the car were I was greeted by a Blue-headed Vireo right overhead.

Blue-headed Vireo

Encouraged by this I headed down toward the edge of the lake. Next time I will wear something better than flip flops. All kinds of twigs and such once you are off the sidewalk. The lake is lined with oaks and Cyress trees. Just offshore, a large flock of American Coots and a Pied-billed Grebe floated by in the bright sunshine.

American Coot

There is a short dock that juts out over the water and once I wandered toward it another Pied-billed Grebe drifted into view.

Pied-billed Grebe

Anoles scurried all around the entrance on the dock but I was more interested in the Skink that paused before me.


Across the lake you can see the recently renovated Citrus Bowl.


I made my way around the sidewalk when I heard the sharp calls of Blue Jays raising an alarm. I changed direction and walked through the grasses and branches to try and locate what was bothering them. I didn't anything for a while but then a Red-shouldered Hawk came bursting out of the canopy and flew toward my car. I followed and managed one decent photo before he let out a series of calls and disappeared into the shadows again.

Red-shouldered Hawk

This looks like a good spot to find birds during Fall migration. I will be sure to visit here again then.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Bronzed Cowbird at Newton Park

Twitch alert! There was Bronzed Cowbird reported over by Lake Apopka at a place called Newton Park. Never heard of the spot but needed that species for my Life List. I headed over and wandered around Nice little park right on the waterfront but a storm was on its way from the far side of the lake.

I saw some blackbirds around the information sign and headed that way. They were feeding on the ground and suddenly one of them started making a call I had never heard before. Found them! However, as I got the camera up for a shot something flushed them all toward the mobile homes to the North. Dang. After a few minutes of waiting a single female returned and landed in a tree above my head.

Bronzed Cowbird

Tried of waiting for them to return, I decided to take a walk around. I circled around toward the direction the birds flew and looked back at the pier and made a mental note as to how far off the rain was.


A Palm Warbler was still hanging around. Molting into Spring colors nicely.

Palm Warbler

A baby American Alligator swam by. I was surprised I did not see any larger ones as this lake is full of big gators.

American Alligator

The Cowbirds were still out of view so I went back to the pier and decided to walk out to the end.


Tree Swallows were flying by in larger numbers but they were banking so quickly that it was hard to even get one in frame.

Tree Swallow

A lone Bonaparte's Gull rested on a barrel not far from shore. I noticed another bird beginning to wander the park and could tell he was going to head out to me. He introduced himself as Leo and we went back to shore to search for the Cowbirds again.

Bonaparte's Gull

As we approached the mobile home area a few grackles and Red-winged blackbirds flew in to a lawn. I also noticed a couple of smaller birds with them. The Bronzed Cowbirds were back and feeding on the grasses. One pair actually let us get quite close for some shots.

Bronzed Cowbird

Male Bronzed Cowbirds are interesting. When they make their calls they raise the feathers around their head and neck forming a hood.

Bronzed Cowbird

I could never get the full display in my shots. Always clicked a bit too slowly.

Bronzed Cowbird

This was the best I got. Love that sound they make when calling. Leo and I parted ways as the rain was even closer. At least we both got our Life Bird for the day.

Bronzed Cowbird

The Tree Swallow flock increased to hundreds and they began flying through the reeds and cattails feeding on midges. They were flying even more swiftly now but I tried to get any in focus. There were so many and flying so fast that I could never pick a particular subject.

Tree Swallow

Eventually I just stopped trying for a single bird and just set a focal point and hoped I could get anything worth keeping.

Tree Swallow

Finally, a single bird in focus. But the rain was getting closer so I turned to leave.

Tree Swallow

Behind me, I heard a weird kind of croak. I reversed course and suddenly a Purple Gallinule climbed up right in front of me and then disappeared just as quickly.

Purple Gallinule

A perfect ending to a twitching day. I headed home in the rain and had a little smile on my face. I look forward to a day out there with better weather.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Peacock Display

Its Friday which means I get a little light on the way home again so another chance to swing through the Genius neighborhood. Just inside the subdivision I spotted an easy opportunity. A large male Peacock was situated right by the road and was going into a full display.


I eased around the corner and parked against the curb. The Peacock was in full frame. Nice.


He slowly turned his plumage in the direction of a pair of peahens that were just out of the picture and began to shiver the feather to try and impress them. Never got a view from the rear before.


He filled them for a couple of minute but they were more busy picking at the grass and headed toward the back of the property.


Giving one more attempt he expanded his feathers once more.


No interest today. He slowly turned away an put his show piece away slowly, making sure every plume was back in place.


Love is in the air. Glad I could watch the whole performance for once.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Space X Launch

Finally a launch set near dark. Always more interesting. This evening was the latest night launch of Space X.

Space X

Best part of a launch near sunset is the interesting lighting that makes the vapor trail glow in orange.

Space X

This close up shows the separation of the booster from the payload portion of the rocket. They successfully landed the booster rocket back at the coast, too!

Space X

A little scale shot as a plane crossed my field of vision with the rocket in the background.

Space X

The juvenile Wood Stork feet a few feet away from me could not care less about me or the launch.

Wood Stork

Rushing back to watch the booster landing.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Surprise White Pelicans

Getting to head home before dark alway makes me look for photo ops along the way. My favorite quick loop is through the Genius area of Winter Park as is has a lot of retention ponds that may hold visiting shorebird and ducks. They also have Peacocks. Today a nice Peahen was strolling across a lawn.


The bigger surprise was what was in the pond just past her. A flock of American White Pelicans! Never had them in Winter Park before and I recently documented the huge flocks in downtown Orlando.

American White Pelican

A nice end to a busy day.