Saturday, July 09, 2016

Jaywatch 2016, Pt. 1

Oh, how I was dreading this year's Jay Watch. We are doing it a bit later than in past years and we have been under very humid and hot weather for a week. Fortunately, the morning was not too bad and we even had a bit of a breeze to keep things a little cooler. Plus, we ended fairly early. Not too bad. We gathered for a group photo just before heading out to the survey areas.

Always easy to spot me in my beard and banding uniform.


My group began at Site 41 in the area well known for a reliable group of Jays. The first one jumped up to check us out right away.

Florida Scrub Jay

Another bird (unbanned, we determined after a lot of looks and scoping) stayed high in a snag and was joined by another bird as we surveyed the area.

Florida Scrub Jay

The most curious Florida Scrub Jay came down to check us out. It only has a single Federal aluminum band. I decided to call it Silver. I didn't notice until later (we are really focused on band colors) that this bird was molting in tail feathers.

Florida Scrub Jay

One of the first Florida Scrub Jays I remember at Buck Lake was a bird with mostly green bands. I was wondering where it was when she finally popped into view. Two Kelly Green bands plus the metal band leaves me calling her Kelly.

Florida Scrub Jay

We went to our next site points and Kelly and Silver, here atop a pine, followed us down the road.

Florida Scrub Jay

We headed farther down the check points to gather Susan from her spot and I noticed a Jay coming up behind here. Turned out it was Silver once again, following us even farther along the way. Those molting tail feathers give it away, too.

Florida Scrub Jay

I was hoping to get a good shot in the open and Silver complied.

Florida Scrub Jay

Kelly soon joined us, too. These were the only Jays we had on our transect but it was nice to get some good clear shots to share with the group.

Florida Scrub Jay

The next spot found me beginning to play the taped calls to attract more jays. Soon, I saw a Swallow-tailed Kite circling overhead. We have to stop playing calls so any juveniles bring themselves into view as any predators are around. Kites will take a young bird when they can.

Swallow-tailed Kite

No trip out to the scrub is complete without me getting a shot of Tar Flower blooming. They are waning right now but still beautiful.

Tar Flower

I finished my point a bit ahead of others and started toward the truck for pickup. Susan (one of our banding volunteers) was winding up her spot at that point.


We found a few Gopher Tortoises along the side of the roads and Maria, head of the Jay Watch here, moved it to the scrub. I didn't realize it but I heard rustling and had to investigate. There it was, plowing through the underbrush.

Gopher Tortoise

Only one family to record but I was happy to get some shots along the way. Tomorrow, I will be in another transect at Buck Lake and hope to find more Jays.

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