Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 17

28 Apr 2013, Lake Apopka Bike Trail

Stray, orphan, curious?  This cute Bobcat kitten ...

was crying nonstop and when we moved further along on the trail closer to the sound, walks right up to us.  No parent was around.  So what is the call?  Did the parent get eaten by an alligator or killed somehow?  Why would the kitten come to our feet unless it was starving and no parent around?  Hard call to make.  We informed the park staff, they marked the location and I gave them the tel number of Lindy at Back to Nature who said they will rehab it if it is rescued.  There is a slim chance that the parent is way out of range hunting so even though the behavior of the kitten seems desperate, you don't want to rescue a kitten that has a parent.  You just don't know for sure so this is a really hard call to make.

We heard two Yellow-billed Cuckoos for sure and a third one a mile away but we don't know if it could have been one of these two.  Twenty Cedar Waxwings and three Northern Bobwhite were some other highlights.  White Pelicans are still lingering.  Saw five Marsh Rabbits.  The best dragonfly spotted today was a Painted Skimmer.  Members in party were Karen Hamblett, Pam Meharg and Paulette Fiske.

26  Apr 2013, Lake Apopka Bike Trail

Janet Leavens and I had a good day on the Lake Apopka Bike Trail.  Eli Schaperow later joined us.  Both male and female Orchard Orioles along with fifteen Bobolink were the highlights.  Some late migrants still lingering were the Belted Kingfisher, House Wren and Marsh Wrens.  Other nice sightings were two Least Bittern, Black-crowned Night-heron in-flight (2 juv, 3 adult), Blackpoll Warblers and a Northern Waterthrush--61 species over a 3 mile walk.

25 Apr 2013, Lake Apopka Bike Trail

This Softshell Turtle is either injured or it is laying eggs but in either case it is covered with ants. I called FWC and they could not help me, saying it might be dying. I'll keep trying to find someone to see if it needs moved, it is OK just laying eggs or it is dying. Click the image to enlarge it. Not sure if those ants are fire ants. (update April 26 ... the turtle was gone so likely it was fine, just laying eggs).

Two male Orchard Orioles as well as ...

five Bobolinks were on the bike trail today.

24 Apr 2013, Wekiwa Springs State Park, Markham Tract

What is black and white and all over, as in all over one tree?

In close proximity to each other in one tree, there were two Carolina Chickadees (looked like they were copulating at one point), four Blackpoll Warblers and one Black-and-white Warbler.  A total of seven Blackpoll Warblers were in this general area, and there were at least four Carolina Chickadees and two Black-and-white Warblers.  Later, two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flew in to break up the black and white show.

This angle from the underside shows the male Blackpoll Warbler's lateral throat stripe, pink legs and underside well.

This young Red-shouldered Hawk has a lot of learning to do ...

It tried to land on a young Longleaf Pine but had trouble getting a footing.  It finally figured out how to land but then took off  to grab some very small prey on the ground.  It proceeded to make three more quick attacks on the ground but grabbing prey that was very small, maybe bugs it gulped them so fast.  It looked like it was using up far more energy flying and attacking than what it was getting from its hunting--bigger prey will be on the menu soon if it hopes to survive.  The rufous shoulder seems more intense than most young of this species and the white crescent on the wing tips shows well.

23 Apr 2013, Mead Gardens

Re-visited the same location this morning, as did some migrants.  Or, was it a new batch of migrants replacing the old?

 Like yesterday, both male and female Cape May Warblers were present, as were the ...

Black-and white Warblers.  While watching two Black-and-white Warblers, a Blackpoll Warbler landed just above one of them.  I saw two brilliant male Indigo Buntings as well as females.  After seeing a good number of male Common Yellowthroats, a female finally showed and American Redstarts were plentiful.  The female Northern Flicker was hanging around the same territory but there was no sign of a male.  A thrush of the genus Catharus was seen but too briefly to make an ID.  More Ovenbirds were in the gardens today than yesterday.  I saw a female yesterday, and today I saw the male ...

 American Goldfinch.  They must have had a lover's spat since they were widely separated from each other.

22 Apr 2013, Mead Gardens

Anytime you can see an Ovenbird up off the ground and its clutter makes for a lucky day.

American Redstarts, both male and female, were in the swamp and Boardwalk area.  Near this Ovenbird, a Black-and-white Warbler was foraging, and near that warbler was a female Northern Flicker.  Ellen and Marcus reported Blackpoll Warblers from the other side of the gardens near the azaleas but I failed to find them.

The migrant of the day ...

 ... was the Black-throated Blue Warbler with multiple sightings near the boardwalk. 

I counted at least three male Cape May Warblers.  Marcus got the better photo of one of these guys but still it was my best to date for this species.

The female Cape May Warblers were close by the males feeding in the same flock.

I had to ignore this Prairie Warbler for a while because there was some good bird activity nearby.  You know you are having a good day birding when you say to the bird, "give me a minute, I'll be back to you in just a bit".

The Carolina Wren never seems to smile much; this one looks angry about something; maybe the ant tickling him on his belly will get him to smile.

A Florida Box Turtle made sure the reptiles were included in the photo spread.

Give a gift of a camera this graduation season.  It may start a lifelong passion of nature for a loved one.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Week 16

20 Apr 2013,  Mead Gardens

Size does NOT matter, at least to this Downy Woodpecker. Usually I see them pecking at a tree trunk or limb that has some thickness to it. This little twig that this male is pecking holes in has a thickness less than the length of its small bill.

A Green Tree Frog was here on this bamboo at 800 am. After leaving to get lunch, I came back to look for migrants and this frog was in the same place at 300 pm.

The most common warbler of the day in the gardens was the Common Yellowthroat.

I did not notice the left eye of this Barred Owl until I reviewed my images at home. Images taken a short time before this one did not show anything wrong with the eye. My assumption is it is the outer eyelid just looking weird. It is the length of the projection outward that looks really strange, almost as if something is sticking into the eye. Of the two adults and the two juveniles that have been seen here recently, Karen and I saw one (maybe two different) adults and one juvenile. 

Besides this female American Redstart and a male, other warbler species seen were the Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, the Common Yellowthroats I mentioned and Palm Warbler--a number of them are still hanging around. Karen and I also saw a male and female Indigo Bunting and a Northern Flicker. A Cooper's Hawk was on its nest.

Introduce a friend to the beauty of the natural world.

18 Apr 2013, Wekiwa Springs SP Sand Lake

I have noticed that a good percentage of images (like this one) of my Swallow-tailed Kites show them feeding on the fly. This raptor is a favorite of many nature lovers and I always enjoy the aerial show they put on. Click the image to see the prey. 

 Maybe the Gopher Tortoise will be one of the featured stars in the next Transformers movie. 

17 Apr 2013, Wekiwa Springs SP Markham Tract

Her boyfriend ...

His girlfriend ...

Eli and I saw this loving couple in an unlikely spot.  The location was in a hydric hammock.  Eastern Bluebirds' habitat is open areas and edges next to open areas.  Maybe they just wanted to come to this swamp to see how the other half lives.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Week 15

14 Apr 2013, Orlando Wetlands and Seminole Ranch

A Brown Anole was showboating his dewlap at Orlando Wetlands Park.   


Karen, Pam and I biked from Orlando Wetlands to the Florida Trail and over to Seminole Ranch. In a marsh near the Saint Johns River, we came across this Eastern Glass Lizzard.

Enjoy your nature outings and introduce a friend to nature's wildlife and habitats.

13 Apr 2013, Black Bear Wilderness and Wilson's Landing

This Swallow-tailed Kite soaring above the Wekiva River at Wilson's Landing Park decided the soft fuzzy stuff can wait until later. "You can't build a nest without a solid foundation", his mate told him.

A racoon at Black Bear Wilderness begged me to take a picture. He didn't want the birds to get all the attention.

12 Apr 2013, Audubon Park and Merritt Island NWR

It is always interesting to go to a nature preserve for the first time.  Audubon Park in Volusia County is a small park and incorporates the Ledford Regional Surface Water Treatment Facility.  It has enough habitat diversification to attract a number of species.  Egrets, herons, Wilson's Snipe, Solitary Sandpipers, Black-necked Stilts, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Wild Turkey, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Crested Flycatcher and other species were seen today.

Walk carefully! ...

A Killdeer nest and four eggs were seen just a few feet from one of the main trails.  One has to wonder how many eggs are destroyed by walkers who never even knew they stepped on a nest.

UPDATE 16 Apr ... The eggs are gone.  If an animal had preyed upon them, it is likely the shells would be there.  More than likely, some low-life scumbag took the eggs.

After watching a Swallow-tailed Kite and two Red-tailed Hawks for a while, Eli Schaperow and I hit the road with Merritt Island NWR as the destination.  We made a short visit to C.S. Lee Park on the way and we counted 8 Bald Eagles, including one that looked to be a 4 year-old, two more sub adults and five adults.

An attractive male American Avocet in breeding plumage was seen on Blackpoint Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR.  It would have been nice to see this beautiful bird with some good lighting but it was overcast the entire day. 

It was just a few weeks ago when I saw over 3000 American White Pelicans on Biolab Road at Merritt Island NWR.  Today, we saw just two.  I assume many have left the refuge for their summer home but if not, they did a great job of staying hidden since we did not see a single one on East and West Gator, Peacocks Pocket or on Wildlife Drive.

8 Apr 2013

[ Correction Update April 23 ... Thanks to Dave Fallow of Madison Wisconsin for catching my error about the below post ... it is not an Orange-crowned Warbler.  It is a Pine Warbler. ]

This bird loves Florida! I first noticed this Orange-crowned Warbler on March 27. 

For the next three days, I saw this bird in the exact same tree in Wekiwa Springs State Park.  I continued to see this bird every other day the following week.   On April 8, I again saw this bird in the same regular tree.  I suppose it was not passing through as a migrant but maybe wintered here.  I'm not sure when it is due to arrive home in its northern breeding grounds, but it sure seems to love hanging out in sunny Florida.

Three male Summer Tanagers were singing in Wekiwa Springs in locations that I saw them in 2012.

Addendum 23 Apr ...

Now, THIS is the Orange-crowned Warbler that I had been seeing so many days regularly in the same tree.  I was too confident that it would be there when I arrived and failed to look closely at the bird live and in the image I posted.   "Yep, there it is again" without even looking properly to ID it.  There is a small tail feather detail mark that IDs it is the same bird in many of the photos I have of it.  I told Dave that he won the "eagle eye award of the day" for catching the error. Thx, Dave.