Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 43

23 Oct 2013

Good birding tomorrow?


At 1100pm, this Jacksonville radar is an example of what the Melbourne radar also is showing--the yellows and orange/reddish are birds in the air.  The wind speed is 5mph in Jax from the WNW so the colors are showing objects moving with a southerly component at 15-30 mph.  That ain't dust and smoke, folks (that moves at the same speed as the wind)--that means powered flight.


This is a reflectivity image showing birds in the air--the light, medium and dark blue.  The green is moisture and the browns are likely smog and dust.

NATIONAL REFLECTIVITY at 1100pm 23 Oct 2013

Taken together, and the fact there are cold fronts moving through north of us, means we could have some good birding Thursday and Friday, and there is a chance of some western vagrants arriving.

Mariel and Angel Abreu and their Badbirdz Reloaded website (link below) are much more experienced reading the radar, as are some of the listserv birders, but by the looks of things, we could have some interesting birding in the next few days.

Badbirdz Reloaded

UPDATE ... On Thursday, October 24, 2013 1:21 PM, Bob Richter wrote:
(excerpt) "Over the past hour approximately 10,000 Turkey Vultures have passed over my location several miles southwest of downtown Jacksonville."  This was posted on the Florida-L listserv.

I responded to this post:

"At 300pm on Lust Road near LANSRA, I saw a kettle of 140 Turkey Vultures with a few Anhingas mixed in.
As soon as the birds at the top of the kettle started peeling off for the next thermal, I glanced back and there was an equally large kettle to the north.  I then started scanning the skies and saw at least two other kettles further north, each spaced about 1/4 mile apart.
I had to leave but wish I could have stayed to see how extensive these kettles stretched out.  It wasn't anywhere near the number Bob saw but still impressive.  Based on Bob's number, I'll be looking tomorrow in hopes of seeing this huge movement."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week 41 Florida Keys Hawkwatch

7 Oct 2013 to 12 Oct 2013

The first part of my annual trek to the Florida Keys Hawkwatch was very exciting, as is usual for this fabulous venue.  I'll be going back in a short time for round two.

On 8 October, we had a fallout occur after some weather moved through.  Between 200 to 300pm, the weather system also brought a very large number of songbirds.  114 Peregrine Falcons were counted after 200pm and in the sky with them were thousands of songbirds.

I witnessed numerous songbirds being attacked in the air, including a Peregrine Falcon that stooped on a songbird, did a complete loop head on in relation to me, then stooped a gain after completing the loop.

When the day's counting was over, Rafael, Colleen and I did a short walk around the site, and in a small plot of land no bigger than the average suburban homesite, we had 16 warbler species, a flycatcher, a Baltimore Oriole, two grosbeak species, vireos, et al.

One of the many birds we saw after the fallout, a Baltimore Oriole.

Hey, where's my chestnut?  This Chestnut-sided Warbler is a hatch year female, lacking the chestnut stripe on its side that males and adults have.  This is one of the 16 warbler species we saw in a small area, most of them in one tree.

Green Iguana in the green.

No easy feeding for this guy.  He just loved hovering while eating.

Spectacular air show put on by a Short-tailed Hawk

For three days during this week at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, a Short-tailed Hawk put on an incredible display of kiting, parachuting and stooping.  We were fortunate to have one remain close and it rewarded us with an air show for the ages.
In this image, it is soaring.  When kiting, this raptor is near motionless in the sky.  We watched it kite then we thrilled to see it "parachute" -- descending in a slow fall.
Here, the hawk is parachuting,  legs hanging down with talons ready to go to work, and falling slowly toward its prey.  In an instant, it will then fold its wings back like a Peregrine Falcon and stoop on its prey. 

Week 40

5 October, 2013  Lake Apopka

Off in the distance, I give myself the "what the heck" ... what is it?  Then, for a second, I thought I was looking at a cobra. 

It turned out to be a Florida Cottonmouth.  From a distance, its wide head, and because it had its head raised into the air, gave the impression of a cobra.  I have gotten close to rattlesnakes to take images.  This is a species you don't mess with.

2 October, 2013  Wekiwa Springs State Park

A Gray Catbird deserves a special treat now and then, just like people do ...

I sometimes put some berries on top my vanilla ice cream.  This Catbird decided to put a dab of vanilla ice cream on top its berry.