St. George Island May 3rd, 2010

My third trip to St. George Island this spring was about like the other two;  I missed the fallout!  There were still plenty of pretty birds hanging around, but not in the numbers that had been reported the day before.  What happens is these birds fly in from over the gulf.  They get here exhausted and hungry.  They rest a little, eat a little, and then they’re driven north by raging hormones!  Spring is breeding season and that’s the only thing on their mind!  No time to stop and visit; it’s time to fly!  It was a grey, cloudy, overcast day, making it difficult for pictures, but I did manage to catch a couple beauties!

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A young Summer Tanager – coming right at me!  I turned too late for a decent shot, but he’s such a cutie!  I had to share.~~There were American Redstarts all over the place – male and female.  This is the female:~~And this is the male:~~I was quite surprised to see a pretty big gator off the shore of the island.  Not a small one by any means!~~Orchard Oriole~~Gray Catbird~~And a Gray Catbird.  (There were catbirds all over the place!)~~I think this is a Black and White Warbler.~~He never gave me a clear shot, but he was hopping up and down the branches like they do, so I think that’s what he was.~~I have no idea what this little thing was,~~but she sure was pretty!~~The ever-present squirrel!~~A Willet~~An Eastern Towhee doing daily hygiene.~~All fluffed up and ready to go!~~From the Thrush Family – not sure what kind. ~Another Thrush~~Pretty sure this one is a Wood Thrush.~~A male and female Downy Woodpecker played ‘chase’ all around the trees!~~A beautiful little Magnolia Warbler.~~Resting in a tree…~~He was a real beauty.  Wonder how many times I walked by him before I saw him?~~Don’t know if this is a Double-crested Cormorant and a young one or if the lighter one is something else.~~Don’t know what was happening here, but if I was the one on the branch, I think I’d be moving!~~I think this was the most beautiful bird I saw that day.  I never got a clear shot, but it’s a Bay-breasted Warbler.~~~~Don’t know what this little thing was, but it sure was pretty.~~Osprey with lunch.~~Not a spectactular day, but anytime I can get out with birds and a camera is a good one!~~~

St. George Island, Fl 4/24/10

A trip to St. George Island to see if I could catch a few migrants.  Wow!  What a great day.  I am not 100% sure on some of the ID’s so if someone sees something wrong, don’t hesitate to correct me.

~Blue Grosbeak – This dude was from St. Marks the evening before – just threw him in ’cause he’s so purty!~~Prothonotary Warbler~~Can’t see much of him, but in all his brilliance, a Yellow Warbler~~There he is!~~Eastern Towhee~~Magnolia Warbler~~Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird~~Eastern Wood-Pewee~~A bee in a blossom.~~Chestnut-sided Warbler~~Not sure what this guy is – some kind of Kingbird or Flycatcher.~~Osprey~~Way up in the corner, a female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and below her, a male.~~There he is!~~Mockingbirds follow me wherever I go, so every once in a while, I gotta shoot one.~~A juvenile Summer Tanager.~~I think these are a couple of female Hooded Merganzers.~~Not sure what this one is, either.  Another Kingbird or Flycatcher.~~Pretty sure this is an Eastern Kingbird.~~I think this is a female Northern Parula.  (Or not???)~~A beautiful Scarlet Tanager~~A female and a juvenile Summer Tanager.~~An almost adult Summer Tanager.~~Another Scarlet Tanager.~~Another M.ockingbird~~A Cattle Egret~~Pretty sure this guy hiding in the weeds is a Dickcissel.~~Another view.~~

Mid-April – migration just getting a good start.  More to come!

 

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St.George Island, Florida4/10/10

A trip to St. George Island to catch a few early migrants.  Not much in the way of birds, but lots of other critters!

~~Osprey~~Female Red-Winged Blackbird~~~~~~Mockingbird~~An extremely large fish – I believe it’s a Gar~~~CHOMP!~~Eastern Towhee~Great Blue Heron~~

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

~~Spent a pleasant day at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.  All of the animals in the park – except for one – are native to Florida.  Most of the birds on dispay are birds that have been rehabbed from an injury and are unable to survive in the wild.~~There were several Barred Owls and all of them were sleeping in the warm sunshine like this guy!~~There were quite a few Roseate Spoonbills and I noticed they all seemed to be a bit smaller than the ones I see out on Bottoms Road.  Makes me wonder if being in capitivity stunts their growth.~~There was a little reptile house displaying some of Florida’s slithery, slinky beasties.~~Not one I would want to tangle with!!!~~These little gators are probably from last years hatching.  They were just a little over a foot long and look!!  They still have their baby teeth!!!~~This guy was a little bigger – probably a 2-3 year old.  I don’t think he was quite 3 feet…but what he lacked in length, he made up for in teeth!~~In the Children’s Education Building, there were several displays, including this Iguana.~~This Whopping Crane was painted on one of the walls in the Education Building.  It was quite impressive!~~I’ve been in Florida for almost 5 years now – and this is the first time I have seen Oranges!!  They really do grow on trees!~~Through the middle of the park runs a small stream and many birds, both injured and unable to fly and flighted – can be found there.  The Flamingo’s are just beautiful!~~~~~~~~Two Whooping Cranes!!  Big, Beautiful Birds!~~A lovely Wood Stork resting in the sun after a heavy grooming session!  Look at all the little white feathers around him!  Gotta love how those knees bend out!  ~~I recently learned an interesting fact.  There about 22 Species of Vultures in the world and all but 2 species have declining numbers – some getting to be critical.  The two species that are thriving are both found here in Florida. The Turkey Vulture and this little guy below – the Black Vulture. ~~White Ibis~~Great White Egret.~~Great Blue Heron.  There were several Herons nesting already.  A couple of times we had males fly right over our heads as they headed for the trees to search for just that right stick.  They would then take it back to the nest and give it to the female and she would fuss around until she found the proper place for it!~~Sandhill Crane~~~~This Hippo just celebrated his 50 birthday.  He belonged to the park way back when it was just a ‘roadside attraction’.  When the state bought the park and decided to host only native Florida animals, they found homes for all the other animals except this guy.  The locals petioned the governor and he was granted an honorary citizenship – making him the one and only native Florida Hippo.~~~~Taking pictures of Manatee is a hard thing to do – they just won’t pose the way you want them to and they are constantly moving – unless they are eating.  This guy was saving a little for later!~~All of the Manatees in the park are there as a result of injuries – caused by boats, crab traps, fishing lines and all kinds of other things that the human race continues to put in their waters.~~The park has a great underwater observation area.  The clip is just a little over a minute long – but long enough to show how graceful these big beasties are!  Enjoy! ~

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Whoopers!

I was one of the lucky people gathered this morning in the small seaside village of St. Marks, Florida to welcome the class of 2009 to their winter home.  I won’t babble on about what a totally awesome experience it was to watch these 10 birds fly in, but I will say that knowing there are less than 350 of these magnificent birds left in the wild on this entire planet, it made for a very goosebumply experience!!!

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To read more about Operation Migration, go here: 

http://www.operationmigration.org/Field_Journal.html

 

Morning at St. Marks

~~~~~~Downy Woodpecker~~Mockingbird~~~Boat-Tailed Grackle~~St. Marks Lighthouse~~~Willet~~Snowy Egret~~Li’l Gator~~Mockingbird~~White Ibis~~Semipalmated Plover~~I think this is an Eastern Wood PeeWee~~Great Blue Heron with Great Egret flying in the background~~One little Crab…~~…and all his friends~~A little yellow warbler-type bird~~~~Eastern Phoebe~~European Starling~~Carolina Wren~~~Mockingbird~~Black Vulture~~Lesser Yellowlegs~~Tri-Colored Heron~~Roseate Spoonbills

Bottoms Home, Otter Lake, and Home

As I was driving home after spending the morning volunteering at the Florida Wild Mammal Association, (please visit: http://www.blognow.com.au/FWMA/), I had an overwhelming urge to drive down Bottoms Road.  Even though the road is only about a mile from home, life has become busy and complicated and there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I just don’t make it out there as often as I’d like, but today, the pull was too great to ignore!

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It’s such a beautiful, serene area, and the birds are plentiful!  The first thing I came upon was a Great Egret – sitting out in the middle of one of the ponds – grooming!

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A little further down the road, a beautiful Willet in the weeds.

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A young Great Blue Heron.

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And a Red-Winged Blackbird sitting and singing!

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The next thing I came upon was a gorgeous little Tri-Colored Heron.  He put on quite a show for me.  He was using his wing to shadow the water so he could see the fish better.  I sat and watched him for a long time as he gave me both front and back shots!  Simply a beautiful little Heron!

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I knew it couldn’t get any better than that, so I made the turn-around to head home.  As it happens so many times, I was wrong.  It did get better.

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I spotted a little Green Heron sitting quietly in a tree right along side the road.  I shut off the car and slowly got out – hoping to be able to get close enough for a decent shot.  Boy…did I luck out!  He stayed put and let me shoot to my heart’s content…each time getting a little closer!

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He finally flew away and as I was getting back in the car, something else caught my eye.  It was another little Tri-Colored Heron and he was hunting the same way the other one had been – I only managed one shot before he disappeared into the weeds.

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It was time to go home…I had things waiting on me, so I got back in the car and headed out, but as I did, I spotted a drop-dead gorgeous Gray Kingbird high up in a tree.  Too far for a decent shot, but I had to take it anyway…this is a beautiful little bird!

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And then I spotted another Great Egret.

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I turned back to see if the Gray Kingbird was still there…and bless his heart, he came down for a closer shot!  What a cutie!!

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It was definitely time to go home!  But as I turned on my road, I watched as I drove right by my own house and headed for Otter Lake.  Otter Lake is about as far from my home as Bottoms Road is…except in the opposite direction!  Don’t know what possessed me to go out there, but as I was driving along, I spotted something moving along side the road.  I got closer to see it was a BLACK squirrel!  A HUGE, black squirrel.  I reached for my camera, but silly me, as I had left Bottoms Road, I had put it in the case and latched it!!  I couldn’t get to if fast enough and the huge squirrel was long gone by the time I got it out.  This will be my next obsession – trying to get a picture of that beautiful animal!!

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Not alot happening at Otter Lake.  The Osprey were calling from all directions.  Most of the nests look empty, so I am assuming the babies have fledged. I managed a shot of one BIG Osprey sitting high in the tree and a small one sitting on a lower branch….I think it’s a younster!

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I heard Moorhens calling and some Cormorants flew by, but not much else.  I did see these unusual looking flowers growing in the water and then started to notice other things…one thing lead to another which lead to more pictures!

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It was finally time to really head home!  But things just never seem to go the way I plan and as I passed the empty lot next to my house, I spotted what I thought was a Red-Headed Woodpecker.  I’ve seen Downy’s and Red-Bellied and even Pileated around here, but never a Red-Headed, so I pulled in my driveway, grabbed the camera, got out of the car and trudged through the small stretch of woods in hunt of a pecker!

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What a thrill when I discovered not one, but TWO!!  Couldn’t get them both in one shot, but there were most definitely two!

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As I was watching these birds, I noticed something move in the pond, so I walked that direction!  One thing lead to another….and I ended up walking (trespassing) all around the pond! (Which lead to more pictures!)

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My house is back behind those trees.  It was time to hike home!  I got in the door just as the phone was ringing – my husband telling me he was on his way home.  I had turned onto Bottoms Road at about 1:10pm….it was 5:35pm…..and he was going to get frozen pizza – again!!!  What a day!

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May at the Farm – St. Augustine

I apologize in advance.  I tried to narrow this down as I didn’t want to post a billion pictures.  But unfortunately, I wasn’t up to the task of deleting!  There are so many places in Florida to visit, but I find I am continually drawn back to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine.  It’s not only a bird lover’s dream; it’s also a photographer’s dream!  The birds and their babies are so close and so beautiful, a person could spend hours there…and I did!  Here are the results:

~~Tri-Colored Egret~~~~Cattle Egret~~The only Roseate Spoonbills I saw – definately a male and female – but too far away to see if there was a nest.~~Gator with bird poop all over him!~~Snowy Egrets~~~~~~~When I first saw this little monkey, I thought he looked so very sad.  Then I read the sign that said he was 30+ years old – and according to the sign, very old for this type of monkey.  When I looked at him again, yes…I could see the little old man in him!~~Wood Storks~~~~~~Eggs and Babies~~~~~~Very Cool Crocs~~~~~~~~~Of all the birds I watched that day, the Great Egrets are the ones that blew me away!  What absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, beautiful birds!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~And since it was the Alligator Farm….I’ll end with a couple gators!~~~ 

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Alligator Farm – Great Egrets

Another of the beautiful birds visiting the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine were the Great Egrets.  I caught this one grooming and couldn’t stop watching him!

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The feathers were so pure white and looked so very, very soft!

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The Great Egrets seemed to be the only ones nesting.  I think it’s a bit early in the season, but these two certainly were what I would call ‘love birds’!

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While I was watching them, something really cool happened.  One of these beauties flew over into a small tree right beside where I was standing.  He was so close…and so beautiful!

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It didn’t take long for me to realize he was looking for a stick for the nest!

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He had to pull and tug, but he finally found just the right one!

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One more good yank….

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…and it was free!

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What happened next really blew me away…brought tears to my eyes.  He looked right at me…

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….and I swear I heard him say, "Get Ready!".  And he left me with this shot!  Amazing!!!

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What a beautiful bird!!  Next entry…Spoonbills!

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Other Birds

The whole reason I went to the Alligator Farm was to see what birds had flown in.  I thought it was probably too early for breeding season and was just hoping to catch some beauties basking in the Florida Winter!  I call this entry ‘Other Birds’ because it includes all the birds except the Great Egret and the Roseate Spoonbill – they each rate an entry of their own…but first, the Other Birds!

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Many of the birds were just waking up and starting to move around, but the Night Herons were just drifting off to sleep. Above is a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron and below is a Black-Crowned.

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This is a juvenile and like many kids, he wasn’t quite ready for bed!

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I stopped to check on him a little later and he had finally found a branch and settled in for a snooze!

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Besides the many Night Herons, I saw one Great Blue Heron.

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And one Tri-Colored Heron.

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I only saw 2 Snowy Egrets, but they were never in range of the camera – however this beautiful little Green Heron popped up for a shot!

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There were also several White Ibis present – they all seemed to stay back in the shadows of the trees.

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Not all the Night Herons were sleeping.  This Yellow-Crowned seemed to be wide awake.

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And this Black-Crowned needed groomed before she could settle in for some sleep!

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I’ll end this entry with one of the caged birds from the Australia Exhibit….a beautiful Kookaburro sitting in the sun!

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More to come!

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