Sunday, April 28, 2013

Viera Wetlands 4/27/13

I made an early morning trip to the Viera Wetlands and adjacent "Click" Ponds this morning. This Loggerhead Shrike was perched on a sign along the narrow road leading into the wetlands. I thought it would take flight as I made my way through the entrance but instead it just glared at me. Maybe it was trying to figure out how to hang me on the fence as it does its other prey.

There are still a handful of active Great Blue Herons at the wetlands. This heron was spending its Saturday morning doing what many of us do, making home repairs. This heron had two young chicks that appeared to be less than 2 weeks old. Mom made multiple trips to some nearby shrubs to gather additional material for the nest.

Across the gravel drive was an active Anhinga nest. This mass of woven sticks was sitting delicately on the side of a palm tree, overhanging the water. The tops of these same palms had earlier in the season been occupied by nesting Great Blues.

I saw four mostly white, fluffy chicks in the nest. Three of them were very active, but I didn't see any movement from the fourth chick. Young Anhinga typically stay in the nest for up to 3 weeks.

In addition to the GBHs and the Anhinga, I also saw a few Green Herons gathering nesting materials. There is also a massive Cattle Egret nesting area at the wetlands. The air space in that area is quite congested with Egrets coming and going as they gather materials. Grackles can also be add to the nesting list. The crows were causing a disruption among the Grackles this morning. I guess I wasn't the only one who wanted eggs for breakfast...

 Black-necked Stilts are still hanging around the ponds and wetlands. I just love to see these long-legged beauties!

Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekend Warblers

As this past Sunday afternoon was slipping away and I was slightly sulking at the thought that the weekend had passed without any birding, I spotted a pleasant surprise. Right in my own backyard lurked this Black-throated Blue Warbler. While conditions were poor for any decent photos, I grabbed my camera to attempt to capture my first photos of this species. I slowly approached the area and the warbler quickly retreated into the brush. I stood motionless for a while and the warbler returned for a little foraging right out in the open.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

I noticed quite a bit of movement in a neighboring  tree and then spotted this Blackpoll Warbler.

Blackpoll Warbler 

This warbler wasn't nearly as shy as the Black-throated. It bounced rapidly from branch to branch, stopping occasionally to glance in my direction.

A few minutes later, in the same tree, I came across a third warbler speices, an American Redstart. I was starting to think I was having a mini fall out in my yard!

This American Goldfinch also stopped by my bird feeder to check out my limited facilities. A few minutes later, the Cardinals moved in and displaced the Goldfinch.

I have never seen any of these species in my yard before and was excited to get to see them close up. Here are a few of the "regulars" that do drop by often...


Red-shouldered Hawk

Painted Bunting

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beach Birds

 The Least Terns have returned to the area! I saw my FOY Least Tern on Easter morning along the Indian River near my house. This week I saw a dozen of them at the beach near Jetty Park. These tiny terns are rather boisterous and I usually detect their presence upon hearing their distinctive calls. Luckily for this Least Tern, very few gulls were at the beach today so it wasn't harassed when it arrived on the beach with a fish!

Over the past two months, the Royal Terns have been developing their breeding plumages. Breeding plumages can only mean one thing!

Courtship appears to be going well!

Among the large group of Royal Terns and Black Skimmers, there was this lone Sandwich Tern. The tern is also developing its black cap.

I've been to Jetty Park twice over the past two weeks and both times there have been ten or more banded Royal Terns among the large flock. I've only been able to read a few of the many numbers on the bands.

Today, I saw this banded Ruddy Turnstone. The colored flags are much easier to read!

As I walked along the surf, the Skimmers were making their way to the water to cool off.

One skimmer made its way to the water followed by the entire at a time!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Franklin Mountain Madness

Franklin Mountain State Park turned out to be another great birding location in west Texas.There are multiple entrances to the park and we did some hiking on the trails located near the Tom Mays entrance. There is an easy trail (good for small kiddos) that just happens to have a bird blind located near a water source and several bird feeders. Here are some of the birds I stumbled upon.

The Cactus Wren was one of my favorite "desert" birds to see.

Cactus Wren (lifer)

Curve-billed Thrasher (lifer)

I saw a good number of House Finches but the one stood out from the rest. The other male House Finches had a reddish/pinkish hue while this one was a vibrant orange. I've read there is an "orange variant" House Finch, which I believe this was. The color difference is typically cause by diet.

House Finch (Orange variant?)

House Finch

 White-crowned Sparrow (lifer)

 White-crowned Sparrow

 White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow? 

White-winged Dove

This fellow and I seemed to be in sync with our feeling that it was gonna be a good day!