Saturday, July 28, 2012

Viera Wetlands 7/27/12

Things seemed to have picked up quite a bit at the wetlands this week. We saw large populations of the regulars as well as a handful of birds we do not see quite so often. The first cell near the entrance was packed with Great Egrets, we counted close to 50, as well as a mix of Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue, Green, and Little Blue Herons, and Common Gallinules.

Little Blue Heron

This young Wood Stork was relaxing right next to its parents. The juveniles are almost as adorable as their parents:)
Juvenile Wood Stork

I rarely see Black-necked Stilts at the wetlands , but I counted 8 of them today. This one, which I believe is an immature one, was foraging near 2 adults. These shorebirds are quite intriguing looking. They have such delicate features; got to love those super long, thin legs!

Black-necked Stilt
Roseate Spoonbills are occasionally found at the wetlands. This one was enjoying spending some time all alone, away from the other birds.

Roseate Spoonbill

I wonder how hard it is to clean your feathers with a spoon...

This guy then came along with an apparent disregard for the Spoonbills personal space. The White Ibis looked sort of like a lost, confused tourist, as it walked right into the photo and just stood there...

Speaking of Ibis, there are tons of White and Glossy Ibises at the wetlands right now. Other species noted include: Ospreys, Black Vutlures, Cattle Egrets (tons and tons of them), Tricolored Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles, Least Terns, Mottled Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, and lots of American Alligators.

White Ibis

Gulf Fritillary

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lily Ducklings

We spent the past week exploring the sights and sounds of Chicago. We saw this Mallard family among the pads of the lily pool near Lincoln Park.

The ducklings made their way over and under the large floating mats.

They sure were adorable!

This Green Heron was trying to get a better look at the approaching youngsters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Flying Kites

Yesterday afternoon we took a drive out to the Moccasin Island tract. We scanned for birds along the drive, seeing 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, a handful of waders in the canal, numerous Mockingbirds, and a few pairs of Cardinals. We parked in the designated area at the end of the drive, but decided not to go too far from the car as a large storm was approaching. We heard several Eastern Meadowlarks nearby and saw two Swallow-tailed Kites circling the area.

Swallow-tailed Kite

These kites are beautiful raptors, which are easily recognized by their forked tails. They can be found in this area in the spring/summer time and the majority of the time are seen drifting high in the sky.

One Kite had an eye on something in the field and made several low passes to investigate. I didn't see the kite pick up any thing in the time I was watching, but I was pretty far away. Kites consume their meals on the fly.

We walked a short distance to another area where the cattle were grazing and upon looking up noticed a large group of additional kites. I counted 21 more Swallow-tailed Kites. The field was also packed with Ibis, predominantly Glossies. Most of the cattle each had their own set of Cattle Egret groupies surrounding them. My son was most amused by the Egrets that were actually standing on the cattle. 

Cattle + Egret=Cattle Egret

Red-shouldered Hawk

The hawks can be seen frequently on the fence posts along the road.

There is no shortage of dragonflies in the area as well:)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Here Kitty, Kitty

While hiking along the sandy trails that wind through the open grassy forest of the St. Sebastian River Preserve this week, I stopped to listen to a call.  "Here kitty, kitty, kitty", nope (my two-year son's favorite word), it was not the owner of a lost feline, it was the call of a Bachman's Sparrow. 

Bachman's Sparrow

It didn't take long to find  this one in a Pine Tree just above us. Bachman's Sparrows can be quite elusive, however, they are generally easier to spot this time of year as they show their faces while singing to one another. Bachman's Sparrows typically dwell in pine woodlands, which are found readily at this preserve.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches are also common dwellers at this location. We saw quite a few of each of  these species on this trip.

The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, however, continued to elude me, but I'll be back! We were able to find several Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The hiking continued later in the week at the Cruickshank Sanctuary, our favorite place to visit the Florida Scrub Jays!

Tons of water lilies are blooming in the small creek near the entrance. I liked the way the early morning sun was shining on this pair.

Florida Scrub-Jay

We see this same Scrub-Jay every time we visit the sanctuary. It's easy to identify this one due to its bill deformity~unless there is more than one, but I don't believe that to be the case. We are considering giving him a name, any suggestions?

Monk Parakeet (aka Quaker Parrot)

This Monk Parakeet took us by surprise when it flew in and landed on a branch above us. This was the first I've seen here, but there are a few colonies of these feral birds in Central Florida. South Florida has a larger population of them.

Northern Mockingbird

Young Mockingbirds are every where!

Northern Bobwhite

Ran into Mr. (Bob)White; always a pleasure!

Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sandwiches on the Beach

This past weekend I went to Jetty Park a little after sunrise and got a chance to enjoy a few Sandwiches on the beach. 

One of the first birds I spotted as I made my way to the beach was a Magnificent Frigatebird circling the sky above the inlet. This is the second one I've seen over the past week as I also saw one near the Sebastian Inlet. Numerous Ospreys and a few Black Vultures were also soaring the skies. 

I was most excited to see a few Sandwich Terns that were standing proudly among the Royals.

Sandwich Terns are handsome looking, medium sized terns.

This Laughing Gull discovered a healthy-looking breakfast in the surf; a washed up bone!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Here, There & Everywhere

Sunrise over the Indian River
Rockledge, Fl

We have been out and about to several locations over the past week. Mead Gardens in Orlando was our first stop, a small side trip on our way to an appointment.  This was my second short trip here, and I definitely need to visit when I can spend more time at this beautiful, peaceful location! We only had time to take a walk along the boardwalk, where a handful of birds were out in the early morning sun.

This Great Crested Flycatcher was easy to find as we heard it singing long before we came upon it.

The only time it was quiet was when it was consuming what appeared to be a spider.

Over the weekend we spent time kayaking the 1,000 Islands in Cocoa Beach. The islands are a flood-tide delta deposit formed by a past strong storm surge that came across the barrier island.

The islands are beautiful place to paddle through. They offer views of the rich tropical and temperate plant species as well as numerous species of wading birds, Ospreys, and even songbirds.

We found a handful of White-eyed Vireos in various locations.  I will have to admit finding a songbird from a kayak can be more challenging than when on foot, and trying to taking a photo of one from a moving boat with a wiggly toddler on your lap can be even more arduous.

My paddling helper!

Yesterday we took a bright & early morning trip to the Sebastian Inlet State Park. As I enjoyed the beautiful colors of the sunrise, I began to sense the presence of a ghost....

It turned out to just be this Ghost Crab; it was also enjoying the sunrise!

The cool patterning on the crab helps it to stay camouflaged in the sand, safe from predators.

This Reddish Egret was hanging around the rocks of the jetty.

This intense fisherman (Great Blue Heron) was scanning the surf.

The parking lot appeared to have new security.....strangest place I've seen a Green Heron.

Keep cool and have a great weekend:)