Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Viera Wetlands

So, I heard a rumor that there was a Black Hawk at the Viera Wetlands today. I went out to investigate. I didn't see any sign of a black hawk, but I did see tons of other cool stuff. If you didn't GOYB and join me, here's what you missed:

 This was weird. I was just trying to get a close up, but when I downloaded it, his eye was all weird. I took a few shots, and it looked like this in all of them. It looks like the eyes of someone in a cartoon after they have take mescaline.
There is a story here... I would bet that this armadillo's name is Betsy and she likes flowers.
Check out is feet! It's weird, they look like a combination of gallinule feet mixed with duckie feet.
My nemesis bird. I don't think I will ever get a decent photo of a Kingfisher.
Ring-necked ducks.
A Tri-colored Heron posing nicely.
This is not a white faced ibis, it's a glossy ibis coming into breeding plumage. Otherwise it would have been 296.
I think they were tired of me taking their picture, they mooned me en mass.
A Shoveller. Such a cool bird.
I love his exuberance!
A Green Heron, looking sneaky.
Better, but still not a great Belted Kingfisher shot.
A butter butt, aka, Yellow-rump Warbler.
I love this picture. He could use this as his high school year book picture.
I like the one lone curl, he looks kind of emo.
Great Egret. I think the key to getting a good photo of these guys is to take it on a cloudy day so they contrast more.
This is not a @$@#@# white faced ibis either.
I think this is a Red-bellied Slider.
This little guy and his mom were so close to my car I couldn't get them both in the picture. Look at his lips, how they have these little red spots...
This is his mom, notice how she has the red spots on her lips too. Eww, I just realized, maybe they are  blood spatters from an annoying photographer!
Sometimes  I feel really ugly. But then I see a Soft-shell Turtle and think, "Well, at least I don't look like a Soft-shell Turtle." Don't get me wrong, all nature is beautiful, but I think given my druthers I'd rather look like a Roseate Spoonbill.
Another gator. Around lunchtime as it got warmer, they all came out .
This picture just struck me as adorable if I do say so myself.
I love to color of Green Herons, even though they aren't green. This would be a perfect picture if that reed wasn't there.
I looked for the hawk down 4 Mile Road. Didn't find it, but this Kestrel came out to say hi to me.

It was another awesome day out there! We are getting into breeding season, so it will only get better. Make sure you GOYB join me for a future walk!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Manatee Watch

I was having an allergy attack and wasn't in the mood to stay and take pictures today, but there was something wierd going on, and I wanted to get at least a few pictures. Through the binoculars, I thought maybe it was a mama and baby, but after I took the picture and blew it up, I think not:

This was a manatee nomming on some grass that had come over the spillway.
This was a manatee feeding near trash floating in the water. That makes me so furious.
This is the weird one. I thought it was 2 manatees at first, but if you click to enlarge, you can see that it's one manatee, lying on her back just playing with her food!

The manatee watches have been great fun this year. You can look at the pictures here, but it's way more fun to come out and see them in person! Drop me an email if you want to GOYB and really experience a manatee!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Annual Unofficial Christmas Day Bird Count

We had a lovely outing today where we were joined by Pat, Bill and Kim. We saw lots of cool birds, duckies seemed to be the specialty of the day. If you didn't GOYB to join us, here's what you missed:

I didn't get hardly any people pictures at all! I hope Pat took some. Here is a really nice one of Pat and Bill though.
This is a Coot. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this picture reminds me of Barty. I think it's the inky blackness.
3 Pelicans in formation.
 It wouldn't be the Viera Wetlands without an Ibis striking a pose.
Two male Hooded Mergansers. I've seen these a million times, but didn't realize till I got home that I had never added them to my life list! They are officially number 295 on my photographic life list.
This guy was sitting on a post. EVERYONE was taking his picture, and I swear, he knew it. I could hear him saying, "Shoot my right profile dahling..."
Northern Shovelers. Probably my favorite ducky for many reasons. Mostly because the live up to their name, their beak is like a shovel.
This is one of those stories that tells a story. "Look at me! Look at me!"
"Oh man, Steve's been drinking again... Let's just hide and pretend he's not with us..."
The female shovelers make me laugh. They remind me of those stupid actresses who get their lips plumped up to look like bee sting victims. Except it looks good on the ducks, on people they just look like idiots.
Ring neck ducks. Another story....
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Aw, come on, it's not that big of a deal, it was just ONE time..."
"Alas, we are just two ships who are passing in the night..."
"Woo hoo! She came back!"

It was a great day out in the wetlands! Be sure to come out and join us one of these days for exercise, birds and most likely silliness!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bird Chasing and Manatee Watch

We started off the day by chasing a Says Phoebe down south of here. David saw it, but I did not, but I got a few other shots. They I did the weekly Sunday manatee survey. Here's what you missed if you didn't GOYB:

 This is a mockingbird who posed nice.
A Kestrel who also posed nice for me.
Manatee watch was so disturbing. So much trash coming over the spillway. Who the hell thinks it's ok to litter?
A manatee coming up amongst bottles. We desperately need a bottle bill in Florida. If anyone knows who I can contact about rattling some cages on the subject, please email me.
In better news, here is a cormorant kissing a catfish...
The pelican looks angry, not sure if upset about the trash or the interspecies kissing.
This cormorant was trying to fish in the middle of all this trash.
Here, a different cormorant gives a catfish a happy ride.

Ok, so not all manatee watches are happy, but still, I think it was Mrs Garrett who said "You take the good, you take the bad..." But you can't take anything at all if you don't GOYB and go outside! Join us for a hike or a manatee watch soon.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cocoa Christmas Bird Count

We had a great time on the Cocoa CBC. My team consists of me, David and Kim. If you didn't GOYB and join us, you missed a ton of cool stuff, including:

 Another glorious dawn in Florida. We started off the day on Providence road on Lake Poinsett.
A Mockingbird posing nice.
Two Limpkin at the District 4 headquarters.
A Muscovy duck. I know a lot of people don't like them because they are an exotic, but they are an interesting looking bird.
3 Sandhill Cranes performing some personal maintenance. I always feel a little like a peeping tom when I take pictures like this.
Two Mockingbirds, probably boy friend and girlfriend.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker. This would have been a perfect shot except for the stupid telephone wire. Oops.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker moved over to a telephone pole for a better shot.
This was a cute lawn display along our route.
This isn't a great shot, but it's the best Red-tailed Hawk shot I've ever gotten.
I took this picture for all of the people who scoff and ask how hard can it be to count a few stupid birds!
The dump is part of our route. It seemed a little strange this year. It seemed to me that there were more Ibises and Vultures than in past years. Kim dubbed this "Ibis Hill".
A Laughing Gull in flight.
This is a Herring Gull in flight. They are one of the largest gulls in Florida, but the perspective of this picture is weird, he looks kind of short and stubby here.
This pictures shows 3 Mottled/Mallard hybrid ducks. How can we tell they are hybrids you ask? Here's how:

First, all three birds show a little white in the tail feathers. If they were completely mallard, the tail feathers would be all white, and if they were completely mottled, the tail feathers would be brown like the rest of the  body.

On the left and right, we have two male birds. Notice that there is a little curl in the central tail feathers, which is a mallard characteristic. On the one on the left, notice the black spot at the base of the bill, which is a mottled duck characteristic.

In the center, is a female bird.  Notice the partial black saddle on the bill, which is a mallard trait, but also notice the back spot at base of bill, which is a mottled duck characteristic.

We saw a tree with about 5 of these boxes, but we could not tell what they are for. From a distance, they looked like bat boxes, but the don't have they slats at the bottom, and they were stacked up in the tree, which didn't seem like appropriate placement for bat boxes. They I thought maybe bee or butterfly boxes, but I Googled those, and did not see anything that looked like these. Please reply in the comments if you know what these are.
My favorite sighting of the day - a Bushy Bearded Birding Man.
I call this one, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.. wait I missed one...  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...(and so on and on and on)..."
A really interesting Red-bellied Woodpecker. Notice how much red there is in its face, it comes all the way down to the beak and cheeks.  Notice also all the pink on its tummy. Kind of unusual to see so much color on these guys.
Brown Pelicans. This is another picture that tells a story. They are practicing for a synchronized flying competition, but dang it, Polly Pelican never gets this part right. Wings UP you dang fool!
My first ever fairly decent picture of a Scaup. The long lens sure helps with these guys.
A Royal Tern having a bad hair day.
A Ring-billed Gull in flight.
I call this picture of a Red-shouldered Hawk, "Did I Mention How Much I Really Freaking Love My New Camera?"
Sand Hill Crane.
Brown-headed Cowbirds at Doug and Mary's house in Cocoa.
These are just Mourning Doves, but I love the lighting, the sun was setting, giving them this warm glow. I didn't edit this picture at all.
The kitchen crew, without whom we would have no dinner! Bill, Pat, Judith, and Kay.
The birders hard at work compiling their data.
The birders hard at work compiling their data.  
The birders hard at work compiling their data.  
David, getting annoyed by his wife.

As always it was a great count. We still have one count to do, the South Brevard CBC on January 3. I am the compiler for that one, so contact me directly if you want to come out and join us. That count covers the St. Sebastian Preserve State Park, it will be a blast. Remember, you can try to count the birds on this web site, but where's the challenge in that? You need to GOYB and join us to really experience a bird count!