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!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Apopka Christmas Bird Count

I joined David on the Zellwood CBC which covers the Lake Apopka Restoration Area. You might remember the Lake Apopka Restoration area as home to the Great Owl Box project.  I have gone back a few times over the years to see how things are progressing out there, but this is the first CBC I've done there in a long time. If you didn't GOYB and join us, here's what you missed:

I have titled this picture "Why I Moved to Florida".
The Ibises are starting to move off their roost.
I wasn't trying intentionally for a silhouette here, but thought it was interesting how it shows 2 Black Vultures in totally different positions in flight.
This is an immature Black-crowned Night Heron.
An Osprey carrying his breakfast, a Gar.
A Green Heron looking all dramatic and pretty.
A Red-shouldered Hawk posing for me.
A Yellow-rump Warbler saying hi and posing nicely.
This is a cool picture that show male and female Red-wing Blackbirds. I don't often see them together, which makes it difficult to identify the girls as they look nothing like the boys. Tip: Compare the beak, eyes and feet - they are identical - don't get thrown off by the fact that the feathers look so different.
Another Yellow-rump Warbler saying hi and posing nicely.
A Phoebe being all dramatic and showy for me.
I like to call this one, "Why So Serious"? Eagles really just don't seem like they would laugh at my jokes.
Still one of my favorite birds, the Turkey Vulture. I just love their face.
Osprey and Vulture. This isn't a perfect picture, the color is off, but there was something I liked about it. I think it would make a nice painting or drawing. Someday.
I liked how this Turkey Vulture looked like she was trying to be demure, kind of hiding behind the branch.
This was unexpected. A parachuter!
This was cool - David and a Northern Harrier.
Great Egret. I like the color in this one.
Ibis in silhouette.
I call this one "Why I Totally Love The New Camera" aka, Barred Owl taking a nap in a tree. Best owl shot I've ever gotten in the wild.
I felt bad for this Little Blue Heron. He had some kind of sticky smutz on his beak. He kept trying to wipe it off on his feathers, but his feathers just kept sticking to the smutz.
I felt kind of bad - I took a bunch of pictures, then he looked at me and said, "Hey, little privacy? I'm having a personal issue here." I apologized and left.

We had a great time. If you get the chance to get out there, Lake Apopka is a marvelous place for birding and hiking. Hope you join us on a walk soon!