Posts Tagged With: american kestrel

The Kingbird Roost

“Feel like going for a ride?”

“I’ll get my shoes on. Where to?”

“Let’s check out the kingbird roost.”

Notice, Gini gets her shoes first. She has always been that way. Positive, optimistic, action-oriented. Worry about little details, like a destination, later.

Several years ago (10 according to records I could find), a group of Western Kingbirds along with a couple of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were noted roosting in a citrus grove not too far from here. They begin arriving around early December and stay until March. Like clockwork, they appear on utility lines bordering the grove 30-40 minutes before sunset. They chatter, hawk a few insects and one-by-one dive into the dense trees as dark settles in.

These two species are not commonly seen in central Florida, even during migration, so it’s a treat for those who may not have an opportunity to travel west of the Mississippi River where they are more prevalent. Two years ago, the group included an even more uncommon member, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher, a rare neo-tropical bird likely from South America.

Arriving a bit early allowed us to cruise the perimeter of the groves and we were rewarded with a nice selection of birds, very active near the end of the day. A trio of female Baltimore Orioles was a surprise and a half-dozen American Robins provided a splash of color and noise. A quick click through the car window was the only chance I had to catch an image of a low-flying Bald Eagle as she appeared over an orange tree.

We are concerned about this area. Florida has faced a devastating loss of citrus trees in recent years due to a disease which has been hard to tame. Many grove owners are turning to other, more reliable, crops. A large section of the groves used by these roosting flycatchers is being converted to huge covered greenhouses. We are not sure what the plans are for greenhouse production. Some good news was found in several plots of newly planted citrus trees. Hopefully, they will thrive and provide shelter for future generations of these beautiful winter visitors.

 

The rays of the setting sun highlight the lemon yellow undersides of a Western Kingbird.

Cox Road

 

Gray head, salmon-colored sides and – that tail! Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are a joy to behold.

Cox Road

 

An image of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher from two years ago. A few of these striking birds are seen in the southern United States each year although their home is in South America and southern Mexico. This one seemed to be among friends as he joined in the nightly routine prior to diving into an orange tree. (The strong rays of the setting sun gave his wings and tail an unnaturally colored glow.)

Cox Road Area

 

New fencing around a greenhouse complex provides a handy perch for a Palm Warbler as he scans the grass for the last meal of the day.

Cox Road

 

Just beyond the Palm Warbler above, a Red-shouldered Hawk uses a newly erected greenhouse support pole for his own lookout spot.

Cox Road

 

 

 

Around the edges of the citrus groves are lakes, open fields and old homesteads where long-ago plantings of shrubs, vines and hardwood trees grow wild. In one large tree were three female Baltimore Orioles searching the leaves for a juicy insect morsel.

Cox Road

Cox Road

 

A half-dozen American Robins swooped into the top of the oriole tree, chatted for awhile then noisily flapped off toward their own citrus tree roost for the night.

Cox Road

 

Another hardwood tree harbored two Red-bellied Woodpeckers. They had no time for visiting as the sun was getting low and they still needed to shop for supper.

Cox Road

 

Speaking of supper, an American Kestrel sure would like a grasshopper or lizard to show up in the field below. Where did these falcons perch before utility lines were invented?

Cox Road

 

We approached an intersection at the edge of the grove and a Bald Eagle came into sudden view over the orange trees. I went through my routine of trying to slam on the brakes, point the camera out the window, focus and shoot. Imagine my surprise to discover the image is almost adequate!

Cox Road

 

Our late afternoon spur-of-the-moment outing was delightful! Beautiful birds, spectacular sunset and I got to spend time with my best friend. Life. Is. Good.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Coast

A dictionary provides two different definitions of “coast”.

  1. Noun – the land near a shore : seashore
  2. Verb (intransitive) – to proceed easily without special application of effort or concern

Not too long ago, Gini and I visited the “land near a shore” where we were very careful to “proceed easily without special application of effort or concern” for a few days. Hard work, but SOMEONE has to do it!

As the philosopher/sailor/singer, Jimmy Buffet, sings:

“These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, Nothing remains quite the same. Through all of the islands and all of the highlands, If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”

I’m happy to report there was much laughter and we returned no more insane than when we departed.

The coast is a wonderful place for us. In our sub-tropical paradise, the salt water is warm and the currents gentle. Sand caresses your toes and there is always a fresh breeze to cool your brow. We attempted to overdose on boiled fresh shrimp but were unsuccessful. There were plenty of birds to see especially if you put forth the effort to visit a few different environments. But we constantly reminded each other of that pesky definition. To coast: “to proceed easily without special application of effort or concern”. We wouldn’t want to violate an actual definition.

Here’s some stuff we saw while we were coasting through the days at the coast.

Sunrise from the back porch of the houseboat.

Apalachicola

 

Ring-billed Gulls were abundant. And noisy.

Apalachicola

 

Across the marsh a prescribed burn in the nearby national forest produced what Gini called a “smoke monster”. Happily, it didn’t head our direction.

Apalachicola

 

A bright male Northern Cardinal provided a nice splash of color in the reeds of the marsh.

Apalachicola

 

Sunsets were somewhat spectacular. A Great Blue Heron headed home after a day’s fishing.

Apalachicola

 

On our second day, we drove into the national forest (past that burn area!) for a little exploration. Sunrise along the way caught our attention.

Apalachicola

 

In the heavily wooded forest, a Hermit Thrush was curious about us.

Apalachicola

 

A male American Kestrel was annoyed with us because he was tracking a small critter in the understory.

Apalachicola

 

Back on the houseboat, we watched a pair of Bald Eagles fish as the tide receded. The two mates, perched on that sign made me think of Gini and I. Like the eagles, we’re partners for life and like the sign says, we’re going through life at a slow pace trying not to create much fuss.

Apalachicola

 

The Laughing Gulls always sounded the alert when they saw us on the porch, hoping we had brought a helping of shrimp for them. Nope.

Apalachicola

 

Brown Pelicans are fun to watch as they soar and dive onto a school of fish, scooping them up with their net-like beaks.

Apalachicola

 

A final sunset from the porch. Heading home in the morning. Sigh.

Apalachicola

 

We coasted to the coast and back again. Can’t wait for an encore. If you don’t have a coast nearby, coast away somewhere special for a day or two. Laugh a lot so you don’t go insane.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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