Posts Tagged With: american redstart

Not So Far Afield

You would think that I’d learn. “Tomorrow will start clear and dry and a few clouds may roll in during the afternoon.” Weather reporters. Sigh.

Fifty yards down the path, my face felt a few drops of what my Dad would have called “heavy dew”. Rain. Keep going? Turn back? I tucked the camera body under my shirt tail and put the lens covers over the binoculars. A Gray Catbird “mewed” sarcastically from a tangle of willows. Two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers crisscrossed the trail in front of me, daring me to whip out the camera and try to catch them between raindrops. Nature can be so cruel.

Around a bend, there was an opening through which I could see a lovely lake, wetlands extending for some distance and several large dead trees. Among the branches of the tallest snag was an Osprey nest and atop the highest limb perched an Osprey, surveying his wet kingdom. I was so enthralled with the view I had not noticed the rain had stopped.

This trail was new to me and I explored about a mile and a half before heading back to the car. Lakes on one side, old-growth hardwood forest on the other. “Birdy.”

We have written about this location before and doubtless will again. Tenoroc Public Use Area. I’m not sure when it changed, but it used to be known as Tenoroc Fish Management Area. Tenoroc is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Over 7,000 acres of fishing lakes, hiking/equestrian trails, a shooting range and special recreation areas for children and people with physical limitations. It is a “gateway” site for The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

Did I mention it’s only ten minutes from the house?

By the time I returned to the car, I was almost dry and Gini was several chapters farther along in her book. Granola bars and fresh slices of orange fortified us for more exploring.

There was no more rain and the clouds eventually parted to reveal a deep blue sky and plenty of sunshine. We discovered amazing sights, sounds and supreme satisfaction!

(NOTE: These images are from two different visits, the second and third weeks of October 2019.)

 

An Osprey above an old nest. In Florida, nesting season for the Osprey begins in December and old nests are renovated and reused over and over. (Sadly, this particular nest was destroyed by a violent windstorm after our first visit.) This image provides an idea of habitat typical for the area. If you are able to enlarge the photo, you may spot a Belted Kingfisher near the bottom of the frame just left of center.

Tenoroc FMA

 

A House Wren dared me to take his picture in the rain. These “little brown jobs” only visit us during migration.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Another fall/winter visitor is the Eastern Phoebe. We heard them calling everywhere we stopped. This one kept her eye on a grasshopper which she eventually grabbed and flew out of sight to enjoy.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Little Blue Herons in good light show a subtle diversity of color in their plumage. Yes, this fellow loudly let me know I was disturbing his breakfast hunt.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Fall migration is in full swing and there were plenty of colorful feathered things scampering high in the treetops. I managed to get a shot directly above me of a busy Magnolia Warbler. One would think bright yellow would really stand out in the middle of a tree. One would be mistaken.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Black and orange, on the other hand, are hard to miss. A male American Redstart stopped and stared for 1/500th of a second. Click. Thank you, sir!

Tenoroc FMA

 

There’s that bright yellow again. This time mixed with black stripes which help this Prairie Warbler blend into a bush as he fought the urge to flee. He flew.

Tenoroc FMA

 

One of the benefits of our sub-tropical environment is we get to enjoy dragonflies later in the year than those living in cooler climates. A Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) can brighten up the dreariest day.

Tenoroc FMA

 

A new species for us! A huge dragon flew in front of the car and I about put Gini through the windshield (again) trying to stop, grab the camera and open the door all at the same time. The very courteous specimen grabbed a nearby branch and posed for several candid shots. Our newest find:  Royal River Cruiser (Macromia taeniolata)!

Tenoroc FMA

Tenoroc FMA

 

Stocky members of the heron family, American Bitterns are another of our fall/winter visitors. Their brown striped plumage allows them to remain motionless among reeds and escape detection. They are fairly uncommon in our county.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Spaniards exploring Florida over 500 years ago brought pigs with them for food. They left a few behind. We now have a feral pig problem. They proliferate faster than they can be hunted or trapped. As with most species, the babies can be pretty cute.

Tenoroc FMA

 

A beautiful Snowy Egret patiently waits for a frog to move. Yum.

Tenoroc FMA

 

Mrs. Belted Kingfisher has spied breakfast!

Tenoroc FMA

 

Mrs. Belted Kingfisher proudly displays her catch!

Tenoroc FMA

 

Mrs. Belted Kingfisher laughs loudly at Mr. Belted Kingfisher who has not had any breakfast!

Tenoroc FMA

 

Mr. Belted Kingfisher knows better than to say anything at all!

Tenoroc FMA

 

We are very thankful (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to the government forces which partnered with commercial interests and private citizens over half a century ago to create a real treasure for all citizens to enjoy. Hopefully, such success stories will motivate more people in all walks of life to encourage similar projects throughout the country (and beyond).

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

 

Additional Information

Tenoroc Public Use Area

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Patching Things Up

“The greater effort you expend the more rewarding will be your results.” I’m sure they didn’t use those words, but our parents made certain we understood the concept. Their parents drilled it into them that hard work would provide what they need to survive. Thanks to my genius in marrying well, Gini was successful in raising our two children with those same values. We are infinitely proud to see those traits being passed along to grandchildren.

Birders exhibit similar behavior. If we drive for hours, hack through the bush with our machete, tip-toe across the swamp on the snouts of alligators, fight off hordes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and arrive in a clearing just as the sun is about to peek above the horizon – well, naturally we will be amply compensated for all that effort by having the best day ever of birding, replete with a diverse number of rarities never before observed by mortal bird-watchers!

You get the idea.

In all our fervor to explore distant venues and chase those elusive “lifers”, it’s easy to forget about what’s close to home. Our “Patch”. Sure, it may not produce some exotic sighting or allow one to tick off a hundred species in half an hour, but it’s just ten minutes away. No machete needed.

I arrived at Lake Parker Park just as the sun was about to peek above the horizon (that sounds familiar) and the moon was sinking in the western sky. I’ve developed a loosely defined pattern over the years in which I check the reeds near the boat ramp first for Least Bitterns, hike north along the shoreline, follow a canal westward, check the big oak trees in the open park area, peek into the shallow pond by the soccer fields, scan the soccer fields for ground-feeders, check the tall light supports for raptors, probe a row of mulberry trees and then back to the parking lot. A couple of miles, a couple of hours.

Sometimes, as with birding anywhere, there are surprises. Always, there is satisfaction.

 

I was glad a hand-held shot with the 600mm lens produced a passable image of a not-quite-full moon as it neared the horizon.

Lake Parker Park

 

As fall migration ramps up, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher forms into groups, sometimes with other species, and it is common to see several in one trip. (Today’s total was 28.)

Lake Parker Park

 

Like an old friend returning home, the tail-pumping Palm Warbler began arriving in small numbers last week. Soon, they will be everywhere and birders will be exclaiming: “Uhh, just another Palm!” Although easily dismissed due to their profusion and relatively plain appearance, they are among my favorite birds.

Lake Parker Park

 

An Anhinga dries its wings before another plunge into the lake for more breakfast.

Lake Parker Park

 

Similar to the Palm Warbler, the Eastern Phoebe (also a tail-pumper) is returning to the area and is a welcome sight. Many of these small flycatchers will remain here all winter while most of their relatives will continue on to South America.

Lake Parker Park

 

A year-round resident, the Red-shouldered Hawk is our most abundant raptor. This one was very upset that I passed under HER tree. She circled me three times yelling the whole time before returning to the same branch once I had moved along.

Lake Parker Park

 

Like soldiers on a mission, a group of White Ibis marched across the park lawn constantly probing the soft ground.

Lake Parker Park

 

Male American Redstarts are hard to miss with their inky black feathers highlighted with bright orange. The female is more subdued in her gray cloak with tasteful yellow markings.

Lake Parker Park

Lake Parker Park

 

Whoa! Something different! This was only the third time I’ve seen a Black-throated Blue Warbler. A handsome male who finally remained still long enough for a snapshot.

Lake Parker Park

 

In past years, it has been uncommon to see very many Magnolia Warblers. This season, quite a few have been reported around the county. I was happy to catch a glimpse of this colorful migrant.

Lake Parker Park

 

Although not uncommon, it is always a treat to see the colorful male Northern Parula. As winter progresses, they will disappear until spring.

Lake Parker Park

 

A nice walk, a beautiful morning, lots of bird activity, fresh migrants, old friends. All only ten minutes from the front door. As you plan your next birding adventure up the peak of Mt. Fuji, don’t forget your local patch!

 

We hope  you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: