Posts Tagged With: colt creek state park

Patch Work

There is an old line familiar to anyone who has served in the military about how you are taught to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” but master of none. My local birding locations are like that. Most who take up birding seriously have a “patch”, a place with which they are (or become) familiar and visit on a regular basis. Thus, they learn the species which are likely to be found in that area in any given season, become accustomed to the terrain and environment and are quick to notice any changes in the local avian population.

We are blessed with an overabundance of patches. I pretend to know a lot about each nearby place that I visit frequently, but in reality I seem to encounter something new on every visit. So, in keeping with my military training, I have become an average birder who claims several patches but am an expert in none of them.

Last week, I made a short visit to one of those patches in the hope of finding some nesting activity. Mister birding expert located exactly zero nesting birds. Adding insult to injury, I came away with no photographs of a bird I would display in public.

It was, however, a very pleasant morning! Okay, it was extremely humid, but that goes with the territory at this time of year. I have a new lens I wanted to try so somewhere below is an “artsy” swamp image. Flowers are blooming, bugs are buzzing.

I came home birdless, but happy.

 

Patch: Colt Creek State Park

The morning sun was largely obscured within a dense hammock. The large cypress and bay trees allowed a reflection in a small pool. These swampy spots are peaceful, still places which I really enjoy exploring.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Last month, some fields were almost solid violet, white and green as the Purple Passionvine (Passiflora incarnata) responded to just the right amount of rain at just the right time. On this trip, there were still a few blooms around, to the delight of a large amount of pollinators.

Colt Creek State Park

 

A female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) uses a thistle bloom as an ambush platform.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Large eye-spots and its flight low to the ground help identify this butterfly as one of Florida’s most abundant, a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Similar in overall coloration to the Buckeye but a bit more orange, a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) is a more energetic flier and it’s hard to get one to hold still for a portrait.

Colt Creek State Park

 

In our area of central Florida, there are only three commonly seen white butterflies (family Pieridae). This Checkered White  (Pontia protodice) stopped its nervous flight for a moment and I managed one image.

Colt Creek State Park

 

A trip to any outdoor area can be pleasant. If you know the area well and find some of the local inhabitants that’s even better. When you know your patch so well you can complete your birding checklist from your favorite armchair – well, that’s a whole other level of expertise!

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

 

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Colt Creek State Park

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

Spring On The Wing

Where has Spring gone? Seems like we just started looking for spring migrants and “poof” the entire bird world is having babies! Perhaps it’s a feature of growing older. Someone hit the “fast forward” button and I can’t find it to turn the dang thing off.

The Beautiful Brown-Eyed Woman is obsessed with the season as well. “We simply MUST get going with the spring cleaning!” “Oh, look! A spring sale on linens!” “I love all the fresh produce we’re seeing this spring.”

Truth be told: She DOES put a spring into my step!

Colt Creek State Park. Twenty minutes from the house and some wonderfully diverse habitat. Entrance gates and parking lots. Probably the best birding spots on the planet. Today was no exception. Vireos and wrens sang from the underbrush, fish crows grunted overhead, curious catbirds popped onto a limb to give us the once-over and Holy Moley! It’s a Summer Tanager! Not necessarily rare but seldom seen.

A slow drive along the park roads yielded squeaky little nuthatches, woodpeckers, a gopher tortoise, clear-whistling titmice, deer calmly munching their grassy breakfast and a nice selection of migrants as well as resident birds.

The peaceful setting of the park’s primitive campground was a perfect spot for breakfast. From a nearby large oak tree came the ascending buzzy trill of Northern Parulas, recently arrived from their winter resort in South America. There! Just above the pine trees a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites, also returning from the tropics searching for a suitably tall tree to begin building a nest.

It seems as if Spring no sooner arrived than it’s time for high temperatures and daily thunderstorms to begin the wet season. Summer is not far away. More bird babies to locate!

Hope I finish my spring cleaning chores before the season is over.

 

At the park entrance, we were greeted by a bright red Summer Tanager.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Below the tree where the tanager was perched, a nervous Orange-crowned Warbler probed every twig and leaf for the protein-laden insects he’ll need to finish his northward migration.

Colt Creek State Park

 

This White-eyed Vireo looks like she had a rough night! A little preening and a sip of morning dew should soon set her right.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Songs of more returning breeding birds indicated the park was full of Red-eyed Vireos. We finally found one willing to pose for a moment.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Central Florida only has two species of sparrow which breed locally. The remainder, such as this Swamp Sparrow, will soon disappear until the fall.

Colt Creek State Park

 

One little bird we have an abundance of in summer is the diminutive and active Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Colt Creek State Park

 

In our area, three species of vireo breed: White-eyed, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated (pictured below with a caterpillar(?)).

Colt Creek State Park

 

A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches were heard before our eyes could locate them. Ever squeezed a child’s toy rubber duck? Then you know what these pugnacious little creatures sound like. They begin breeding as early as mid-February here so this couple may already have chicks, which would account for them coming so near us to see if we might be a threat.

Colt Creek State Park

 

The clear whistle of the Tufted Titmouse can be heard at quite a distance and they’re usually the first to challenge us as we enter their area. During migratory seasons, they are also good indicators that other species may be nearby as they seem to act as gang leaders (okay, maybe tour guides).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Buzzy trills abound and Gini counted over a dozen of these colorful warblers as we drove through the park. Northern Parulas seemed to be everywhere, and that is just fine with us.

Colt Creek State Park

 

The photograph may not be that great but the feeling sure is! I seldom get to see this migrant much less have a chance to take his picture. The Northern Waterthrush has the characteristic stripes of the thrush family but is actually a warbler. Along with its cousin, the Louisiana Waterthrush, it walks along marshy ground constantly bobbing its tail as it pulls tasty morsels from the mud.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Carolina Wrens were calling throughout the park as they prepare to mate and are quick to respond to any intruders (that would be us).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Spring. Annual renewal. Migrants. Flashes of color. Exuberant songs. A fabulous time to explore the outdoors!

Oh. And, as I have just been reminded, a time to clean. Sigh.

 

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

 

Additional Information

Colt Creek State Park

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

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