Posts Tagged With: orchard oriole

Late Spring Roundup

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been slow to blog lately. To all of you who put a lot of time, effort and love into your blogs, I sincerely apologize for not visiting much. Now for the confession. I have no good excuses for my behavior. It just seems every time I think about putting together a post or reviewing all the wonderful sites on my list – Gini insists we go visit a new birding spot she heard about. What am I to do? I have learned over the m-a-n-y years we have been married that it is not in my best interest to contradict her wishes. So, gentle readers, you now know where to place blame for my seeming inattentiveness to blogdom. —->(Rushing to hide her laptop even as we speak. Shhh!)

So, there we were, approaching the local park once again. It’s so close to the house we overlook its potential all too often. Today, Lake Parker Park held a few surprises. The morning fog hung just at the water’s surface as the sun began to bathe the shoreline in that special light only visible at dawn. The eerie calls of Limpkins sounded all across the north side of the lake, which is a vast area of bulrush, cattail and lily pads. Most of the wading birds were still asleep in the tops of trees. Common and Purple Gallinules cackled and a large Caspian Tern materialized just above the fog, trying to peer down into the water for a morning morsel. A Great Blue Heron looked into the sun and just beyond him a Limpkin preened in the top of a small Cypress tree. As the animal world awakened, a few energetic humans arrived to walk, jog and bike the nicely laid out pathways around the lake shore. One nice lady saw the gear around my neck and asked if I had seen any Robins? “Not yet”, I replied, knowing full well the American Robins had left for their northern breeding grounds almost a month ago. As soon as I had uttered those words and had that thought, I spied an orange and black bird atop a large tree. A Robin???? Nope. Much better, for me at least. An Orchard Oriole! By all accounts, the first one seen in our county in over 20 years and only my second one ever. The short morning held another unexpected pleasure. I had been chasing Cedar Waxwings all season and not seen a single one. Then, there they were. A flock of two dozen in a Pine tree. Another dozen in a Mulberry tree. The day was complete! We headed to the house for a late breakfast of steaming Irish oats, fresh blueberries, pecans and cinnamon. Wish you were here.

Some images follow to illustrate why we do this as often as possible.

 

A Great Blue Heron greets the dawn as a Limpkin preens in the distance.

Great Blue Heron, Limpkin

Great Blue Heron, Limpkin

 

A very nice surprise was a male Orchard Oriole.  They are seen regularly during migration but typically much closer to the coast.

Orchard Oriole (Male)

Orchard Oriole (Male)

 

During the breeding season Great Egrets develop long plumes on their backs and their facial skin turns a pretty shade of green.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

 

Limpkins are adept at finding food in the water as well as on the land. They prefer Apple Snails, but will also readily eat amphibians and insects.

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

Fish Crows breed in this area and this one was collecting nesting material. I watched him visit three trees, gathering twigs and branches at each stop before flying out of sight to his nest location.

Fish Crow

Fish Crow

 

If it hadn’t been for those red eyes, I might have walked right by this almost hidden Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

 

A male Anhinga shows off his breeding plumage. These are sometimes called “Snake Birds” for their habit of swimming submerged except for just head and long thin “snakelike” neck above water. Their relatives in other parts of the world are called “Darters” and they certainly look like darts when flying.

Anhinga

Anhinga

 

Cedar Waxwings! Finally! In the Pines, eating mulberries, flying around with that high-pitched twitter. A really handsome bird.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Even the Common Gallinule looks uncommonly pretty today, floating atop a bed of green.

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule

 

A glorious morning punctuated by – what else – a Morning Glory.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

 

A Pileated Woodpecker probed this stump for breakfast but had the rising sun directly behind him making for a poor photograph. That’s okay. I enjoyed watching that large chisel of a beak rip under bark and pull out grubs. I didn’t even mind laying in wet leaves to take his portrait.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

The Mallard family performs a few stretches and enjoys the breakfast buffet.

Mallard

Mallard

 

This picture of an Osprey nest was taken through my spotting scope which isn’t exactly ideal for producing a quality photograph. The nest was atop a light pole at the park’s soccer field and was well beyond my normal camera lens’ range. You can see the orange eye of the Osprey chick on the left. Even at this distance, Mama was not happy I was hanging about. (I was gonna say something about Gini having that same glare, but now that I have given it due consideration, I shall refrain from such a comment.)

Osprey (Digiscoped)

Osprey (Digiscoped)

 

What a wonderful morning to be out. We were rewarded with some unexpected encounters, beautiful sights, fresh air and all before breakfast! If no further blogs are issued from this journal, you may assume my lovely spouse does not, after all, possess any sense of humor and has taken steps to ensure I will not disparage her character, albeit in jest, ever again.

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Spring At The Fort – Part One

It’s that time of year in Florida.  Our severe winter weather has abated and the air and water temperatures are emitting  their siren song attracting great throngs to the coasts to enjoy white sand beaches, emerald green seas and shady woods for siestas.  It’s the time of crowds pushing each other out of the way to gorge themselves on whatever they can find to eat, drinking their fill and fueling that age-old “urge to merge” which is overtaking their hormonal instincts.

Yes, it’s bird migration in full swing.

Huh?  What did you think I was talking about?

This will be a two-part series on our recent visit (April 15) to Fort De Soto in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We have written about exploring this area before.  (See the previous posts:   Fort De Soto – July and Sunrise, Surf, Storms.)  There will, undoubtedly, be future articles on this location.  It’s one of those places which can be overwhelming  for birders, photographers, tourists or just casual visitors.  Located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it boasts award-winning beaches, has one of the finest boat launching facilities in the area, woods to explore, outstanding fishing and sensational sunrises and sunsets.

This post will take you along our paths in the woods.  It’s quite a wonderful sensation to be surrounded by tall trees and dense undergrowth yet still be able to hear the pounding surf as the beach is only 50 yards away.  In the second part, we’ll stroll along the beach and see what we can find in the sand, water and sky.

Due to its location along a major migration route, unique position on the coast, mix of hardwood and pine woods and freshwater ponds, it is a major stopover spot for migratory birds in spring and fall.  We planned to spend the day searching for warblers in the woods.  I have no self-discipline.  If I get that close to saltwater, I will eventually wind up in the stuff.  I can’t help myself.  Warm, salty water is meant to wallow in and wade along pushing your toes in the soft sand and having crabs and rays scuttle out of your way and watching the mullet jump and……but I digress.  We wandered the beach and marsh areas as well as explored the woods.  We spent the whole day there – and loved every second!

A popular spot to locate our migrant friends is a wooded area adjacent to a beach.  There are a few mulberry trees and the park has placed a freshwater fountain here.  The trees were fruiting and the birds were eating.  It’s Florida, so the insect-loving crowd was also happy.  At times, this little area can contain hundreds of warblers and other birds in a single tree.  Today, we had to hunt a bit but were rewarded with some beautiful sights.  The adjacent picnic areas have scattered oak trees which are also quite productive.  It’s easy to get a case of “warbler neck” after bending your head back all day to scan the tops of trees.

Hope you enjoy our winged tourists returning from South and Central America.  They will soon be building nests further north, raising their young and returning to the woods and beaches of Florida this fall.

Male Hooded Warblers were fairly abundant today.  Most were busy looking for insects on the ground but I found this fellow up on a tree branch where a warbler belongs!

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler

The Gray-headed Catbird was well represented.  I counted seven in one tree.  This one can’t hide the fact that he has been enjoying mulberries for breakfast.  Those purple stains in his feathers will be a challenge to get clean.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Bright blue Indigo Buntings were in the trees and on the ground gorging on anything that resembled a seed.  They made for a very colorful and lively walk in the woods as they never seemed to hold still.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Speaking of bright, a Yellow-throated Warbler was quite curious about me standing under his tree.  That throat was like a beacon as he hopped up and down every branch sucking up insects as he went.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

The Northern Mockingbird may not be a migrant, but he sure knows where to find insects.  I was leaning  against a tree to rest in the shade when this one flew in to gather insects from a hedge of lantana.  He was about four feet away and was oblivious to my presence.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Prairie Warblers provided a yellow exclamation point to the trees and bushes.  Most of these birds are so intent on fueling up for their long flights that they almost don’t notice the human stalking them with a camera.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

As usual, I’m easily distracted.  Giant Swallowtail butterflies were quite busy feeding at the lantana.  These were as large as some of the birds we were chasing!

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

Sometimes, your wings just get tired of flapping and if you can find a nice paved sidewalk heading north, why not walk for awhile?  This Blue Grosbeak has the appearance of a bird who won’t put up with any nonsense.

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

The small Common Ground Dove is another non-migratory bird enjoying a day at the beach.  This species has been in decline throughout the southeast.  They have a distinctive cooing much different than the longer call of the Mourning Dove.

Common Ground Dove

Common Ground Dove

A lizard on a tree.

Lizard

Lizard

After watching a Nuthatch running down a tree trunk, the Black and White Warbler tried it, liked it, and is now seen upside down more often than not.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

I think this is a Mangrove Skipper but would appreciate anyone knowing differently letting me know.

Mangrove Skipper

Mangrove Skipper

White-eyed Vireos were numerous and hearing them sing is wonderful any time.  This one checked me out with a serious stare and then returned to the mulberry tree for more juice.

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

I watched three female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks methodically work through a mulberry tree gorging on every ripe fruit they found.  This one continually chased away any other bird daring to come near.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

One of those birds who kept coming near to the above Grosbeak, was this female Orchard Oriole.  She eventually found good eating at the top of the tree.

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

An Eastern Wood-Pewee found an oak tree he liked and continually swooped down to grab a bug.  We checked later in the day and he was still there.  Others said he’s been in that same tree for at least a week.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Well, technically, this is a warbler.  But he was not in the woods.  This Palm Warbler apparently saw the shorebirds feeding and thought he would check out the wrack line to see what was so good.  This offers a perfect segue into our next episode involving beachcombing.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

We hope you’ll return to enjoy the remainder of the day.  It will be more enjoyable if you’re bare-footed.

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

Additional Resources

Fort De Soto – Park Information

Linking to Stewart’s “Wild Bird Wednesday”.  See more birds from around the world at Paying ReadyAttention for

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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