Posts Tagged With: yellow-rumped warbler

Jump-Starting The Day

Modern automobiles are fairly reliable things. A little regular maintenance and they perform well and seldom give us pause for concern. It was not always thus. Once upon a time, we didn’t dare leave the driveway without a few basic tools, a can of oil and jumper cables.

That sickening “click-click-click” when you turn the ignition key makes you close your eyes and turn it again, knowing full well you will hear the same sound. You open the hood, twist the cables to be sure they’re tight and gaze around for a minute pretending you know what you’re doing. With older batteries, you would check for water in the cells. In the end, you find a healthy vehicle or call road service, hook up the cables and smile when the engine roars to life!

Our days can be like that. We get busy with work, family, chores, bills – we run down. Late in the day we find ourselves sighing heavily and looking out the window. We seem to be ready to go to bed earlier than normal. Morning arrives sooner than we hoped. Getting out of bed takes effort. The coffee has no taste and the caffeine does nothing to provide a boost.

We need a jump-start!

Setting foot on the trail as the sky begins to lighten about a half-hour before dawn and taking in one long, deep breath – that will do it. Add the trumpeting of a pair of Sandhill Cranes overhead, the chattering of a coot, a distant Barred Owl call answered by another, a light fog hugging the surface of the lake. The serene atmosphere is abruptly disturbed as the eerie screeching of Limpkins signals it’s time for all creatures to be awake!

I am one of the luckiest of mortal men as one glance at Gini each morning provides all the jump starting I could ever handle. When we combine our mutual electricity with Nature’s, it is an awesome experience!

A few days before Christmas, a wander around Tenoroc Fish Management Area helped jump-start a fabulous day. Some images from the morning follow.

 

An Anhinga silhouetted against the pre-dawn sky prepares for a day of fishing.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

Heard long before they were seen, a pair of Sandhill Cranes loudly announced they were heading to the day’s feeding grounds.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

As the sun dries the night’s dew, a Yellow-rumped Warbler is ready as insects  begin to emerge from their night-time hiding places.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

New fencing has recently been erected (and looks really dangerous!) and a Loggerhead Shrike can’t wait to impale his breakfast bugs on some of those shiny new barbs!

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

Central Florida in late December means we get to enjoy some insects not active in cooler climates. An early morning Barred Yellow (Eurema daira) visits a Beggarticks (Bidens alba) for a bit of nectar.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

Keeping an eye on me from within the brush a Gray Catbird constantly “mewed” to let others know I was in the area. Tattletail.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

A Limpkin hung onto a grass stem by the lake side as it scanned for an Apple Snail.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

The shimmering iridescent plumage of a Glossy Ibis was a pleasant sight as the sun began its climb from the horizon.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

My normal view of the migratory Sharp-shinned Hawk is a brown streak as it zips past at supersonic speed chasing a songbird. This one circled overhead for almost 15 seconds before disappearing into a nearby wooded area.

Tenoroc FMA, Bridgewater

 

Sufficiently jump-started, I was reminded of the only downside to beginning a day in Nature like this. It is addictive. I still highly recommend it for anyone feeling the need for recharging. Wait! I highly recommend it for everyone!

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Scouting For The Count

“I’ll be happy to help you do some scouting”, said Gini The Naive.

This year will mark the 118th year of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. (Yes, as a matter of fact I WAS at the first count over a hundred years ago. Smart alecks.) At that time, a genius birder (okay, that’s redundant) had a novel idea. “Hey, how about we just COUNT the birds instead of seeing who can shoot the most?” A movement and a tradition were born. The data from each year’s count is compiled by Cornell University in New York and makes available a treasure trove of research material for scientists as they attempt to understand the status of our avian friends.

In order to help our team operate as efficiently as possible on the actual count day, I spent the prior week searching out known bird haunts and seeking new ones. Knowing which birds are present helps us concentrate on locating less common species. Part of this process involves listening for owls. They call when it’s dark outside. Therefore, we must be outdoors in potential owl habitat when it’s dark outside. Sunrise is about 7:00. The sky begins to lighten about 6:00. Yep, Gini The Naive deduced we needed to set the alarm clock really early! No complaints from her. Not even a whimper. That’s a good thing. She’s the one with the keen hearing.

After all was said and done, we had a very good official count day of birding and tallied a few more species than last year. The weather was great with a cool morning, warm day and gentle breeze. For me, highlights of this year’s efforts include:  a single Bufflehead (not common in our area), a flock of 18 Wild Turkey (unusual in our dense suburban environment), a relatively high number of Blue-headed Vireo and an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk (a winter visitor in small numbers).

Gini The Naive was, as expected, simply fantastic during scouting week as I took her to all the great birding locales:  the aforementioned pre-dawn owling forays, a cemetery, muddy marshes, dusty dirt roads and the ever-popular city dump. Once again, she proved she is, and shall ever be, Gini My Beloved!

Since you asked, I did take a couple of snapshots.

 

As the morning fog began to lift from the marsh it revealed one of the local fishermen already on the job. The Great Blue Heron paid no attention to my clumsy efforts.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetland

 

A pair of Anhinga patiently wait for a bit of sunshine before they begin diving in the chilly water.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

Another hunter of the wetlands, a Great Egret, has his eye on a frog and doesn’t acknowledge my presence.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

Morning commute. A River Otter pushed up a wake under his chin as he headed for his office across the lake.

Banana Lake Park

 

I wasn’t sure if this Osprey was curious, territorial or ticked off.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

After watching a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker chase a Red-bellied Woodpecker around a clearing and in and out of the trees, the pair landed briefly on an oak before taking off on their game of tag again.

Crooked Lake WEA

 

A dapper looking Black-and-White Warbler probes a hole in a branch for breakfast.

Crooked Lake WEA

 

Golden Silk Orb Weavers craft very strong webs across paths to catch all manner of prey during the night – and occasional birders during the day who are constantly looking up instead of where they’re going!

Crooked Lake WEA

 

I don’t know if the feathers under the talons of this Red-shouldered Hawk are from preening or left over from a morning snack.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

This year I seem to have found more Blue-headed Vireos than in the past. That’s okay with me!

Crooked Lake WEA

 

Pine Warblers can vary from very drab to very bright. This is one of the brighter variety and I chased after him quite awhile before he sat still for a picture.

Crooked Lake WEA

 

Another bright yellow fellow, this Yellow-throated Warbler has found a hairy white caterpillar for brunch. Yum!

Crooked Lake WEA

 

North America’s smallest falcon, the American Kestrel, is quite colorful. I was lucky to find one that remained on a perch while I was less than a mile away.

Lake Streety Road

 

There I was, head up searching for warblers in the tree-tops, when I had the feeling I was being watched. One picture and this White-tailed buck sprang across the path in one leap and disappeared into the forest.

Gator Creek Reserve

 

A cold morning and a fluffed up Yellow-rumped Warbler. We don’t often get to see the bit of yellow in their crown.

Mount Olive Primitive Cemetery

 

Speaking of beautiful. The majestic Turkey Vulture. The other birds are beside themselves with envy.

Mount Olive Primitive Cemetery

 

During the winter, a few sparrows hang around and challenge us to identify them. Head pattern, diffuse streaks on the breast and a nice rufous wing patch tell us this is a Swamp Sparrow.Banana Lake Park

 

Soft mud is a magnet for shorebirds. This Killdeer characteristically ran a few steps, probed the mud, ran a few steps, probed. Fun to watch!Bartow Medical Center

 

A small stream in the middle of a pasture is not where I expected to spot a Bufflehead!

Rolling Woods Lane

 

The back of an Eastern Meadowlark blends perfectly with the dried grasses where they live. That bright yellow front and loud, clear song, however, make it impossible for it to hide!Rolling Woods Lane

 

One of those little brown birds again. This Savannah Sparrow walked (quickly) from one clump of grass to another in a field before I caught him in the open long enough for a photograph.

Rolling Woods Lane

 

Reaching for the latch to a corral gate, I spotted a Monarch Butterfly chrysalis. Every bit as beautiful as its contents.

Rolling Woods Lane

 

Winter migration brings us an influx of Eastern Phoebes.  These small flycatchers stay busy all day sallying forth from an exposed perch to capture any insect foolish enough to be out in the open.

Lake Hancock Tract

 

Not to be outdone by his Blue-headed cousin, this White-eyed Vireo sang and posed for several minutes.

Banana Lake Park

 

This is the closest I’ve been to a Sharp-shinned Hawk. They only visit during the winter and I normally see them as a brown blur as they speed after a little songbird in the woods.

Lake Hancock Tract

 

 

This year’s Christmas Bird Count was a success for our entire 50+ person effort, my own 5 member team and was immeasurably enhanced by the participation of the one and only Gini My Beloved. She and I wish each and every one of you the best Holiday Season ever!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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