The surprise was being photo-bombed by the Canada Goose on the right of the group photo. Here's a close -up. We tallied 38 species for sure, but Merlin picked up Painted Bunting, and several others we could not verify.
The eBird list is here at this link. .
Photos by Fred Hileman
Recap - Ocala Wetlands
The best bird surprise was to see 2 Black backed Stilts in a retention pond next to the park along with a Lesser Yellowlegs. This was a great distance from our vantage point, but the photo is rather odd. It seems as if the Stilt is drowning the Yellowlegs.
There were three raptors. An American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk were seen. Great-crested Flycatcher, Parula, Pine & Palm Warbler, many Red-headed Woodpeckers as well as Red-bellied, Downy, & Pileated were seen through-out the trek.
March 9th, 2023
Tim and I travelled down on Wednesday and checked out Lake Mirror and Lake Morten. The Mute swans were very pretty.
Recap - Emeralda Dual Trips
The morning of February 10th was warm and breezy. 23 bird folks gathered at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive for a day of fun. Missing from the group photo are Mike and Effie Smith, Virginia Hall, Julie Appleget, Eileen Riccio, Jim Meyer, Will and Kathy Carter, Bonnie Schirmers and Jan Doudna.
A female Painted Bunting, Swamp Sparrow, Common Yellow Throat showed up at the entrance along with loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Northern Harriers flew over the marshes in several locations along the way.
Northern Flicker and Grey Headed Swamphen were two more sightings .
The exciting find were the Black-necked Stilts that were at a good distance away, but Jim Meyer got a decent photo. There seemed to be an abundance of Black-crowned Night Herons.
Just a few weeks ago, there was an abundance of Fulvous Whistling Ducks. This day provided a sighting of two. It was the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks that amazed us. There had to be well over 3oo hundred lining the banks of the canal on our way out of the drive.
Overall, there seemed to be fewer birds still in residence than when we were there last year. Not that it wasn’t active enough. It was. We tallied 52 species.
Blog by Rey Wells & Fred Hileman. Photos by Rey Wells, Jim Meyer and Fred Hileman
Recap - Merritt Island
After a great dinner at Dixie-Crossroads and night’s sleep, we met at Parrish Park in Titusville. We had some bad news when one of our group heard that Black Point Dr. was closed! We decided to check at the Visitor’s Center but first we drove W. Gator Rd. and picked up A. Avocets, a cooperative Reddish Egret flew in and gave us a good view, and one White Pelican, along with many waders. It was good to see our friend, Reesa Fassett, who has moved away, but was with her local chapter.
We then headed to the Canaveral National Seashore but saw hardly any ducks along the way to the beach! At the beach,
Ken Spilios saw a M. Frigatebird flying high above us and we also got a few gulls and a Ruddy Turnstone, but no Gannets this time. Upon leaving, Eileen broke out the cookies and chocolate brownies which were gobbled up! When we got near the entrance, we pulled over after seeing several FL Scrub Jays and ended up spotting six or more!
One more stop on CNS, so we drove down Bio-lab Rd. until we got to the Birds! What a collection in one end of a wetland-many White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, a few White and Glossy Ibis, a Great Egret and a Wood Stork!
We then drove to the Pumphouse Rd. and on the way we saw an A. Kestrel and Belted Kingfisher on the wires. Then, walking into the Pumphouse Rd., the ducks appeared on both sides by the 100s! We Immediately saw the Redheads and Canvasbacks, with many Blue-winged Teals, Scaup species, and A. Wigeons, with some Ring-necks, N. Shovelers, and Mottled Ducks. I didn’t mentioned A. Coots and C. Gallinules but they were well represented just about in ever body of water we saw! We then walked to the large lagoons, the East one was full of birds along the North eastern corner but the only species I could make out was Black Skimmers.
Photos courtesy of Fred Hileman, Jim Meyer. Article by Jim Meyer & Eileen Riccio.
Black Point was scheduled to reopen on Friday. Four of our group decided to stay in order to ride the bus through Black Point. The trip lasted about 2 hours. We had good views of 6 Wilson's Snipes at the entrance plus many other species along the way. For the two days, we spotted a combined 83 species. 51 from OW and 62 Merritt.
Thank you Jim & Eileen for another memorable trip.
Recap - Orlando Wetlands
Enough Citrus Audubon members and friends showed up at Orlando Wetlands on January 25th, 1:00 PM to fill two trams. The trams were electric and were operated by volunteers of the Friends of Orlando Wetlands Park. It was warm and breezy as we set out on a multi-mile birding tour of the wetland. Here is one of the trams. It hosted Fred Hileman, Bob Ross, and others. Longtime friend of ours and the guide, Eileen Riccio, is looking for birds from the shotgun seat.
Eileen’s partner, Jim Meyer, was the guide on the lead tram that hosted eight bird folks, including this writer. Just after the first turn off the “main road”, we got a great close-up view of this Purple Gallinule. It’s moving and flapping its wings because it was just accosted by a Common Gallinule that might have been a male with a female close by.
We turned around at the beginning of the new boardwalk. On the way back toward the “main road” we came upon this Anhinga that had caught a large pan fish and was finally about to swallow it.
Toward the end of our tour, we spotted this Great Blue Heron with what Bob Ross identified as a Two-toed Amphiuma. It was a lifer for most of us. It is said to be the largest salamander in North America. Much to our surprise, the heron made quick work of the large amphibian.
The below entry was offered by Jim Meyer.
We managed to see Black-crowned Night Herons, many BB Whistling Ducks (~500 in the Park), many Purple Gallinule, Limpkins, Sandhill Cranes, E. Bluebird, several duck species, and heard the Barred Owl.
Four other neat bird sights were observed when we saw a B. Eagle in its nest, a Merlin Falcon high in a snag, a N. Pintail hiding in a group of Blue-winged Teals
Photos, courtesy of Fred Hileman, Rey Wells, Jim Meyer.
Recap - St Marks
Day one at St Marks. We were unable to take the trail and boardwalk at the back of the Visitor's Center. The bridges over the streams and a large part of the boardwalk was impassable due to deterioration. I guess the money for repairs has not been allocated. It's a sad situation. The other problem here was the paving of the road into the Lighthouse. There was only one lane open for a major portion of the road into the Lighthouse. This prevented stopping along the way at strategic areas.
Our next destination was back to Lighthouse Road. We again stopped in anticipation of finding the Golden Plover, but we had no luck either going in nor out. We opted to traverse the one-way out to the Lighthouse to check out the duck situation. Again, there was no disappointment. In fact there were several surprises, The Pintail gave us a treat which was spotted by Pam Larsen. There were American Widgeons, Ring-Neck, Canvasbacks, Shovelers, Teal, Bufflehead, & Ruddy. The prize was a Long-tailed Duck that was at a great distance out. Unfortunately, no photo.
And not least, the resident Flamingo gave us great close up photo-ops. It amazes me that this beautiful creature has remained here for many years. The first years necessitated a long hike and then it would be at the far edge of the open water and would merely be a pink blur. This time it was close several times. Even with the obstacles along the way, we were able to tally 80 species.
Credits for the photos: Bob Ross, Fred Hileman, & Carol Yarnell. I know others took some great photos also, but this is what I had to work with at this time.
Recap - Sweetwater/La Chua Trail
It was a perfect morning at Wallace Brooks Park in Inverness. Seven of us gathered there and had an enjoyable time birding north along the Withlacoochee State Trail.
After making our way along the adjacent lakeside boardwalk, we arrived at Liberty Park where Fred Hileman took a group photo. The junction of the bike trail and North Apopka Ave. was active. A female Pileated Woodpecker worked a wooden telephone pole for insects. Bluebirds were on the wires. Yellow-rumped Warblers were just north of the crossing.
We stopped along the lake edge to observe a 10" baby alligator cross in front of us. Our first question was, where is mamma? After getting the photo op, we hurriedly left the area in case mamma was nearby.
About 30 yards before the first green bench on the left, an opening in the brush on the left led to a lake overlook. There was a short tree sticking out of the water. A Great Blue Heron nest was clearly visible with binoculars. A pair reared two young there last January and February. Although no adults were there when we were, they are known to visit that nest daily. January 1st or so may well find a female sitting on eggs.
Farther along the trail two of our group were checking an area of the lake for movement when just beside them the Great Egret appeared and seemed to say, "Can you see me now?" They seem to be totally unaware of the egret's presence.
The 150 yards from the bench to the bridge was alive with birds. Ruby-
crowned Kinglets hovered like hummingbirds looking for insects on
outer edges of bushes. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers mewed and gave us good
looks. A Black and White Warbler was seen by most as it worked its
way along a tree branch. A kingfisher rattled as it flew across the trail.
After returning to our cars, we drove a short distance to Cooter Pond. The boardwalk there yielded three more species. They were Black Vulture, White Ibis, and Snowy Egret. We learned there that Snowiness sometimes spew poo while flying. One does not know if or when this
newly discovered fact might become useful all of a sudden…….
In all, 45 species were identified
.Photos Courtesy of Fred Hileman & Bob Ross.
Blog by Rey Wells.
Recap - Carney Island Field Trip
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."
Field trips are like a box of chocolates, we never know what we are going to get. The Carney Island field trip started out with blustery weather and hopes for better weather looked bleak. Looking out over Little Lake Weir did not show us any birds on or over the water. The shoreline was not much better.
We did have a number of birds in the trees surrounding the parking lot. Gnatcatchers, Chickadees, Phoebes, and a few warblers were seen. Mostly Yellow-rumped warblers in the trees and Palm warblers on the ground.
The skies turned darker as we drove over to the boat ramp area. It turned out that Hurricanes Ian and Nicole had done extensive damage to the pier and boat ramp. We were not able to walk out on the pier and the skies over the lake showed a line of dark clouds coming our way. The winds hit about that time, too, and Fred and Tim had enough. They did see a flock of Turkeys on the way out of the park, though.
We remaining six headed over to the trail to be out of the wind. The rains never did come. A few more Yellow-rumped warblers, Kinglet sand Chickadees came out to see what we were up to, and the group did get to see a nice Prairie Warbler in the trees near the picnic area. The trail was not any better for birds and after a half mile Rey said enough and headed back. He did get a few more bird on the way back. The rest of us hiked on. The good news is persistence pays off. The weather cleared, the winds died, and we started to see birds. A Bald Eagle flew over us and a Kestrel flew to a nearby treetop.
We hiked to the end of the point and headed back and after 3.5 miles the group was claiming it felt like a military forced march but what a beautiful march it was. The day turned out lovely and we did tally 27 species. Don’t ever be afraid of what is in the box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get.