11 bird folks arrived at 8:00 AM on the morning of January 8th at the entrance to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. A good deal of time was spent at the entrance because of a large number of species there that were unlikely to be found out in the wetland. In addition to many common ones, there was reported to be the Ash Throated Flycatcher, which still winters at that spot, and a recently spotted Least Flycatcher. Unfortunately, we could not find either. The most unusual bird spotted there was a Song Sparrow.
One highlight of the drive was coming across a Great Blue Heron that was struggling to down a large catfish it had caught. If finally did. Barely two minutes later, it resumed hunting and immediately caught a foot long largemouth bass. It wolfed down the bass. An amazing feat, especially considering that it was 10:30AM. Surely, this bird had also eaten a few critters before that.
Toward the end of the outing, Rey Wells was at the end of the caravan and got stopped by the sound of a commotion taking place in the canal below the right side of his car. He got out, peeked out from behind the car and witnessed two male Boat-tailed Grackles fighting in the water. The battle raged in the water for a full minute. It included beak locking, spearing, and kicking. As Rey was clicking away on slow burst, he came to realize that his exposure setting was way too low. So, he ducked back behind the car and quickly jacked up the exposure setting. He then shot the rest of the battle. One of the second set of photos is included here.
It was a shame that Ken Spilios’ camera became inoperative right at the beginning. So, he concentrated solely on leading and spotting. Here are the ducks spotted: Ringed-neck, Black-bellied Whistling, Fulvous Whistling, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mottled, and Ruddy. It was a great day for ducks!
In all, sixty-two bird species were identified. It was a great outing.
Rey Wells and Ken Spilios held the McKethan Lake field trip along with five others who ventured afield on a chilly morning (38 Degrees at start of day.) Lucille Lane from Hernando Audubon joined us. Ken took the lead on foot. Rey had a knee issue and manned the stationary watch, finding birds we missed while roaming. The forest trail gave us a Sapsucker and an adult Bald Eagle soaring over the lake. One of the best birds for the day was this dark morph Short-tailed Hawk. This hawk which is hard to find in the winter months was a welcomed "count week" bird for Hernando Audubon who held their Christmas Bird Count the next day.
We found thirty-four species as the morning warmed. Later Ray & Ken went on to the Big Pine area and added this photo of a Red-headed Woodpecker. The best birds of the day was the Short-tailed Hawk and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Everyone had a safe and enjoyable time while social distancing and wearing masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was a bright morning and likely the coolest in months. So, the birds stayed pretty active for the entire three hour outing. Unfortunately, only Rey Wells and Ken Spilios ventured afield. The action started immediately with the sighting of a Yellow-throated Warbler. It was in a palm tree at the front entrance of the Lecanto Post Office! That’s where we met up. We then caravanned to several spots with differing habitats to give us a chance at as many species as possible. We tallied 44 species and had a good time doing it. Here are two photos taken that morning.
Citrus County Audubon members united in a Zoom meeting on October21 to view a PowerPoint presentation. There were 15 participants who had contributed their choice photos. Each member was provided the opportunity to describe the photo, naming the bird and where it was taken. The gathering started at seven and concluded at about eight-fifteen. There were 25 attending the gathering. It was conducted without a hitch. We are encouraged and intend to introduce other speakers. Our upcoming Zoom session will be on November 18 and will have Gina Kent hosting her presentation on Swallow-tailed Kites. I will be providing the link in due time. Thanks to all who participated.
18 birders joined in a fun trip to ECO. This is usually the first of the season, and due to the present social distancing guidelines, we were successful in pulling it off. The morning fog made it difficult for quite some time to see any of the small birds plainly. We could see them in the canopy, but could not ID many of them. It took some time to finally be able to definitely discern their identity. We had 3 woodpecker species, Red-eyed & White-Eyed Vireos, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, House & Carolina Wrens, Black & White, Palm, Pine, and Yellow-throated, Prairie Warblers. We heard Indigo Buntings. The most exciting birds were two Ovenbirds.
This Pileated flew in near where Ken and I were finishing up the trip and gave us a good sendoff. Thanks to Ken and Effie for their photos. We had 34 species. Here is the eBird Link to the list https://ebird.org/checklist/S74599867
Four very eager to be outside birders visited the Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park. It was a little cooler today with no humidity, but rather windy. The list of birds were not plentiful, but the park is very well planned. There are many board walks and three loops. There are bathrooms on the route and it is very easy walking. We did see many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and some with goslings. 2 Kestrels, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed hawk, White Ibis, Little Blue, Great Blue, and Great Egret.
What a beautiful day for a field trip! 11 eager birders walked the property surrounding the visitors center. The habitats for birds abound. Blue Jays, Robins, Northern Parulas, American Goldfinches, 3 woodpeckers, Vireos, and more. The surprising thing was there were many water birds, but were not easy to see. Great Blues, Little Blues, Tri-color, Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Anhingas, Common Gallinule and Snowy.
One of the highlights was watching a Kestrel bomb a Red-shouldered Hawk. The Kestrel bombed the hawk for several minutes and then gave up when the hawk didn't budge from the top of the tree. We tallied 42 species for the morning.
Another fun and productive Citrus Audubon Trip, this time at Audubon's Ahhochee Hill which is a unique property with some elevation. We had many Red-headed Woodpeckers, along with 4 other 'pecker species, including the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Pileated (heard). We also had a nice flock of A. Goldfinch and Cedar Waxwings. Some had brief look at the Swallow-tailed Kite and a Barred Owl was heard. Afterwords, we took some visitors to Ft. Cooper S.P. for a look at the nesting Great Horned Owl and we got a good look at a circling S.T. Kite, our first of the year! Unfortunately, we were only able to see the tail and wingtips of the Owl! The last px is the G.H. Owl from yesterday evening when she was all eyes! Jim & Eileen
We went out on the Tidewater Tours at Cedar Key Feb 24, 2020. One of several spectacular sights was an island of over 400 American Oystercatchers! Here is a link to a YouTube video that Tom took of them. You have to watch it to believe it. There were hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants, at least 200 American Avocets. Many White Pelicans, Willets, Least Sandpipers, many Marbled Godwits. I could not recommend this trip other than it should be a must. We even had a Whimbrel. Photo courtesy of Sandra Marraffino.
Chilling temperatures did not deter 20 excited birders from coming out to bird Emeralda on the first day of opening to traffic. Did I say cold? Why yes, yes I did. It seemed to get colder as the day progressed with the wind ever stronger. But bird we did. There were very few little birds. Most were hunkered down due to the "Arctic" winds. They wee brutal at times. But we persevered!. The entire time we were on the trial there was only one other vehicle that came behind and wanted to pass our caravan. There were many Scaup but very few other ducks. Coots were present in great numbers as were Common Gallinules, Glossy and White Ibis, and Great Egrets. We were a group of cold and hungry birders. 17 of us opted to go to lunch. Our usual restaurant , Ramshackle Cafe was able to seat us around 11:15. There were very few people in the restaurant, but by the time we left at 12:30, it had filled to max. There were people outside at tables. Good lunches had by all. Then several of left for Venetian Gardens to see the Purple Gallinules. We racked up a 45 species list for the trip.https://ebird.org/checklist/S64861361 The link for the list on eBird.