B-A-D -17

Vermilion Flycatcher record shot
A bad photo of a B-A-D lifer: Vermilion Flycatcher on February 15

Today is the 100th day of the year. This is the third year in a row I have made it at least this far in the Bird-a-Day Challenge. My goal in the past was simply to improve upon the previous year’s total. This year my goal is a bit less ambitious, because soon I will be traveling somewhere where there are no birds! I will be out of the game before the end of April, probably by the 27th (17 days!).

Lesser Black-backed Gull
This exact bird’s second B-A-D appearance: Lesser Black-backed Gull on January 25

Knowing I don’t have a chance to beat last year’s record has made my strategy this year much simpler. I’ve certainly fretted less about using up easy birds early in the challenge. It helped that I got some pretty good birds in our yard: Painted Bunting on January 14; Ovenbird on January 29; House Finch on March 20.

Florida Scrub-Jay
A B-A-D staple: Florida Scrub-Jay on March 23

Even so, picking out a bird each day still makes me think about things like the timing of migration and species abundance on a regular basis. Doing this for the last few years has been a great exercise in learning local birds in my new home state.

Hooded Warbler
Best B-A-D of the year so far: Hooded Warbler on March 31

And again it’s been a lot of fun! I am already looking forward to playing in 2015, with a target date to beat. :)

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Birding Gemini Springs, March 2014

I’m so glad March is over. An unexpected emergency home repair project turned into a multi-week home improvement saga that is still ongoing — though by now the end is in sight. March was an extremely stressful month to say the least.

I did manage to bird at Gemini Springs 9 times during March (with no visits between the 16th and the 21st — that was a rough week). I saw 69 species (compared to 79 in March 2013), including one awesome new addition to my patch list – Prothonotary Warbler (that was a really good day). The complete list of birds is at the end of this post.

Despite visiting 9 times, I have few photos from the month that was. A lot of my visits were fairly quick and I just didn’t take the time I usually do. Here are a handful of photographic highlights from birding at Gemini Springs in March, 2014.

sunrise @ Gemini Springs
sunrise | 10 March 2014

American Bittern
American Bittern photoshop fun | 12 March 2014

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule | 15 March 2014

moonrise
moonrise | 15 March 2014

moon
moon | 15 March 2014

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye | 26 March 2014

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 26 March 2014

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | 26 March 2014

I was finishing up my walk on the afternoon of the 26th, hurrying along the bike path in a normally relatively bird-free part of my route. I heard a Tufted Titmouse scolding and the birding gods were with me because I decided to investigate. I doubt the titmouse was in any way perturbed by the Prothonotary Warbler foraging in an adjacent tree, but if it wasn’t for the crazy scolding, I never would have stopped there. I saw a flash of yellow but wasn’t sure what it was until I got my bins on the bird. An unexpected find — I am sure I gasped.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | 26 March 2014

26MAR_watching
Prothonotary Warbler keeping an eye on a potential meal | 26 March 2014

The month ended with another gasp — my Bobcat sightings are few and far between.

bobcat
why did the Bobcat cross the road? | 30 March 2014

Gemini Springs, March 2014 month bird list
Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
Blue-winged Teal – Anas discors
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
King Rail – Rallus elegans
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue-headed Vireo – Vireo solitarius
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Prothonotary Warbler – Protonotaria citrea
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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Red Knot FLV5M

At the end of December, I participated in the Daytona CBC (Christmas Bird Count). A stretch of beach was part of my group’s area, most of which we could cover by car. As we drove along four-plus miles of beach, I counted the gulls and terns, while others in the group counted shorebirds and other species.

Red Knots

Among the shorebirds we found a couple of flocks of Red Knots. One of the birds was banded and flagged. I took some photos of the distant bird in rather poor drizzly conditions — and was pleased to later see that the flag’s numbers were readable.

Banded Red Knot

I reported the sighting on bandedbirds.org and was amazed to find much data about this particular bird’s movements was immediately available to me. No waiting for a response, awesome!

Red Knots have one of the longest migrations of any bird species. Birds in the western hemisphere may travel over 9000 miles, twice a year, between their breeding grounds in the Arctic to their winter homes in southern South America.

The rufa subspecies of the eastern Americas is emperiled, in great part due to its reliance on the availability of horseshoe crab eggs during a critical part of its migration. These birds are the subject of the excellent Nature episode Crash: A Tale of Two Species.

Red Knots

The bird we saw on the CBC was first banded during spring migration, on June 3, 2005, in New Jersey. Since then, this hearty Red Knot has been sighted several times. During the following spring, it was seen again in New Jersey. The next sighting was in the fall of 2009, where FLV5M* apparently spent (at least) nearly two months on the coast of Georgia. Sightings in South Carolina and again New Jersey followed. In March 2011, the Red Knot was captured again (this time in South Carolina) and had its flag replaced (*to the present FLV5M). Sightings continued to come in from New Jersey, Georgia, South Carolina, and once in Delaware. The first Florida sighting was reported at Ormond Beach in January of 2013. Our CBC sighting at Daytona Beach on December 28, 2013, was the first reported December sighting for this bird.

Between its first capture in 2005 and our sighting in December 2013, Red Knot FLV5M had traveled well over 145,000 miles, and possibly many more. All on its own power. Red Knots weigh less than 5 ounces. Isn’t that amazing?!

If you’ve ever seen a flagged shorebird, be sure to report your sighting!

www.bandedbirds.org

In North America, other species of banded birds can be reported to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory. If you aren’t able to read the entire band, your sighting may still be useful. Do a web search for your species and banding efforts; that’s what I did when I could only partially read the band of a Reddish Egret Arthur and I found on the Keys a couple of years ago.

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Posted in Banding, CBC, Florida, Migration | 1 Comment

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

Our time in the Florida Keys was over. We were heading home after Arthur’s turtle conference in early December, taking US1 across the Keys back to the mainland. We were speeding along Lower Matecumbe Key when I spotted a white mass perched on a telephone poll.

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

We turned around for a better look. It was a nearly all-white Turkey Vulture!

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

Oh my goodness, how unusual and beautiful! I was oohing and aahing. :)

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

Quite a few feathers look to have some brown on them, so this bird is not an albino. A Turkey Vulture with normal plumage would have a red head just like this bird does.

Leucistic Turkey Vulture

This beauty was not my first leucistic bird, but it was my first leucistic vulture, and my first leucistic bird in Florida. :)

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Birding Gemini Springs, February 2014

In February I birded at Gemini Springs an insane 22 times. Whoa! Why did I visit my local patch so often?

So here’s a confession: I love eBird. This year, eBird has been promoting various challenges for the title of “eBirder of the Month”. I’m not in it to win it, but I find the challenges a fun way to mix up my regular birding habits. In January eBirders were challenged to submit an average of one complete checklist per day. Easy, peasy! In February, eBirders were challenged to submit at least 20 checklists from a single patch. I thought this would be super-easy, but I was unpleasantly surprised to find myself getting a little bit sick of Gemini Springs about midway through the month! I guess I normally bird at the park about 2 times per week on average. Last month, I felt like I was there every stinkin’ day. I did a few stationery counts (which I normally never do) from the fishing pier and at the sinkhole; I did accelerated walks; I followed tried-and-true routes backwards. I made it, with a couple of checklists to spare. Phew!

I ended up seeing 73 species; which is, unbelievably, ONE SHY of my total from 2013, where I only submitted 9 checklists! Blergh. The total list for 2014 is at the end of this post.

Here are some photographic highlights from a month of birding at Gemini Springs.

Because of the eBird Challenge, several times I went out when I normally would have stayed home. There were a lot of foggy mornings and misty, rainy walks during the month.

foggy
Misty morning at Gemini Springs | 01-FEB-14

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk in the mist | 01-FEB-14

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker | 02-FEB-14

Barred Owl
Barred Owl | 03-FEB-14

Great Egret
Great Egret, great catch | 03-FEB-14

fishing buddies
fishing buddies | 03-FEB-14

dew
dew | 04-FEB-14

Scarlet Kingsnake
Scarlet Kingsnake on the bike path | 05-FEB-14

One morning I took a path I hardly ever walk and was rewarded with a small flock of Field Sparrows. I entered 8 in my checklist (which was flagged) but estimated there might have been up to 12 birds. Nice! Only my second Field Sparrow sighting at Gemini Springs.

Field Sparrows (eBird record shot)
Field Sparrows | 10-FEB-14

American Five-lined Skink (deceased)
Beautiful blue underside of an American Five-lined Skink (unfortunately deceased) | 11-FEB-14

American Coot
American Coot | 12-FEB-14

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren | 17-FEB-14

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | 20-FEB-14

Osprey
Osprey | 20-FEB-14

Florida Green Watersnake
Florida Green Watersnake | 20-FEB-14

American Alligator
American Alligator | 23-FEB-14

Gemini Springs fishing pier
fishing pier | 23-FEB-14

Walking a well-known path in reverse order was interesting. I didn’t see any new birds but I was surprised how different the path looked in some places just because I was looking at things from the opposite direction. I stop at this Live Oak tree all the time, but I never saw that nice critter-sized hole on the other side of the chest-high limb where I sometimes rest my arms while looking at songbirds. :O

Live Oak
fishing pier | 24-FEB-14

Yellow-rumped Warblers visit Florida in the winter. I’ve been seeing them since about November. Their numbers seemed to increase during February; by the beginning of April they’ll mostly have moved out. Maybe these guys were bathing after a long night of migration?


Bathing Yellow-rumped Warblers | 25-FEB-14

The eBird challenge for March is extremely appealing: submit checklists from at least 20 different hotspots! Woo hoo! Though I wish they had posted the criteria before March 3rd, I don’t think I will have any problem fulfilling this one. I am looking forward to getting away from Gemini Springs just a bit this month! :D

Gemini Springs, February 2014 month bird list
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue-headed Vireo – Vireo solitarius
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
Field Sparrow – Spizella pusilla
Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
Brown-headed Cowbird – Molothrus ater
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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The Turtle Hospital

Back in September, Arthur and I spent a few days camping at Bahia Honda State Park in the Middle Keys. One afternoon we took a break from snorkeling to visit the remarkable Turtle Hospital on Marathon.

sign
Welcome to The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital has an interesting history. Here is a brief overview (related from signage at the hospital; any factual errors are mine).

It started when a man named Richie Moretti purchased Marathon’s Hidden Harbor Motel in 1981. The hotel had a 100,000 gallon saltwater pool, which was converted to display fish starting in 1984. The following year, local schools started visiting the hotel pool for marine education programs. Students asked, “where are the turtles?” Good question!

In 1986, Moretti obtained a permit to rehab sea turtles. The first patient arrived at the facility, now named the Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, that same year. More patients arrived. Surgeries would be performed in re-purposed motel rooms.

The facility expanded in 1991 when the nightclub next door to the motel was purchased. The nightclub became The Turtle Hospital in 1992.

ambulances
Turtle ambulances

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit the motel and hospital hard. Flooding to the property was extensive and the motel ceased operation. The entire facility registered as a non-profit organization and continued as a rehabilitation center and turtle hospital. Today, the motel rooms are used (in part) for storage, and to house interns, visitors, and staff.

motel
There’s no doubt the facility used to be a motel!

In 2010 a brand new education facility, funded by the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate, opened at the hospital.

education
Life-size models of sea turtles

education
Lots of turtle information in the education center

turtle anatomy
Turtle insides!

Educational tours are offered several times daily. Our tour began with a presentation on the different types of turtles that come to the hospital.

hospital
The hospital used to be a nightclub!

classroom
Turtle classroom

Next we got to see where injured turtles are admitted and where operations and procedures occur. We could see that the patients can be quite large!

operation
Turtle hospital operation room

biggie
The biggest patient ever admitted to the hospital

A turtle was recovering from a procedure when our tour came through. A member of the staff must stay with any turtle as it comes out of anesthesia to help it breathe — unconscious turtles don’t breathe on their own.

recovery
A patient recovers from anesthesia

We learned about the rehabilitation pools. The original sea water pool houses permanent residents as well as turtles at the last stage of rehab before release. Today the facility also has additional smaller tanks that can house turtles at various stages in their rehabilitation.

map
Map of the turtle rehabilitation tanks

tanks
Rehabilitation tanks

We learned about some of the patients. Jack was a Green Sea Turtle with the condition Fibropapilloma Virus. This may manifest as large growths, which can be seen on Jack’s front left flipper in this photo.

Jack
Jack

Xiomy was a Loggerhead Sea Turtle that was found in Islamorada as the victim of a boat strike. She had been admitted on July 29th, 2013. Xiomy was released in October.

Xiomy
Xiomy

We were surprised to learn that the hospital had an education turtle in residence. Zippy the Educational Ambassador is a Loggerhead Sea Turtle that came to the Hospital from Gumbo Limbo on July 28th, 2013. Florida Atlantic University has a research facility at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center; hatchling turtles are studied and then released. Zippy was kept to be an education ambassador; if I understood correctly, Zippy will eventually also be released back into the wild (with a very big head start!).

Zippy
Hi Zippy!

Zippy with enrichment
Zippy’s tank includes interesting objects for enrichment

A few little hatchlings were in one of the tanks. These healthy little turtles would soon be released.

hatchlings
Loggerhead on the left, Green on the right

Finally we spent some time looking at the large pool, where we could see healthy turtles nearly ready for release as well as the hospital’s permanent residents.

pool
Sea water pool

rehab
Rehab patients nearly ready for release

rehab
A patient in the final stages of rehab before release

The hospital has capacity to care for adult sea turtles that are no longer able to survive in the wild due to their injuries. Note the three round masses on the back of turtle in the lower right of the below photo. Those are weights; the turtle is unable to properly regulate its buoyancy on its own. Another turtle in the photo has one weight on its back.

residents
Permanent resident sea turtles

We had a great time visiting The Turtle Hospital, and seeing the great work they do there. They have released over 1000 rehabilitated sea turtles back into the wild since 1986. Sometimes they invite the public to release events — they just released two turtles on February 14th. Keep an eye on The Turtle Hospital Facebook page to keep up with the latest news.

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Posted in Endangered, Florida, Herps, Nature Center, Not Birds | Leave a comment

2013 BirdLife success stories

BirdLife International Logo

BirdLife International had some great conservation success stories in 2013. They are asking supporters, birders and conservation-minded fans to vote on their favorite success story of the year.

Last year was an important year for the BirdLife Partnership. Our network grew to cover nearly two thirds of the world’s countries and territories – totalling 120 organisations and growing. Together, we’ve done some amazing things towards creating a world where nature and people live in greater harmony, more equitably and sustainably.

The highlighted success stories are: Stopping the slaughter of falcons in India; Northern Bald Ibis fledge 148 chicks in the wild; Protecting 60,000 ha of Hooded Grebe habitat in Patagonia; Removing a killer power line in Sudan; Saving Panama Bay from destruction; and Helping one of the rarest birds on the planet. Wow, what a bunch of great news for birds and habitat in so many different places! It is hard to pick a ‘favorite’ story because they are all so uplifting. I voted on the successful breeding season for the Northern Bald Ibis — I think birds that are not traditionally considered to be beautiful or majestic sometimes get looked over. I was happy to give my vote to these bald beauties. :)

Visit BirdLife International’s website to learn about the highlights and vote on your favorite: Highlights from the world’s biggest conservation partnership. Voting ends February 14th.

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Birding Gemini Springs, Janaury 2014

Last month I birded at Gemini Springs six times, finding 70 different species. That’s two more species than my January 2013 list — in about half the visits. King Rail, Mallard, and Mottled Duck were new additions to my patch list. The complete list for this month is at the end of this post. Now, here are some photographic highlights from birding at Gemini Springs in January 2014.

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow | 10 Jan 2014

Anhinga
Anhinga | 13 Jan 2014

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker | 13 Jan 2014

reflection
reflection | 13 Jan 2014

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler | 13 Jan 2014

Northern Mockingbird
ready for my close-up | 18 Jan 2014

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler | 18 Jan 2014

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe | 19 Jan 2014

red sunrise
sunrise colors and moon | 19 Jan 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler | 19 Jan 2014

misty morning
misty morning | 20 Jan 2014

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 20 Jan 2014

Gemini Springs, January 2013 month list
Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
Mallard (Domestic type) – Anas platyrhynchos (Domestic type)
Mottled Duck – Anas fulvigula
Hooded Merganser – Lophodytes cucullatus
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
King Rail – Rallus elegans
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Marsh Wren – Cistothorus palustris
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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Birding Gemini Springs, December 2013

Yikes, I’m so far behind where I want to be with my blogging! What happened to January, that’s what I want to know?!

In December 2013 I birded at Gemini Springs five times, where I saw a total of 67 species (4 more than my 2012 December total). New for my all-time Gemini Springs list was Great Horned Owl on Christmas Day. My total bird list is at the end of this post. Here are some photographic highlights from a month of birding my local patch.

Gemini Springs
Dam viewed from the fishing pier | 03 December 2013

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 03 December 2013

eBird record shot
Very late American Redstart | 11 December 2013

ex-armadillo
ex-armadillo | 16 December 2013

Bobcat
Bobcat | 16 December 2013

Common Ground-Doves
Common Ground-Doves | 16 December 2013

Common Snapping Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle | 16 December 2013

pre dawn
Before sunrise | 20 December 2013

Anhinga sunrise
Anhinga sunrise | 20 December 2013

easy rider
easy rider | 20 December 2013

American Kestrel
American Kestrel | 20 December 2013

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike | 20 December 2013

memorial
memorial | 20 December 2013

Eastern Phoebes
Eastern Phoebes | 25 December 2013

Late in the afternoon on Christmas Day, Arthur and I biked the Spring-to-spring bike trail to Lake Monroe Park. It was getting dark on our way back when a softly hooting Great Horned Owl stopped us in our tracks. Soon we heard a second bird and did our best to locate them visually. Arthur spotted one bird and we tracked it as it flew to its mate. A new bird for the park and a nice Christmas gift for us. :)

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl | 25 December 2013

Gemini Springs bird list, December 2013

Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue-headed Vireo – Vireo solitarius
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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#SCBWF Pelagic January 27, 2014

On Monday my friend Kim and I boarded the Pastime Princess for the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival (SCBWF) pelagic trip out of Ponce Inlet. I used the same method as last time to track our trip. The light gray dotted line along the bottom of the map on the left side shows the Volusia County border; we were within Volusia waters for the entire trip.

pelagic map
Click here for full view of map

Seas were extremely calm, which unfortunately meant that few birds were on the wing. The easygoing, relaxed ride made it simple for me to check our location every half hour or so. The dock (start/end point) is somewhere northwest of point A in the inlet. When calculating distance between points, I used a straight line. At our farthest we were just about 50 miles offshore and we traveled a total of somewhere around 150 miles. I added a table to the end of this post showing where we were at what time.

placid
placid water

From about 8:45 to about 11:30 we saw zero birds. Two Audubon’s Shearwaters in the early afternoon and a pair of jaegers (one Pomarine and one Parasitic) as we approached land on the way back were the most exciting birds. Northern Gannets were in relative abundance closer to shore and we could study their plumage cycles. In total I recorded 28 species, most of which were found in the inlet at the start and end of the day. I entered six eBird checklists; see the links at the end of this post.

Northern Gannet immature
Northern Gannet, 1st cycle

Four washback sea turtles were released near beds of Sargassum. Two of the youngsters were from the Marine Science Center and two were from Sea World. There were three Greens and one Loggerhead.

sea turtle release
Michael Brothers holds baby sea turtles prior to release. Green on the left; Loggerhead on the right

We did see 6 to 8 adult Loggerhead Sea Turtles throughout the day. We also came across pods of Common Bottlenose (in the inlet) and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins during the journey. Twice we were lucky to have some spotteds join us as we clipped along at speed. They were a ton of fun to watch. Look for the baby in the below video.

Species list, January 27 2014 pelagic:

Black Scoter – Melanitta americana
Common Loon – Gavia immer
Audubon’s Shearwater – Puffinus lherminieri
Northern Gannet – Morus bassanus
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Brown Pelican – Pelecanus occidentalis
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
American Oystercatcher – Haematopus palliatus
Ruddy Turnstone – Arenaria interpres
Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima
Pomarine Jaeger – Stercorarius pomarinus
Parasitic Jaeger – Stercorarius parasiticus
Bonaparte’s Gull – Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Laughing Gull – Leucophaeus atricilla
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull – Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull – Larus fuscus
Great Black-backed Gull – Larus marinus
Royal Tern – Thalasseus maximus
Sandwich Tern – Thalasseus sandvicensis
Black Skimmer – Rynchops niger
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

Here are my eBird checklists from the day:

eBird checklist: 6:45AM, 45 minutes, 5.35 miles
eBird checklist: 7:30AM, 1 hour 15 minutes, 15.98 miles
eBird checklist: 11:30AM, 2 hours, 25.85 miles
eBird checklist: 3:00PM, 30 minutes, 5.87 miles
eBird checklist: 3:30PM, 1 hour 10 minutes, 14.06 miles
eBird checklist: 4:40PM, 1 hour 50 minutes, 22.67 miles

Here’s where we were, when:

Marker Time Latitude, Longitude Distance
A 6:47AM 29 1.38N, 80 54.53W -
B 7:32AM 29 4.47N, 80 54.18W 5.35 miles
C 7:50AM 29 4.25N, 80 52.27W 1.92 miles
D 8:19AM 29 1.28N, 80 45.57W 7.56 miles
E 8:45AM 28 59.36N, 80 39.47W 6.50 miles
F 9:43AM 28 52.57N, 80 26.58W 15.07 miles
G 10:23AM 28 48.7N, 80 17.58W 10.17 miles
H 11:04AM 28 48.26N, 80 6.48W 11.25 miles
I 11:36AM 28 49.17N, 80 0.22W 6.38 miles
J 12:25PM 28 51.43N, 79 48.48W 12.15 miles
K 1:00PM 28 53.49N, 79 54.12W 6.21 miles
L 1:30PM 28 55.5N, 80 1.18W 7.49 miles
M 2:01PM 28 55.58N, 80 6.17W 5.03 miles
N 2:31PM 28 57.12N, 80 13.30W 7.40 miles
O 3:01PM 28 58.36N, 80 18.28W 5.23 miles
P 3:32PM 29 0.44N, 80 23.6W 5.87 miles
Q 3:39PM 29 1.56N, 80 27.54W 4.14 miles
R 4:40PM 29 3.39N, 80 37.14W 9.92 miles
S 5:03PM 29 3.58N, 80 43.51W 6.41 miles
T 5.31PM 29 4.52N, 80 51.45W 8.08 miles
return A approx 6:30PM - 8.18 miles
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Posted in Pelagic, Space Coast Fest, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment
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