Birding Gemini Springs, November 2014

Last month I birded at Gemini Springs 7 times, recording 67 species. Last year I had 62 species, in 2012 I had 57 species, and in November 2011 (have we been in Florida so long already?!?!) I had 48 species.

Despite the apparently good number of birds for November, the month wasn’t particularly exciting and I didn’t add any new birds to my patch or year list. Photographic opportunities were lacking, too. So here are my highlights from the month.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
Anhinga with Red-shouldered Hawk in background | 07-NOV-14

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker | 07-NOV-14

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
Swamp Sparrow | 11-NOV-14

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
Wood Stork pausing between probing the mud for food | 11-NOV-14

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Terrible Common Yellowthroat picture tortured by Photoshop | 24-NOV-14

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
Loggerhead Shrike | 24-NOV-14

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
Eastern Phoebe | 24-NOV-14

November 2014 bird list, Gemini Springs
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus
Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
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
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
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
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Merlin – Falco columbarius
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
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
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapilla
Northern Waterthrush – Parkesia noveboracensis
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
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
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
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment

Bird on your line? Don’t cut it!

The other morning while birding at Gemini Springs, I shared the dock with a woman who was fishing at the end. I was about finished scanning for birds when I heard her struggling. She had caught a Double-crested Cormorant on her line and she was trying to reel it in.

So often I find discarded fishing line and trash dumped on the pier, and junk left behind by fishermen stands in the spring run and bayou at the park. Unfortunately this reflects badly on all fisherfolk and I have a very bad impression of fishing enthusiasts that I find it hard to get over. The fact that this woman did not simply cut her line, which I believe most fishermen in her position would do, made my day. I rushed over to help her reel in the bird.

I grabbed her net when the bird was close and managed to get the net under the struggling cormorant. Naturally the bird had no idea we were trying to help it so it put up a fight. The fisherwoman and I lifted the bird up and then we worked together to control the bird’s beak. Besides being deadly-stabby, Double-crested Cormorant bills have the added bonus of a hooked tip. If it gets your finger, its more difficult to extricate said finger from the grabby/crushy grasp.

We both took care to keep our faces away from the stabbing bird. My partner had a pair of needle-nosed pliers handy, and she used those to gently grasp the bill — but not before my right index finger got scraped good.

scratched finger

The pliers proved very handy and eventually I was finally able to control the cormorant’s bill and body while the fisherwoman removed two hooks from the bird. One was stuck in a wing and the other in the flesh of a foot. I don’t know if the hooks were barbed like the ones in this tutorial, but I do know they were removed very quickly in the hands of the fisherwoman. This tutorial was created with coastal fisherfolk and Brown Pelicans in mind, but the idea for any bird/situation is about the same.

What to do if you hook a pelican

After the hooks were removed, we released the bird. During the entire ordeal, the fisherwoman was obviously distraught. As we struggled, she repeated over and over that she did not see the bird in the water. She didn’t realize the bird was diving under the water where she was fishing. All I could do was thank her profusely for doing the right thing and not cutting her line. Doing so would have left the bird with hooks in its body and the added danger of entanglement from any attached line. It was an unfortunate incident made right and it gave me a brighter impression of fishers.

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Florida, Gemini Springs | 2 Comments

1st Time Bahamas — Lifers in Freeport

At the end of October*, Arthur and I took a short cruise to Freeport in the Bahamas with Celebration Cruise Line. When I say short, I mean: we left the Port of Palm Beach Sunday night, arrived in Freeport Monday morning, left the Bahamas early Monday evening, and were back in Palm Beach Tuesday morning.

For our short time on Grand Bahama, we used the guide services of longtime island resident Erika Gates. We were joined by another birding couple for the day. Our tour included transportation from the port to four different birding locations and a pleasant lunch at the Garden of the Groves. Erika was a friendly and knowledgeable guide and we were very happy to finish the day with our brand new Bahamas list at 49 species, 9 of which were lifers.

Erika picked us up at the port taxi stand after we disembarked. She told us about the history of Freeport on the drive over to our first stop, The Emerald Golf Course. This is an abandoned course which is now a birding hotspot on the island. Here we spent just over an hour and found 26 species, including 5 lifers: White-cheeked Pintail; Least Grebe; La Sagra’s Flycatcher; Red-legged Thrush; and Worm-eating Warbler. That last one was a nemesis of mine for a while, and continues to be a county thorn in my side. They regularly migrate through central Florida, but I manage to miss them every season. So please, don’t ever mention Worm-eating Warblers to me.

birding group
Looking for birds at Emerald Golf Course

La Sagra's Flycatcher (Myiarchus sagrae)
La Sagra’s Flycatcher at Emerald Golf Course

Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)
Least Grebe at Emerald Golf Course

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
American Kestrel at Emerald Golf Course

Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)
Black-throated Green Warbler at Emerald Golf Course

The most exciting bird at this spot was a species I’d seen many times before. We were walking along a dilapidated golf cart path when I noticed a sparrow hopping along the concrete in front of us. I got it in my bins and said something like, “Sparrow up ahead on the path! Hey, that looks like a Lincoln’s Sparrow! What do you think, Erika?” She got a bit excited but also said she did not know what it was, because they don’t get any sparrows on Grand Bahama! All five of us tried to get better looks and I was sure it was a Lincoln’s. I got some photos for ID of this locally rare bird. It was a life bird for Erika.

Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
Lincoln’s Sparrow at Emerald Golf Course

Our next stop was Erika’s house to see what birds might be visiting her extremely bird-friendly property – Garden of the Gates. We walked the paths and checked out the many water features, looking for birds. Here we saw 19 species, including two lifers: Loggerhead Kingbird and Thick-billed Vireo. We also had really nice looks at a bunch of migrants.

Red-legged Thrush (Turdus plumbeus)
Red-legged Thrush in Erika’s yard

Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)
Northern Parula in Erika’s yard

Our next destination was Reef Golf Course, another unused golf course, where we saw 7 species during our brief stop. We didn’t add any lifers here, but 5 out of the 7 weren’t seen anywhere else during the day.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
Green Heron at Reef Golf Course

Our final stop with Erika was at the wonderful Garden of the Groves, where we had 22 species. Two of these were life birds: Cuban Emerald; and Greater Antillean Bullfinch. The 12-acre tropical garden was designed as a gift to the founders of Freeport, Mr. Wallace Groves and his wife Georgette. In addition to exploring the paths here in search of birds, we had a nice lunch at the on-site cafe.

Cuban Emerald (Chlorostilbon ricordii))
Cuban Emerald at Garden of the Groves

birding group
Our birding group at Garden of the Groves

Birding Guide Erika Gates
Our guide Erika at Garden of the Groves

At the end of the afternoon Erika brought us back to the port. From the ship’s deck I kept a list of birds seen at the Freeport Cruise Port, where I found four species total and added my final Bahamas species: Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

We had a Groupon-style deal on the cruise which made this little getaway an affordable short and memorable birding trip.

*October 2013

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Bahamas, Cruise Birding, Life List, Travel | Leave a comment

Birding Gemini Springs, October 2014

Last month I birded at Gemini Springs 10 times, recording 71 (+1) species. I think that may be my best month at the park; it certainly blows away my total of 57 species from last October. The complete list for October 2014 is at the end of this post.

It was a pretty exciting month. Four birds were new to my all-time list for Gemini Springs: Blue-winged Warbler; Tennessee Warbler; Magnolia Warbler; and Summer Tanager. Four species were my FOY (first of year) at the park: Northern Harrier; Merlin; Sedge Wren; and Baltimore Oriole. I had another 12 FOF (First of Fall) species, including Palm, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Pied-billed Grebe, and Tree Swallow. Yeah, it was a good month. Here are a few photos.

The month started out with lots of standing water still in various parts of the park. I checked this meter a few times, but unfortunately I don’t have any idea what it “should” be in a normal October. Hopefully I’ll remember to check next year. I’ll also try to remember to have a look before our rainy season begins! Anyway, here is the level from October 5th.

water level at Gemini Springs
water level near the spring | 05 October 2014

Eastern Grey Squirrel eating magnolia seeds
Eastern Grey Squirrel eating magnolia seeds | 05 October 2014

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Pileated Woodpecker | 06 October 2014

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
Brown Thrasher | 07 October 2014

sunrise at Gemini Springs
sunrise | 13 October 2014

On October 13th I saw this female American Kestrel trying to have breakfast. She was being harassed by a pair of Blue Jays. In this photo she’s trying to yell them off. You can see her meal, a dragonfly, at her feet.

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
American Kestrel | 13 October 2014

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)
Southern Leopard Frog | 13 October 2014

14OCT_cooties
American Coots | 14 October 2014

It’s not a very natural photo, but on October 20th I was pretty excited with another first. I’d never seen a Praying Mantis before! There were two on the bike path. One was moving very slowly, and the other wasn’t moving at all. After watching them awhile I gently poked them off the path so they wouldn’t get run over. Praying Mantises can run!

Praying Mantis (Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina))?
Praying Mantis | 20 October 2014

Black-and-yellow Argiope (Argiope sp)
Black-and-yellow Argiope | 20 October 2014

Also on October 20th, I found a dead Tricolored Heron. Its neck looked like it might have a small injury but it appeared to be otherwise intact. This is a detail of its feathers; I also took a photo of its head.

Tricolored Heron detail
Tricolored Heron detail | 20 October 2014

sunrise at Gemini Springs
sunrise | 22 October 2014

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)
Palm Warbler | 29 October 2014

Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis)
Sedge Wren | 29 October 2014

Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Barred Owl | 31 October 2014

By the end of the month, the water levels had decreased across the park.

water level at Gemini Springs
water level | 31 October 2014

October 2014 bird list, Gemini Springs

Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus
Accipiter sp. – Accipiter sp.
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
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
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Merlin – Falco columbarius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
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
Sedge Wren – Cistothorus platensis
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapilla
Blue-winged Warbler – Vermivora cyanoptera
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Tennessee Warbler – Oreothlypis peregrina
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Magnolia Warbler – Setophaga magnolia
Black-throated Blue Warbler – Setophaga caerulescens
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Summer Tanager – Piranga rubra
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
Baltimore Oriole – Icterus galbula

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment

Birding Gemini Springs, September 2014

In September I birded at Gemini Springs 21 times. I recorded 64 (+2 sp.) species of bird, a good increase over last year’s 56 species. The complete list is at the end of this post.

Clapper Rail was new to my park list; I heard at least one individual calling during much of the second half of the month. Also new to my all-time park list: Rock Pigeon (flyover flock); Peregrine Falcon (a thrilling fly-over); Common Nighthawk; Yellow-throated Vireo; and Purple Martin (a small flock; rather late). Those last two are kind of overdue as they’re not all that rare and have been recorded by others in the park. Gray Catbirds arrived right on time at the very end of the month.

There was a lot of rain during the month. The bayou / spring runs were higher than I’ve ever seen them and there were a lot of paths that were completely flooded. The sinkhole area flooded over until a small ditch was dug to a retention area — but then the entire area flooded over again a couple of days later. All the extra standing water gave mosquitoes extra breeding grounds; late in the month mosquitoes were the most annoying I’ve ever noticed at the park.

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

Great Blue Heron | Ardea herodias
Great Blue Heron | 01 September 2014

Golden Silk Orb-weaver | Nephila sp.
Golden Silk Orb-weaver sp. | 01 September 2014

Limpkin | Aramus guarauna
Limpkin | 01 September 2014

During my walk on September 5th, I saw a few of these guys:

Air Potato Leaf Beetle | Lilioceris cheni?
Air Potato Leaf Beetle | 05 September 2014

Apparently Air Potato Leaf Beetles were brought in to combat the Air Potato problem at the park. Without really knowing too much about this problem, the idea of bringing in non-native beetles to consume non-native plants makes me uneasy. I need to learn more about this procedure. Anyway, the beetles got busy on the air potatoes.

Leaf Beetles have been nomming here
Air Potato leaves | 05 September 2014

Leaf Beetles have been nomming here
Air Potato leaves | 05 September 2014

Barred Owl | Strix varia
Barred Owl | 05 September 2014

This time of year, the seeds of the Magnolia trees at the park are ripening. And all around the park I could hear squirrels eating the seeds. Squirrels chewing with their mouths open sound like rocks being rubbed on metal files.

Magnolia seeds
Magnolia tree seeds | 05 September 2014

This squirrel looked a bit rough, perhaps with a bot fly infestation. Bot flies are annoying to squirrels but most are not permanently debilitated by the flies.

Eastern Gray Squirrel | Sciurus carolinensis
Eastern Gray Squirrel, possibly with bot flies | 05 September 2014

I also found a very large snake skin on September 5th.

snake skin
snake skin | 05 September 2014

I wanted to pull it out to take a picture of its full size, but it was so damp out I was afraid the skin would disintegrate when I touched it. It was surprisingly thick and durable; it felt like a bike inner tube! And it was kind of scary big.

snake skin
snake skin detail | 05 September 2014

snake skin
snake skin all stretched out | 05 September 2014

flooding at Gemini Springs
flooding around the sinkhole | 08 September 2014

Gemini Springs spring run water level 9/8/14
high water in the spring run | 08 September 2014

Blue-striped Garter Snake | Thamnophis sirtalis similis
Blue-striped Garter Snake | 10 September 2014

tadpole in sinkhole flood
tadpole in sinkhole flood area | 13 September 2014

Eastern Gray Squirrel | Sciurus carolinensis
Eastern Gray Squirrel | 13 September 2014

Ovenbird | Seiurus aurocapilla
Ovenbird | 15 September 2014

Bald Eagle | Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Bald Eagle watching over the spring run | 16 September 2014

Green Heron | Butorides virescens
Green Heron on the fishing pier | 16 September 2014

Little Blue Heron | Egretta caerulea
Young Little Blue Heron hunting in the sinkhole floodage | 20 September 2014

Red-shouldered Hawks | Buteo lineatus
Red-shouldered Hawks — can you tell the male from the female? | 21 September 2014

White Ibis | Eudocimus albus
White Ibis | 21 September 2014

On the 21st I had a very nice outing. I saw 36 species, including my first Common Ground-Dove in several months, a juvenile Loggerhead Shrike, my first Purple Martins at the park, a raucous family of Northern Mockingbirds that was fun to watch, a good number of warblers, etc etc. It was a good morning. When I got back to my bike I saw a lanky tortie cat hanging out by the bike rack. I made kissy noises, not really expecting the cat to approach me, but she did. Two of her kittens followed her, and eventually I got the two youngsters in my hands. But now what? The mother cat came and went, soliciting pets and purring loudly. I figured I would be able to catch her up eventually, but first I needed some help. I asked passersby for a box, but had no luck. Eventually a chap from the park came over and brought me a box. The kittens promptly escaped. As they made their escape, a third kitten appeared. Oh boy. The park chap brought over some cat food and eventually I caught the two kittens again, along with their sibling. I got ma cat too, but she went ballistic when I tried to put her in the box. I finally got in touch with my family and they arrived with a cat carrier for ma cat. They’ve all checked out healthy at the vet and have had their first round of shots. The two orange ones are boys; the black kitten is a girl. They don’t have names yet.

Cat/kittens found at Gemini Springs
Cats! | 21 September 2014

flooding at Gemini Springs
Flood relief — ditch dug between sinkhole and retention area | 24 September 2014

On the 27th my mom and I attended a bird walk at the park sponsored by Lyonia Preserve and West Volusia Audubon. I rarely see other birders at the park so it was nice to see a bunch of them at the same time. We had a late start time (10AM!) and didn’t see a huge amount of birds, but it was a nice morning nonetheless.

birders at Gemini Springs
Birders! | 27 September 2014

Gemini Springs spring run water level 9/27/14
even higher water in the spring run | 27 September 2014

flooding at Gemini Springs
Little Blue Heron checking out the sinkhole and adjacent retention area — both completely flooded | 29 September 2014

See? I told you I’d have more photos for September than I had for August. ;)

If you are a fan of Gemini Springs, please consider becoming a Fan of Gemini Springs on Facebook!

Gemini Springs logo

September 2014 bird list, Gemini Springs

Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
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 egret sp. – Egretta/Bubulcus sp.
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Clapper Rail – Rallus crepitans
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Spotted Sandpiper – Actitis macularius
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Common Nighthawk – Chordeiles minor
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus
Empidonax sp. – Empidonax sp.
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
Eastern Kingbird – Tyrannus tyrannus
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Yellow-throated Vireo – Vireo flavifrons
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Purple Martin – Progne subis
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapilla
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Yellow Warbler – Setophaga petechia
Black-throated Blue Warbler – Setophaga caerulescens
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment

Birding Gemini Springs, August 2014

August was a funny month. I spent the first week or so in Illinois, helping my parents to move out of my childhood home. The next week or so was spent helping them get settled into living with us here in Florida, and getting their stuff settled into storage and in various spots in our house. I got to bird at Gemini Springs 3 times, where I recorded 31 species of bird (in August 2013 I managed 40 species in 7 visits). For some reason I took no photos. It was hot and I didn’t see anything particularly exciting. The September eBirder of the Month Challenge is to record at least 20 checklists from a patch, so I reckon I’ll have some more to say about birding at Gemini Springs in about a month (hopefully I won’t get sick of it like I did the last time they ran this particular challenge).

Gemini Springs, August 2014 month bird list
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment

Birding Gemini Springs, July 2014

Note: this post is back-dated

In July I birded at Gemini Springs 5 times and recorded 31 different species. It’s a bit pathetic, but it’s a great improvement over the measly 25 I saw during July 2013. The complete list from this month is at the end of this post.

In addition to the meager species count, I have a meager number of photos to share from July. Here we go…

Hibiscus sp.?
Hibiscus sp. | 14 July 2014

unknown fungus
unknown black fungus | 14 July 2014

Green Heron
Green Heron photoshop fun | 14 July 2014

Meadow Beauty sp.?
Meadow Beauty sp. | 14 July 2014

Southern Toad
Southern Toad | 16 July 2014

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 16 July 2014

Gemini Springs, July 2014 month bird list
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
white egret sp. – Egretta/Bubulcus sp.
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
American Coot – Fulica americana
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | 1 Comment

Release contrasts

Marine Science Center release sign

Sometimes a rehabilitated bird needs some encouragement at the time of release. He or she might seem to not realize s/he is free. Such was the case with three juvenile Brown Pelicans that were released back in November in Ponce Inlet. The birds were rehabbed by the Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary at the Marine Science Center. The public was invited to the release. And the public showed up!

crowd gathered for bird release

Arthur and I were there to witness the somewhat confused birds eventually make their way to freedom.

Just a couple of weeks later, I had the extreme honor to release a juvenile Bald Eagle that had been rehabilitated by the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. It was not the first Bald Eagle release I had seen, but the first one I was able to release personally. It was awesome!

Bald Eagle release
Almost ready to go!

Bald Eagle talons
Killer talons, under control AT ALL TIMES!

The procedure here it to gently toss the eagle after it has had a moment to adjust to the situation. It wears a hood during transport to the release site, which helps the bird relax (I think this bird fell asleep in my lap on the drive over).

sleepy Bald Eagle
Sleeping Bald Eagle selfie

Bald Eagle release
Matt demonstrates tossing motion

The hood is removed and after a beat the bird is released with a gentle upward-motion toss. This doesn’t really leave any room for hesitation!

Bald Eagle release
No more hood!

Bald Eagle release

released Bald Eagle
Good luck, eagle!!

And then there are the rehabilitated sea turtles that may also be a bit confused at first when they are released. Here’s Benjamin, a sub-adult Loggerhead, who needed a little course correction after he was set free at water’s edge.

You just never know with wild animals, rehabilitation, and release — and that’s how it should be. Releases are pretty much always magical, even when the releasee causes gasps with unexpected flight patterns, unforeseen hesitation and surprising directional choices! Apparently November 2013 was a big month for releases — all three in this blog post occurred in that month!

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in ACBOP, Florida, Not Birds, Rehabilitation | Leave a comment

Tiny nest

Last month, Arthur found a very small nest in a tangle of fallen Spanish moss on the ground in our back yard.

nest in Spanish moss

I took a couple of photos, hoping I would be able to identify the nest-builder. That’s my (fat but not freakishly large) index finger for scale. We don’t have a large number of small-sized breeding birds here in our yard, so my list of potential species was quite small.

Tufted Titmice are abundant in our yard all year, but they are cavity nesters. We have Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in our yard all year too, but they make a deep cup-like nest attached to a branch. We have Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here year-round, too, but this nest is way too big for those tiny dynamos (besides the shape and material mismatch).

My last guess turned out to be a good one, I think. We have Northern Parulas singing in our yard all spring long. All About Birds tells me that Northern Parula “nests are usually in a hanging clump of epiphytes like Spanish moss, beard moss, or lace lichen. That seems like a good match to me.

nest in Spanish moss

Arthur spotted the nest on June 23rd, and it probably fell that day or a day or two earlier. This is on the tail end of the nestling (April 7 to June 29) and fledgling (April 18 to July 4) stage for this species in Florida. There were a couple of broken eggshells in the nest when it fell. Hopefully the babies safely fledged before the nest was lost.

nest in Spanish moss

References:
Cornell’s All About Birds
Cornell’s Birds of North America Online (paid subscription)

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Florida, Yard Birds | 1 Comment

Birding Gemini Springs, June 2014

Yes, I skipped birding at Gemini Springs completely in May. For nearly the entire month I was out of the country. I did some birding elsewhere — hopefully some of that will make it onto the blog eventually.

During June I birded at Gemini Springs just 4 times (!!!), for a total of 37 species. Yikes. Huh, it’s not too shabby for me, apparently — I saw 39 in June 2013 and 27 in June 2012. I didn’t get any new or spectacular birds (duh) but I actually found two new (to me, not rare at all) butterflies.

Here are some photo highlights from birding at Gemini Springs during June 2014.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Red-shouldered Hawk | 02 June 2014

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)
Limpkin | 09 June 2014

warning sign
new sign, yay! | 09 June 2014

Immature Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Darling little loud begging confused clumsy goofball baby Blue Jay | 09 June 2014

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Calm cool collected adult Blue Jay | 16 June 2014

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
Variegated Fritillary (new to my life list) | 16 June 2014

nesting turtle
Freshwater turtle digging in the middle of a path — good luck, mama!| 16 June 2014

swimming turtle
Freshwater turtle swimming under the fishing pier | 16 June 2014

Raccoon [Procyon lotor]
Raccoon peek-a-boo | 30 June 2014

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Gray Hairstreak (new to my life list) | 30 June 2014

Marsh Rabbit  (Sylvilagus palustris)
Marsh Rabbit | 30 June 2014

If you are a fan of Gemini Springs, please consider becoming a Fan of Gemini Springs on Facebook!

Gemini Springs logo

Gemini Springs, June 2014 month bird list

Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Black-necked Stilt – Himantopus mexicanus
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Archilochus colubris
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Eastern Towhee – Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

Share the birds, share the love!
Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment
12345...102030...