Category Archives: Bird Photography Weekly

Purple Sandpiper at Lighthouse Point Park

At the end of March, Arthur and I took a day off to do some birding at a few spots in Volusia County. Lately I’ve been really interested in increasing my home county list, so I trolled eBird for birds missing from my year list. I determined our route based on a rather long wishlist of needed birds.

Our first stop was a hotspot I’d never been to before: Longleaf Pine Preserve outside of DeLand. Here I had a target list of way too many birds. We had a very nice 6 mile hike where we recorded a total of 15 (!) species, only one of which was on my target list. We first heard and then had very nice looks at a male Bachman’s Sparrow singing in typical habitat for this species. This one target was also the only potential lifer we expected here, so, you know, mission accomplished!

Next we stopped at Port Orange Causeway Park, located under Dunlawton Avenue where it crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. Part of the park looks over the Port Orange Sanctuary, though birds can be viewed from all over this eBird hotspot. My two targets here were American Oystercatcher and Reddish Egret; we found both. After this short visit we headed to our final destination for the day, to search for the subject of this blog post.

Lighthouse Point Park is located in Ponce Inlet, close to the lighthouse, natch. The lighthouse isn’t in the park, though, as signs at the park entrance take great pains to inform all visitors. Anyway, the beautiful beach and clear water attracts families and sunbathers, and, during our visit, lots of surfers. I had just one target species here: Purple Sandpiper.

Purple Sandpiper

We found an active bird as we walked along the jetty. This was not a life bird, but it was new to my U.S. list.

Purple Sandpiper

Previously we had seen Purple Sandpipers along a different jetty on the other side of the Atlantic, at IJmuiden.

Purple Sandpiper

I’ve submitted this post to the current Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment

Snowy on the beach

I see Snowy Egrets at my local patch all the time, but until earlier this month, I’d never seen one at the beach. Arthur and I were relaxing on New Smyrna Beach on a cool afternoon when we noticed a large white bird heading our way along the waterline. It was hunting, successfully, small fish as it proceeded down the beach. I took a few photos from where we sat; later Arthur got a bit closer for some action shots and a short video. Its hunting style looked a bit frantic, but it was very successful!

Snowy Egret | posing

Snowy Egret | caught!

Snowy Egret | wavy
photo by Arthur de Wolf

Snowy Egret | action

Snowy Egret | intent
photo by Arthur de Wolf

Snowy Egret | spread
photo by Arthur de Wolf


video by Arthur de Wolf

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Behavior, Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Volusia Birding | 1 Comment

Great Blue Heron shapes

Great Blue Herons are year-round residents here in central Florida, and they are extremely common at my local patch, Gemini Springs Park. When I see them they are typically alone, and rather still. Usually they seem to be stoic hunters, watching and waiting. This bird I saw last week, however, was rather active. It was hunting in the streaming water running through the dam.

GBHE4

GBHE3

GBHE2

GBHE1

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Behavior, Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Gemini Springs, Volusia Birding | 1 Comment

Willets in the mist

Arthur and I spent Christmas afternoon at Canaveral National Seashore, where we shared the beach with Willets (and little else).

Willet01

Willet02

Willet03

Willet04

Willet05

Willet06

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Florida | 1 Comment

Testing a new camera with a Pileated Woodpecker

Arthur and I went to Gemini Springs yesterday so I could take some test shots with my new camera, a Canon SX40 HS. As we began walking one of the nature paths, I asked Arthur to find me a Pileated Woodpecker. He did.

Pileated Woodpecker

I think the pictures are acceptable, especially considering the distance I was from the bird and the less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

It takes HD video, too.

This is the fifth (!!) super-zoom point-and-shoot camera I’ve tried since April 2010 (to replace a Canon S3IS). This may finally be THE ONE. (These were not: Canon SX20IS [APR 2010]; Nikon Coolpix P100 [MAY 2010]; Fuji Finepix S200EXR [MAY 2011]; Nikon Coolpix P500 [MAY 2011]).

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Gemini Springs, Volusia Birding | 2 Comments

Confiding Ruddy Turnstone

Birding and blogging have taken a back seat for a couple of weeks as Arthur and I host his family here in central Florida. We are having a blast visiting all the touristy places as well as showing off the natural beauty of our neighborhood and county. Visiting Daytona Beach last week, we watched Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls soaring over the ocean. A few Sanderlings scooted about at the shoreline, along with one bold Ruddy Turnstone.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstones are relatively cosmopolitan, breeding across northern Europe, Russia, Canada, and Alaska. They winter along coastal South America and Africa, as well as parts of Australasia. In Florida, this species may occur all year, though birds that remain during the summer aren’t breeders.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

eBird tells me I first recorded Ruddy Turnstone on my life list in January 2007 in the Gambia. We often saw this species along the North Sea in the Netherlands, especially when we went birding at Zuidpier in IJmuiden.

Ruddy Turnstone

We haven’t birded the coast very often in Florida since we moved here, and indeed this was the first Ruddy Turnstone I’ve seen since our scouting visit back in April.

Ruddy Turnstone

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Volusia Birding | 3 Comments

Curious Turkey Vulture

Arthur and I paid a short visit to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in mid-September. Driving along Biolab Road, we came across several Turkey and Black Vultures loafing on and around the gravel roadway. We slowed down to have a look at this Turkey Vulture perched in a low tree.

Turkey Vulture

I love Turkey Vultures. Vultures get a bad rap for their looks and their habits, which is really unfortunate. They are beautiful, big and charismatic birds. I love how they are so social – always soaring together, or sharing a meal in relative peace.

Turkey Vulture

Flint Creek has one magnificent Turkey Vulture among their education birds, a male named Turkey, Jr (or just Junior). I only tried to handle this bird one time, and he apparently didn’t approve of my looks or habits, because he bit me not once but twice (and left a lovely scar on my left hand). I didn’t attempt to handle him again. To my great chagrin, all of the new handlers at Flint Creek – who graduated earlier this year from the Raptor Handler Internship where I assisted – are in love with Junior, and he seems to be in love with them, too. Yes, they handle him with ease and mutual respect. Of course I’m happy for Junior and the volunteers and especially for FCWR. But dang, Junior, what did you have against me?!

Turkey Vulture

Luckily I can still enjoy Turkey Vultures like this one – from afar. They’ll be with us here in central Florida all year, unlike the northern Illinois birds we only saw during the warmer months. And if they don’t like me, I’ll just get the cold shoulder. No more scars!

Turkey Vulture

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, FCWR, Florida, MINWR | 2 Comments

Preening Roseate Spoonbill

Earlier this month Arthur and I visited Viera Wetlands and the nearby Click Ponds. I had read a lot about the Click Ponds this summer, especially since they hosted some great birds in July and August, but we couldn’t get out there until September 8th. One of our best birds was a very cooperative Roseate Spoonbill, an individual that gave us our best looks ever of this magnificent species. We used our car as a blind and watched the bird preen, feed, and loaf around.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

After a marathon preening session the bird fed in the shallow water. It’s always fun to watch spoonbills feed in their unique way. They move their heads back and forth with their long bills in the water; when something to eat comes in contact with the bill – snap!

Roseate Spoonbill

And later it was time for even more preening. 🙂

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Behavior, Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Viera Wetlands | 3 Comments

BPW: Dramatic Heron

The Port Orange Wildlife Sanctuary (which has an interesting lost-in-history story) is a chain of islands on the main channel of the Intercoastal Waterway. Arthur and I paid a short visit on our way home from the Marine Science Center. We spied this Green Heron flying over the parking lot and landing among some reeds in a tiny pond between the asphalt and the channel.

Green Heron

Green Heron

We spent just a few moments watching it watch the water, and I snapped a few pictures. I thought putting a few together would make a funny animated GIF. 🙂

Incidentally, I’ve posted about Green Herons twice before: Green Herons out and about and BPW: Green Heron, both from 2009.

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Volusia Birding | 3 Comments

BPW: Red-shouldered Hawk with prey

Last Thursday Arthur and I visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out their International Vulture Awareness Day activities. We were not disappointed!

While having a look at another part of the park, we noticed a hawk swoop into a tree. Like all of my readers, I’m sure, our natural instinct is to avoid disturbing birds as much as possible while observing them. So at first I didn’t move and watched the bird for a moment through the branches. This was our view.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Now, that wasn’t a bad spot from which to admire a beautiful bird of prey, but then we realized that the hawk had perched itself directly above a large crowd of excited children. The kids were excited to meet a Disney character; we were excited to watch this gorgeous hawk in action! We walked around to have a better view and took a few more photos, and a short video.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

The prey looks to be some kind of small lizard, and the favored part seems to have been the head. Here’s a close-up of the meal before the bird really dug in. Yum!

Red-shouldered Hawk prey

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Disney, Florida | 2 Comments
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