During a trip to see Arthur’s family in March 2022, we visited the beach in Burgh-Haamstede, Zeeland. I was birding a bit and had my camera with me when I noticed a Eurasian Blackbird foraging close to a path by the parking lot. It was nicely out in the open so I took a few photos before I saw that the bird had a metal band. I tried to take more photos from different angles to capture the entire band number, but I was only able to see a partial number: …17357.
I reported the partial band number to NIOO Vogeltrekstation, the main banding organization in the Netherlands.
With the partial report and submitted photos, it was determined the bird was identifiable as L517357, and I received the banding information on the individual:
The blackbird was determined to be a first year bird when it was banded on October 18, 2018. The banding took place in the same area as where I found the bird 3 and a half years later, on the Kraaijensteinweg in Burgh-Haamstede! Eurasian Blackbirds are year-round residents in the Netherlands.
On January 1st I went birding at some beachside spots in Volusia County. I saw a few banded birds, including this Royal Tern who was loafing in a group of about 30 terns, 5 of which wore metal bands. This bird had a color band, making it easier to identify.
I submitted the sighting to the USGS and received the following certificate, which shows that the bird was banded as a chick in 2019 in Georgia. I love finding banded birds and finding out their history.
On January 1st I went birding at some beachside spots in Volusia County. I saw a few banded birds, including this Royal Tern who was loafing in a group of about 10 terns, 4 of which wore metal bands. This bird had a color band, making it easier to identify.
I submitted the sighting to the USGS and received the following certificate, which shows that the bird was banded as a chick in 2021 in Virginia. I love finding banded birds and finding out their history.
This year I started with the advantage of being overseas. I added my first seven birds in France and the Netherlands. And then I was almost out on January 8th! Our flight home from Amsterdam was to have a long layover in Dublin and I expected to get a final easy European bird there before the flight home. Our Aer Lingus flight was cancelled, though, and we were re-routed through Atlanta. I didn’t see any birds on the way to the airport in the morning (I honestly wasn’t looking). During our layover at Atlanta I stood by the terminal window hoping for a House Sparrow or Rock Dove; I scanned the skies for vultures but I saw nothing. We arrived in Orlando as the sun was going down. Arthur pointed out an Anhinga in a pond when we took the airport shuttle so I could continue the challenge.
The two best birds of January were both found at Douglas Stenstrom Bridge over the St. Johns River at the Seminole/Volusia County border. There had been reports of Snail Kites at this location. I usually bike out there so any birds listed will be on my Green List. Arthur really wanted to see the kites, though, so we drove out there on a Wednesday morning. We saw several Snail Kites, which were actually a life bird for both of us! Later in the week I made the journey over on my bike. I got the kites and my other targets for the location (Purple Gallinule, Eastern Meadowlark). As I was leaving I was absolutely shocked to see a Crested Caracara fly right over my head! This was my most-wanted Volusia Co. bird for some time!
I tried to get out and bird most days in January, but did take three birds from home for the month (Eastern Phoebe, Cedar Waxwing, Sandhill Crane).
I didn’t get out birding nearly as much, so a lot of these birds are from home (8!), incidentals during my Thursday volunteer shifts at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey (3), and other incidentals around town and doing other things. My best bird of the month was probably Painted Bunting. A pair of females visited our feeds for a few weeks; we didn’t have a male in the yard this spring.
I didn’t have a goal for the challenge this year going in, but sometime in March I thought it would be great if I could make it to the first week of May, when Arthur and I would visit Fort De Soto on the west side of the state. At this time I compiled a list of remaining “gimme” birds — species I could expect to see with some certainty at my local patch or in my back yard.
Most birds I picked up in March were from typical local birding outings to places like Gemini Springs (9 birds) and other spots I can bike to. March 27th it rained and stormed the entire day and it looked a bit dire for the game until I noticed a pair of Mourning Doves that took shelter in our back yard. My best bird was the Wilson’s Snipe I found in a local residential pond I biked by on my way home from the post office. There was also a Greater Yellowlegs and a Lesser Yellowlegs in the pond; all would have been pretty good to use in the game at that point. When I biked over the next day only the Greater Yellowlegs was there.
I started to visit Mead Garden on Thursdays after my volunteer shift at the Center for Birds of Prey. This is a local migrant trap and I hoped I could add some warblers and other songbirds to my list that I might not find locally. While the birding there was pretty good, for the first three weeks I didn’t end up with anything spectacular to use. In fact, one day after Mead Garden I went shopping at Aldi and ended up using a parking lot Brown-headed Cowbird for the day instead of anything I saw at Mead. My best bird of the month came the following week when I found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo lurking at Mead Garden after an extremely quiet and frustrating migrant-free walk. I was glad to get out of April using just two birds from home (Great Crested Flycatcher and Northern Cardinal).
I only lasted two weeks in May. My “gimme” list of birds was down to just 11 species. I was glad to have made it to Fort De Soto, where I added Magnificent Frigatebird, Black Tern, and Eastern Kingbird to my list. I finished with Eastern Towhee, virtually guaranteed and my target during my visit to Lyonia Preserve in Deltona.
I left the game with a lot of easy birds still available, but never chosen on the right day. I was somewhat shocked to discover I hadn’t used some very easy species like Red-tailed Hawk, Barn Swallow, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mottled Duck, and Eastern Bluebird. I know virtually guaranteed spots for some, like Barn Swallow and Eastern Bluebird, but I elected not to make a special drive just to stay in the game another day. I also always have a lot of really easy seabirds left that I never get to use since we don’t visit the coast all that often. So Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, and Willet also didn’t make the list this year. With a lot of extra driving around I could likely have stayed in the game for at least two more weeks without a lot of serious birding effort. Just driving.
As summer heats up here in central Florida I expect I’ll be birding a bit less. My running club has a summer challenge that should take up more of my free time (as long as I can motivate myself to get out of bed for these early morning runs!). I may keep a June Challenge (my version – all green and including heard-only) list. I will certainly keep up with Fantasy Birding as the year continues. I’m in a few games but I’m not in any to win — it’s just so much fun!
Soon after we moved into our new home in DeBary, Florida, I started collecting mediocre photos of some of the birds and animals that visited our yard, with grand ideas of making regular blog posts. Now the folder has been sitting untouched on my computer for almost 5 years and rather than delete them I’ve decided to make one dump post. Away, to the past!
Squirrel monching a mushroom | June 13 2013
Raccoon visits our back yard | June 19 2013
Squirrel on a hot day | June 19 2013
Northern Cardinal baby boom | June 19 2013
Our bare back yard (it’s a jungle now) | July 01 2013
Red-shouldered Hawk scoping for noms | July 01 2013
Red-shouldered Hawk with skink | July 01 2013
Squirrel monching on Queen Palm nuts — messy trees gone now | July 03 2013
Neighborhood Indian Peafowl in our front yard (RIP Fred) | August 08 2013
Skink | August 16 2013
Male Painted Bunting with molting female Northern Cardinal | August 18 2013
Yellow Warbler (first/last time a YEWA in our yard) | August 23 2013
Wahahahaha aw poor thing / Blue Jay ear | August 28 2013
Ruby-throated Hummingbird | August 28 2013
Green Anole | August 31 2013
Infrequent visitor – Yellow-throated Warbler | September 06 2013
You want ants? This is how you get ants. | September 10 2013
Red-shouldered Hawk with 1/2 skink | September 14 2013
Bathing Mourning Dove | October 11 2013
That time we had a gang of Indigo Buntings in the yard | October 21 2013
Monarchs monching milkweed | November 11 2013
I think this is a Luna Moth caterpillar | November 20 2013
Eastern Phoebe | November 24 2013
Little Brown Bat in the back yard batcave (dilapidated shed) | January 01 2014
Male House Finch | March 22 2014
That one time a Rose-breasted Grosbeak visited our yard | April 22 2014
Sandhill Cranes in the front yard | October 02 2014
I somewhat managed to balance birding with running during the first part of the year, but after a long road trip out west in August and September I had to focus on running and my time for birding really suffered.
In July I completed just 5 local bird checklists, visiting only Gemini Springs and the Lake Monroe Boat Ramp. I counted 24 species and took no photos of note.
In August we were away for just over half the month and I did no local birding at all.
In September we returned just following Hurricane Irma. I visited Gemini Springs, damaged and heavily flooded from the storm, one time. I counted 26 species. And a lot of happy little frogs.
Flooding at Gemini Springs following Hurricane Irma | 27 September 2017
Tiny tadfrog at Gemini Springs | 27 September 2017
In October I got excited to look for local migrants. I recorded 11 checklists for 71 species observed. Gemini Springs and other parks along the St. Johns remained heavily flooded. The frogs were still happy; I had to watch my footing during a bunch of morning runs.
Another tiny froglet at Gemini Springs | 04 October 2017
ALL OF THOSE LITTLE DOTS ARE TINY FROGS! | 04 October 2017
Florida Softshell Turtle in our neighborhood | 06 October 2017
OMG A BIRD! Northern Waterthrush at Mariner’s Cove | 08 October 2017
Green Treefrog that spent a couple of months on our living room window | 09 October 2017
Another happy frog at Gemini Springs | 16 October 2017
Debris from the storm lined roads in central Florida for weeks following the storm. River City Nature Park in DeBary was taken over by big steaming heaps of mulched debris.
Piles of mulched debris from Hurricane Irma at River City Nature Park | 20 October 2017
Bald Eagle at River City Nature Park | 20 October 2017
Gemini Springs was full of Prairie Warblers on 24 October 2017
In November and December I DIDN’T GO BIRDING AT ALL! Take away my birder card, I’m a fraud! I did run through Gemini Springs a few times. The water finally receded below the fishing pier and dam in December (!).
This grass field was under water for almost three months! Taken 04 December 2017
I saw a bird on a run! Red-shouldered Hawk on the Spring-to-spring Trail on 09 December 2017
Bring on 2018! I hope for a better balance between birding and running going forward. We’ll see. First — I’m Dopey!
In June I did my own version of the Green Challenge. Like the standard challenge dictates, I was looking for birds in a single county. I allowed heard-only birds on my list though, and I only listed “green” birds. I had hoped to find 80 species, but I fell short, tallying 77 — the same total I had for this challenge in 2015 (the last time I tried). The complete list is at the end of this post.
Here are some photo highlights from the month.
Red-shouldered Hawk at Audubon Park | 05 June 2017
Sandhill Cranes at Audubon Park | 05 June 2017
I completed 29 checklists during the month. I went to 14 different local birding spots, plus counted birds at home and as I was biking in several locations. I ended up biking over 165 miles.
Limpkin at Lake Monroe Park | 08 June 2017
Eastern Bluebird at Quail Lakes Powerline Trails | 10 June 2017
On the 10th I went to the Quail Lakes Powerline Trails to look for a few target species: Eastern Bluebird; Eastern Towhee; Red-headed Woodpecker; Common Ground-Dove; Florida Scrub-Jay; and Northern Bobwhite. I found all of them, but the bobwhite and scrub-jay were extremely frustratingly heard-only. I stood around for a half hour waiting for a jay to pop up but I didn’t have any luck. What a ridiculous species to record as heard-only. As a consolation I added Killdeer, Northern Flicker, and Brown Thrasher here too.
Eastern Towhee at Quail Lakes Powerline Trails | 10 June 2017
bear tracks at Quail Lakes Powerline Trails | 10 June 2017
Red-headed Woodpecker at Quail Lakes Powerline Trails | 10 June 2017
Six-lined Racerunner at Quail Lakes Powerline Trails | 10 June 2017
The best finds of the month were Roseate Spoonbill and Pied-billed Grebe. A birding friend tipped me off on the spoonbill and I headed out on my bike just minutes later, with sunset fast approaching. I hadn’t seen a “green” Roseate Spoonbill for years, but the grebe was a big surprise — I’ve NEVER had one in June before. Purple Gallinule, Mottled Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Yellow-throated Vireo were all also new green birds for June listing. I was also happy to find Least Bittern at Lake Monroe Boat Ramp, and Purple Martin & Cooper’s Hawk at Gemini Springs.
Purple Gallinule at Lake Monroe Conservation Area | 13 June 2017
Happy birder at Mariner’s Cove after finding a Yellow-billed Cuckoo | 18 June 2017
Little Blue Heron at Gemini Springs | 20 June 2017
Common Ground-Dove at Dewey Boster Park | 26 June 2017
Before the month began I made a list of past “green” June birds as well as some targets I thought I might have a chance to find. There were some big misses. Wood Stork, American Coot, and Wood Duck shouldn’t have been too hard, but they evaded me. If I had gone birding at a few spots I ended up skipping, I could have probably added Bachman’s Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat. I kept hearing Common Nighthawks on early morning runs but I drove to those. Each time I biked out after dark or before sunrise I struck out.
Eastern Cottontail at Dewey Boster Park | 26 June 2017
Marsh Rabbits at Gemini Springs | 27 June 2017
Great Egret at Gemini Springs | 27 June 2017
Green Heron at Gemini Springs | 27 June 2017
That’s it for June! In July I decided to have a running streak (where I ran at least a mile a day and ended up with 112+ total miles run, my first 100+ month!) so I didn’t get to bird too much.
In May I had 12 checklists to contribute to my 2017 Green Birding List. I recorded 59 species total and added five new for the year (Wood Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Bobolink, Least Sandpiper, and Northern Bobwhite). In May 2015 I had 69 species. The complete list for this year is at the end of this post.
Here are some photographic (mostly non-bird) highlights from the month.
Yellow Rat Snake at Gemini Springs | 01 May 2017
Little Blue Heron (missing foot) at Lake Monroe Park | 02 May 2017
Northern Cardinal at Gemini Springs | 09 May 2017
Bald Eagle at Trout Lake | 16 May 2017
I biked to Trout Lake 4 times looking for Solitary Sandpipers to add to my list, but didn’t have any luck. I did find one the only time I drove there. Otherwise I had four nice visits to the wetland as it progressively dried up throughout the month.
Sandhill Cranes at Trout Lake | 16 May 2017
Black Racer at Gemini Springs | 30 May 2017
Green Anole at Gemini Springs | 30 May 2017
Raccoon family at Gemini Springs | 30 May 2017
Green Birding List for May 2017
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
I did a bunch of running throughout the month to prepare for participating in all three races during the Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend at Disney World. Some birds were recorded on the run. And as the photos show, I came across more photogenic reptiles than birds, apparently.
Here are some photographic highlights from the month.
On April 4th I did a long 12 mile run along the East Regional Rail Trail in Enterprise and Deltona. I saw a Ringneck Snake in the middle of the trail. I gave it a poke to see if it was still alive and when it wiggled I picked it up and set it off the path.
Ringneck Snake on the East Regional Rail Trail in Deltona, 4 April 2017
Luna Moth caterpillar on the East Regional Rail Trail, 4 April 2017
Later on the same run, crossing Providence on the way back, I saw a roadkill squirrel in the middle of the road and some Black Vultures loitering around. I picked up the squirrel and tossed it off the road so they wouldn’t get hit by passing cars. Thornby Park was close by so I ran over to wash my hands before continuing the run.
Black Vultures with roadkill squirrel by the East Regional Rail Trail in Deltona, 4 April 2017
Prairie Warbler at Gemini Springs, 5 April 2017
The next day at Gemini Springs I had another close encounter with a snake. Again I wondered if the snake was still living before I picked it up and moved it off the path in the park.
Peninsula Ribbon Snake at Gemini Springs, 5 April 2017
Full moon at Gemini Springs, 10 April 2017
American Alligator at Gemini Springs, 12 April 2017
Cooper’s Hawk at DeBary Hall, 12 April 2017
American Alligator at Gemini Springs, 27 April 2017
Green Birding List for April 2017
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
For March 2017 I recorded 84 species over 28 checklists for my Green Birding List. Last time I kept a Green List for March was in 2015, when I recorded 97 species (whoa).
Here are some photo highlights…
Gray Catbird at Audubon Park, 01 March 2017
Northern Mockingbird at Audubon Park, 01 March 2017
Sandhill Cranes at Audubon Park, 01 March 2017
Yellow-rumped Warbler at Gemini Springs, 07 March 2017
Barred Owl at Gemini Springs, 11 March 2017
On March 11 I had a long outing at Gemini Springs. I watched this deer for a while and snapped some photos when she seemed to be a bit relaxed. After she bounded off I waited for a few moments to see if she had any companions. When I finally started walking again another deer came bounding out and followed her off the path. He had a small rack. Later, as I passed the area where they had crossed, I looked over to see if I could spot them in the woods. The female was nuzzling the male and it was a very sweet scene. Aww.
White-tailed Deer at Gemini Springs, 11 March 2017
Several times during the month I headed to Gemini Springs in the evening to try to find a better bird for Bird-a-Day (meaning something I can’t expect to find in the backyard). On March 14th I had a quick spin around the park (and used Sora for my B-a-D) and was delighted to find an otter frolicking around the bayou. I’ve only seen an otter at the park one other time.
North American River Otter at Gemini Springs, 14 March 2017
American Alligator at Gemini Springs, 15 March 2017
On March 24th I took the long bike trek out to the pedestrian bridge over 415 in Osteen over the St. Johns to look for Eastern Meadowlarks and Purple Gallinule. I found several singing meadowlarks and three gallinules. I also got my FOY BIGBY Barn Swallows.
Eastern Meadowlark at Lake Monroe Conservation Area, 24 March 2017
Purple Gallinule at Lake Monroe Conservation Area, 24 March 2017
Savannah Sparrow at Lake Monroe Conservation Area, 24 March 2017
Northern Cardinal at Gemini Springs, 24 March 2017
Gray Catbird at Gemini Springs, 24 March 2017
Green Birding List for March 2017
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck – Dendrocygna autumnalis
Muscovy Duck – Cairina moschata
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
Hooded Merganser – Lophodytes cucullatus
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
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
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
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
Purple Gallinule – Porphyrio martinicus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Sandhill Crane – Antigone canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
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
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
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
Purple Martin – Progne subis
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
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
Hermit Thrush – Catharus guttatus
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
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
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
Eastern Meadowlark – Sturnella magna
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis
House Sparrow – Passer domesticus