Green Birding Southwest Volusia County, 2nd Half 2017

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.

Gemini Springs flooding
Flooding at Gemini Springs following Hurricane Irma | 27 September 2017

tadfrog at Gemini Springs
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.

tiny frog
Another tiny froglet at Gemini Springs | 04 October 2017

tiny frogs everywhere at Gemini Springs

Florida Softshell
Florida Softshell Turtle in our neighborhood | 06 October 2017

Northern Waterthrush at Mariner's Cove
OMG A BIRD! Northern Waterthrush at Mariner’s Cove | 08 October 2017

Green Treefrog on our house
Green Treefrog that spent a couple of months on our living room window | 09 October 2017

frog sp at Gemini Springs
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.

Irma debris mulch at River City Nature Park
Piles of mulched debris from Hurricane Irma at River City Nature Park | 20 October 2017

Bald Eagle at River City Nature Park
Bald Eagle at River City Nature Park | 20 October 2017

Prairie Warbler
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 (!).

flood waters finally recede at Gemini Springs
This grass field was under water for almost three months! Taken 04 December 2017

running and not birding
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!

Share the birds, share the love!
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2 Responses to Green Birding Southwest Volusia County, 2nd Half 2017

  1. LynnErla says:

    Hello again, Good to hear about your birding and running and travel adventures for the second half of 2017. I truly enjoy your blog. One of my many NewYearResolutions (NYRs) is to visit my favorite blogs on a regular basis.
    I visited my parents in Daytona Beach/Port Orange Dec 22-29. I wasn’t doing “green birding”; in fact, I used more gas while down in Florida than the gas I used to GET to Florida from Raleigh, NC! I visited lots of places, including Gemini Springs, Audubon Park, Port Orange Causeway Park (under the Dunlawton Bridge), and Woodruff NWR (I never see the lake so I don’t include “Lake” in Woodruff’s name). I found a couple of new species for my Volusia County Life List so the list is up to 198 bird species. I rank 15th on ebird for Volusia, which is pretty good for someone who lives in North Carolina!
    I knew Irma had damaged a lot of places but by the time I got there in late December,most places were back to normal. Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive opened the day I got to Florida (closed since Irma!). I visited it 12/23, finding 63 species including a female Vermilion Flycatcher. A photographer found the bird and showed me a photo on her camera and said “Can you tell me what this is, please?” I looked at that little flycatcher photo and pleasantly replied “Why, that’s a Vermilion Flycatcher….. where did you find that?” What I was thinking was “SHOW! ME! THAT! BIRD! NOW!!!!!”
    Don’t worry, she described the spot (near the Crazy U) and not only did I find it, but I photographed it and showed it through my scope to a half-dozen other birders.
    I also visited the Shiloh Marsh Road, which is a two-mile drive and then a 1 1/2- mile walk south along a peninsula (then back again). I walked the shell road until I reached the Volusia County line (my ebird app helped me) then turned around to head back. Along that road I found about 60 species(!) This hotspot in the northern edge of Merritt Island NWR and in the southern tip of Volusia County, so it is really worth a trip if you are looking for Volusia County birds. I added Saltmarsh Sparrow and American Avocet while visiting that road.
    I had a good trip to Florida, getting about 135 bird species and enjoying the weather. The cloudy/foggy conditions at the end of the week nixed my plan to find more wintering sparrows (they respond best on sunny days) but overall, it was very enjoyable.

    And you always lament the birds that you miss: the Long-tailed Duck and the Ash-throated Flycatcher at Apopka (I’ve seen them before, but would be nice to get them in 2017), Black-crowned Night-heron (oddly enough, I found TWO Yellow-Crowned Night-herons when I stopped at the Wilbur Boathouse on my way to Lighthouse Point Park), and Canvasback ducks have a habit of avoiding me wherever I go!

    Well, thanks again for the blog entry, and looking forward to hearing your adventures in 2018. I hope to be back to FL soon to see my parents and bird like crazy!
    See our Wake Audubon group on!

  2. LynnErla Beegle says:

    Hi again Amy,
    Thanks for the descriptions of storm damage. I was only in Volusia the last week of Dec 2017 and most of the damage was a bad memory by then.

    I visited Volusia and my parents the week of May19-26. I birded alone every morning plus a couple of brief evening birdwalks. Sorry, I should have let you know ahead of time. Maybe you could have joined,e.

    I was thwarted by bad weather the first four days, so my birdlists for Gemini,Woodruff werepaltry. Even Apopka was a struggle for the rainpoured in when my windows were open, and with them shut, I couldn’t see anything!
    Still, I managed to see about 100 species this vacation week in Volusia … despite being a few weeks late for migration.

    I also saw three new birds for my Volusia County Life List: Purple Gallinule (Hontoon), White-rumpled Sandpiper ( Lighthouse Poibt), and Magnificent Frigatebird ;POCauseway CP). That brings me to 201 species, I think, for Volusia County.

    I hope you will post again soon about your birding. I have a question about a recent checklist you made. It is marked incidental and starts at 5 am or so. But a lot of the birds listed would not be active so long before dawn. So is the time wrong, or did they get active later on?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    I head home tomorrow. Godspeed


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