My visitors came from *where* in December 2013?!?!

Below are a few notable search terms that brought visitors to this site during December 2013. You can see previous editions of this monthly post here. With this entry, the third year-long installment (prior years being 2009 and 2011) of this blog series concludes. The following search terms are listed without comment.

pictures of baby barred owls

can squirrels have oranges

SNAKES IN VOLUSIA COUNTY FL

snowy owl sightings 2013 illinois

types of wild birds found in Volusia county

funny google auto vomplete

Happy 2014 and GOOD BIRDING to all!

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CBC highs & lows

If you ever want to feel really good about your skills as a birder, I highly recommend spending a day working a suburban Christmas Bird Count (CBC) route with two non-birders. That’s what I did last Saturday and I had a blast with two neat ladies who volunteered after reading about the Christmas Bird Count in the local newspaper.

Prior to last week I had only participated in one CBC. A couple of weeks ago I looked at the map of CBC circles and was surprised to see that our house is within the circle of the Wekiva River CBC, and so is Gemini Springs. Score! Or so I thought. I contacted the compiler and hoped hard for assignment at my local patch. Instead, I was asked to help in area 14, a segment that had two volunteers lined up but could use a third pair of eyes, hopefully with some birding experience. So that’s where I went.

Area 14, mostly in the cities of Lake Mary and Longwood, is almost completely developed with suburban homes and shopping centers. It is an area with which I was (and still am) basically not familiar, but that didn’t matter. My partners in crime, Laurie and Anne, were driver and navigator and came equipped with intimate knowledge of the area. I came with my scope and my modest birding skills. We hit retention ponds, city parks, and store parking lots, looking for birds at every stop. It’s kind of neat how pointing up in the sky at a bunch of tiny dots and shouting out “30 Cedar Waxwings flying overhead!” seems a bit like magic to non-birders. I found specks across ponds in my scope and ID’d them, sharing the view with Laurie and Anne. Laurie kept tally. They both got us access to several ponds that were completely surrounded by homes — by visiting their friends or by boldly making new ones, on the spot. We stepped into a lot of backyards during our day.

At one of our first stops we came across more Black-bellied Whistling Ducks than I had ever seen in one place before. Our final count there was 87 birds. They were flying around, making their adorable chirping calls, sparring, foraging, and loafing around. I am pretty sure they were lifers for Laurie and Anne. We stayed here for while, because new birds kept coming into view every time I scanned the water. Wood Ducks multiplied before our eyes. My first of fall American White Pelican flew over. A Belted Kingfisher rattled. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers buzzed in the trees around us.

At each small body of water we tallied a few birds and then moved on. We stopped briefly at Big Tree Park, where last year many tears were shed over the death-by-arson of The Senator. How can you not cry over the destruction of a living thing that has stood on our planet for at least 3,400 years? It was awful to see the remains. We picked up a heard-only American Kestrel here, and not much else.

We ended up with around 52 species (I don’t have the final tally) for our part. In the evening we met at compiler Jay’s house for dinner and an informal tally of species for the circle.

Now, if you ever want to feel crappy about your skills as a birder, all you have to do is receive an eBird county needs alert for your local patch. Containing several birds that you’ve never observed at said patch. Ugh.

The group that covered Gemini Springs for the CBC found 60+ species, including Virginia Rail, King Rail, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark. I know others have seen EAME at Gemini Springs. In fact, every time I visit a certain area of the park I think to myself, there should be meadowlarks here. But I’ve never seen one or heard one, and I’ve certainly been listening. Ugh. The rails aren’t a huge surprise to me but I’ve never heard them either. But the Grasshopper Sparrow… All I can say is &#%!@?!

Fortunately, as we all know, birders are AWESOME people as a general rule. So when I sheepishly emailed the eBird offender in a hopefully not-too-stalker-like-fashion (since we don’t actually know each other), he kindly gave me detailed intel on the location of all desired species. The search is on. And I’m looking forward to the Daytona Beach CBC on December 28th. Hopefully I’ll get to stay in Volusia County this time. ๐Ÿ˜€

Laurie, Amy, Anne
Laurie, me and Anne after a day of CBCing

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My visitors came from *where* in November 2013?!?!

November was cloudy and drab here in Florida. Even my blog stats weren’t all that interesting. Sigh. Here are some statcounter finds from the month that was.

I love it when searches like gemini springs birding debary and bird watching gemini springs debary bring people here. I just hope they bring birders to the park itself! Gemini Springs is an eBird hotspot so a good place to look for information on birdlife in the park would be the eBird Hotspot Details.

Speaking of Gemini Springs, the search gemni springs alligator attack got my heart racing just a little bit. However, my own search revealed nothing of note.

The search my dog catches birds translate in mandarin is somewhat distubring, and it seems strange they’d end up on my blog rather than here.

I hope the person searching for songbird that act like bird of prey found their quarry, likely the “butcherbird” or species of shrike.

Finally, here’s one silly spelling “variation” that made me giggle this month: when do balled eagles migrate to Starved Rock, IL.

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Birding Gemini Springs, November 2013

In November I birded at Gemini Springs 9 times, finding 62 different species of bird. Last year I saw 57 species in 6 outings and in 2011 I had 48 species in 6 outings. This year I didn’t add anything to my all-time bird list, but I did add a new butterfly and a new mammal. The complete bird list is at the end of this post.

November seemed kind of dreary, and according to WeatherSpark, indeed it was: “the cloudiest month of the last 12 months was November, with 77% of days being more cloudy than clear. The longest spell of cloudy weather was from November 12 to November 23, constituting 12 consecutive days that were cloudier than they were clear.” So I wasn’t imagining it! We also seemed to have more rainfall than usual for this time of year.

Despite my doldrums (did I mention that I was also sick for over a week early in the month?), migration continued and birds and other wildlife were to be found living their lives at my dear local patch. Here are some photographic highlights from last month’s birding at Gemini Springs.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule | 04-NOV-13

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe | 06-NOV-13

Painted Bunting
lousy photo, nice bird: Painted Bunting | 06-NOV-13

path
Gemini Springs path | 06-NOV-13

Zebra Longwings
Zebra Longwings | 06-NOV-13

In addition to a plethora of Zebra Longwings, on November 6th I saw more dragonflies than I have ever seen at the park. If you make the following video full-screen you can better see the abundance:


dragonflies | 06-NOV-13

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant | 12-NOV-13

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron | 12-NOV-13

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler in its namesake habitat | 12-NOV-13

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 12-NOV-13

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird on a rare “blue” day | 18-NOV-13

Ceraunus Blue
Ceraunus Blue, new to my life list | 18-NOV-13

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove against some more blue | 18-NOV-13

Pearl Crescent
Pearl Crescent | 18-NOV-13

unknown raided eggs
raided nest | 22-NOV-13

unknown fluff
sneeze machine | 24-NOV-13

unknown fungus
fungus, ID unknown | 24-NOV-13

On November 24th I heard a sound I did not recognize coming from the vegetation between a mowed path and the bayou. I looked for the source but could not find it; I guessed it was a frog. Later along the same path I heard the same call again. It sounded very close so I peered into the vegetation and saw a snake with a frog in its mouth. The cry I heard was coming from the distressed (!!) frog. I tried to take some photos but it was hard to get a clear line of sight to the un/fortunate action. In the below photo you can see the frog, its back legs in the snake’s extremely widely opened mouth. The frog’s eye is in the bottom quarter of the frame, about center. The head of the snake is in the top quarter of the frame, also near the center of the photo. Its mouth is open VERY wide. I think it’s a Peninsula Ribbon Snake. The doomed frog is a Southern Leopard Frog, which you can kind of tell from the photo but I was able to confirm by its distress call, a recording of which I found on YouTube. I heard the same cry in two different spots — it seems November 24th was a bad day for Southern Leopard Frogs at Gemini Springs. Click on the photo to see it bigger on Flickr. There I have also pointed out the frog and snake if you have trouble seeing them here.

snake with frog
Peninsula Ribbon Snake (?) with Southern Leopard Frog | 24-NOV-13

Gemini Springs
a spring (1 of 2, natch) | 27-NOV-13

American Alligator
American Alligator | 30-NOV-13

Grey Catbird
Grey Catbird | 30-NOV-13

On November 30th I saw a new mammal at Gemini Springs — a North American River Otter! A couple of Carolina Wrens were going crazy close to the spot where I found the frog-eating snake just days earlier. I paused to see what had their panties in a bunch and was surprised to see a large brown mass of something lurking on the ground in the dense foliage. By the time I realized it was an otter, it started to move off. But as I stood still, the otter’s curiosity seemed to get the better of it, because it turned around and looked at me for a full minute. The below photo is the best I could manage between all the twigs. Can you see the otter looking at me? If you need help, click on the picture to see it larger and tagged on Flickr.

North American River Otter
North American River Otter | 30-NOV-13

That’s it! Here’s hoping for sunnier skies in December. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gemini Springs bird list, November 2013

Hooded Merganser – Lophodytes cucullatus
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
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
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
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
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
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
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
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
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
Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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My visitors came from *where* in October 2013?!?!

This blog had lots of visitors in October (yay!), but not too many notable searches came up in my Statcounter (boo!). Here’s what’s what:

Someone was looking for snakes in volusia county. My blog is by no means definitive but I am certainly on the lookout for snakes all. the. time. I just love them. ๐Ÿ™‚ See my herp life list including snakes here. To the person looking for information on gemini springs snakes, you should really like the following page: Fans of Gemini Springs Park. You will love the album “Snakes of Gemini Springs”!

Someone wondered, will cardinal feed cowbird babies? The answer is yes, Northern Cardinals care for Brown-headed Cowbird “offspring”. Cowbirds are apparently found in central Florida throughout the year, but I have only seen them during the winter months since we moved here (and I’m still waiting to see my FOF BHCO). Someone else wondered what to feed a baby cowbird. To which I say NO.

Someone was looking for what an e-bird kyosk cost. If they had known how to spell kiosk I think they would have found better intel: eBird Trail Tracker.

Finally, someone searched for beatiful barred owl. They are all beautiful, truly, but an individual bird very dear to me, sweet sweet Meepy, recently left this earth. My first owl love will always have a very special place in my heart. Fly free, Meeps.

Meepy and me

Meepy the Barred Owl

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Birding Gemini Springs, October 2013

Last month I visited Gemini Springs nine times, finding 57 different species of bird. Last year we spent most of the month out of state so I have no checklists from Gemini Springs for October 2012. The complete 2013 list is at the end of this post.

One species, Eastern Kingbird, was new for my year list. Returning winter visitors arrived, including Eastern Phoebes, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Swamp Sparrows, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I also saw an adult Red-headed Woodpecker, my first at the park since March. I’m still looking for my First of Fall Yellow-rumped Warblers (already seen by others at Gemini Springs), Chipping Sparrows, American Goldfinches and American Robins.

Here are some photographic highlights from October 2013.

Southern Leopard Frog
Southern Leopard Frog | 01-OCT-13

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron | 01-OCT-13

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat | 04-OCT-13

Green Anole
Green Anole | 04-OCT-13

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike | 04-OCT-13

pollinator
pollinator | 04-OCT-13

On October 9th I took a trail I don’t often take. It’s a mowed path but it had not been cut for some time, and there were deep grooves of mud throughout. As I walked on, the path got more and more overgrown and I wished I hadn’t gone the way I had. It looked like rain and I was afraid I would have to do some serious bushwhacking — in sandals and shorts — to get back to pavement. I was rewarded with a nice aerial dance by our breeding pair of Bald Eagles soaring above me, the female being chased by her mate.

ritual
Bald Eagle pair | 09-OCT-13

And then I found a lifer insect smiling up at me. Worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bold Jumping Spider
Bold Jumping Spider | 09-OCT-13

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe | 11-OCT-13

Southern Black Racer
Sunning Southern Black Racer | 11-OCT-13

kayaking
We finally got our kayaks in the water | 14-OCT-13

Black-and-white Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler | 16-OCT-13

Peninsula Cooter
Peninsula Cooter | 21-OCT-13

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

Gemini Springs logo

October 2013 bird list, Gemini Springs

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
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
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
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Archilochus colubris
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-headed Woodpecker – Melanerpes erythrocephalus
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
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Eastern Kingbird – Tyrannus tyrannus
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
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
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
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
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

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Limpkin show

It took me a long time to find my FOY (First Of Year) Limpkin this year. Just a couple of days later I spent some time watching an individual at Gemini Springs foraging for snails by the dam. All of the photos in this post were taken at Gemini Springs on April 29, 2013.

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

It was interesting to see how much it work it was to get the snail out of the shell. You can see the Limpkin banging on the snail and finally gulping down its prize in the video below.

Though I haven’t seen many Limpkins this year, I know this species is often a target for out-of-state birders visiting Florida. I do feel lucky that nearly every time I go out birding locally, there is a chance I could see a Limpkin.

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Birding Gemini Springs, September 2013

I birded Gemini Springs 10 times in September, tallying 56 species. Last September I only saw 43 species in 9 trips. New for the year were Eastern Wood-Pewee, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Ovenbird, and Baltimore Oriole. The complete list is at the end of this post.

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

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule chick | 02 September 2013

Florida Box Turtle
Florida Box Turtle | 06 September 2013

golden orb weaver sp
Golden Orb Weaver sp | 06 September 2013

With the cooler fall weather, Arthur and I biked the Spring-to-spring Trail a few evenings over the last month. On September 8th, we came across a runner who had stopped to photograph something off the path – a BOBCAT! Our first in the park (which is adjacent to the trail) and a new BIGBY species. Woo hoo!

Bobcat
Bobcat | 08 September 2013

Naturally, we saw (but did not photograph) another one just two days later. ๐Ÿ˜‰

morning at Gemini Springs
crisp morning | 10 September 2013

During another evening ride a few days later, we saw a family of feral pigs in the same area we saw the first bobcat. I’ve only seen pigs a couple of times before, always in a much more remote area of the park. The piglets are cute but the species is invasive and does a lot of habitat damage. Not good.

feral
feral pigs | 11 September 2013

gator
little gator | 13 September 2013

Black Racer
Southern Black Racer | 16 September 2013

Brown Thrasher
Brown Thrasher | 16 September 2013

During yet another evening bike ride, I was extremely thrilled to come across a Scarlet Kingsnake on the bike path right at the entrance to the park.

Scarlet Kingsnake
Lifer Scarlet Kingsnake — so beautiful!! | 18 September 2013

Viceroy
Viceroy | 20 September 2013

Eastern Glass Lizard
Eastern Glass Lizard | 22 September 2013

Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth
Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth | 22 September 2013

noctuidae sp
noctuidae sp | 29 September 2013

the end
Golden Orb Weaver sp with swallowtailed-prey | 29 September 2013

morning at Gemini Springs
even crisper morning | 30 September 2013

buns
Marsh Rabbits | 30 September 2013

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat | 30 September 2013

Prairie Warbler juv
Prairie Warbler | 30 September 2013

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

Gemini Springs logo

September 2013 bird list, Gemini Springs

Muscovy Duck – Cairina moschata
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Archilochus colubris
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Eastern Wood-Pewee – Contopus virens
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
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Veery – Catharus fuscescens
Swainson’s Thrush – Catharus ustulatus
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Ovenbird – Seiurus aurocapilla
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Eastern Towhee – Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
Baltimore Oriole – Icterus galbula

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