Monday 25 January 2016

Florida Part 2

Well, I have sorted through thirteen hundred images which I took whilst in Florida on the family holiday - good job I wasn't actually on bird watching trip - there's no telling how many images I would have taken!! And so, below are a few more images of the birds we encountered during our ten day stay.  There are some new species below and some from my previous post but probably in a different pose
                                                                       American Kestrel
                                                                       Black Vulture
                                                                    Boat-tailed Grackle
                                                                     Brown Pelican
                                                                      Caspian Tern
                                                                    Common Grackle
                                                              Double-crested Cormorant
                                                                      Fish Crow
                                                                    Great-blue Heron
                                                                    Great-white Egret
                                                               Northern Mockingbird
                                                                   Palm Warbler
                                                               Red-breasted Merganser
                                                                     Ring-billed Gull
                                                                    Sandhill Crane
                                                                     Snowy Egret
                                                                    Tri-coloured Heron

A bit gruesome I know, but below is the River Otter at different stages of eating the duck it had found - or more probably killed! As you can see it didn't leave a lot!
Hope you have enjoyed the images from Florida, and as always, thanks for stopping by. If you have any comments, please don't be afraid to post them, as I would welcome any feedback.

Wednesday 20 January 2016


A few months ago, the Duchess and I decided to take the kids and their partners  and Charlie, our grandson on holiday to Florida (the kids being 36 and 32)  It was to be a family holiday, so birding was going to take a back seat for a change - although I would be taking my camera and binoculars just in case! .... so, on 5th Jan, we headed for Florida, staying in a private villa for 10 days, based between Kissimmee and Claremont. After an uneventful flight, we arrived at Orlando MCO airport, collected our hire cars and headed for the villa, arriving some time after 9.00 pm, tired after our long day, so it  was time for bed. Waking up the following morning, our plan was to 'do' Universal Studios for the day; just before we headed off, Mark (my son-in-law) came in and said there were some big birds in the next door neighbors' garden;they turned out to be Sandhill Cranes. Over the next 10 days, we saw quite a few in the neighborhood but on my previous visit to Florida, I spent days looking for them! As always, I will try not to bore you with a day by day account or a list of birds, just some of the highlights and a few images
 The one thing you notice when driving around Florida is the amount of lakes and small pools there - even in among residential areas; there was one 300 yards from the villa, which I gave the once over early one morning, and it produced Little-blue Heron, American Coot and Eastern Phoebe. The image below shows what turns up on some of these lakes. I took this image whilst driving about - Double-crested Cormorant, White Pelican, ringed-billed Gull, Great-whte Egret and Pied-billed Grebe are shown.
 Even when at the studios there are always birds to be seen - Common Grackle are everywhere; on the lakes there are Ringed-necked Duck, and to make me feel at home, Mallard! There are not many times when you look to the sky and don't either a Turkey or Black Vulture soaring overhead. The images below are from the little pool just across the road from the villa

We ventured over to the west coast one day to Johns Pass so the kids could go jet skiing. The Duchess the daughter and I had a quiet beverage on the board walk. Once again, just sitting around there are birds to be seen - Brown Pelican, Fish Crow, Red-breasted Merganser and Laughing Gull all in good numbers 
 Everyone wanted to go to the Kennedy  Space Centre on Merrit Island, on the east coast - not far from Cocoa Beach. What an interesting and brilliant day! On the bird front, again by just keeping your eyes open, I saw Roseate Spoonbill, loads of herons and the best view I have had of Bald Eagle which just sat on a road side verge! Pity I didn't have my camera!!
One of my favorite places in Orlando is Gatorland - yes, I know it's a tourist attraction, but I was told it's one of the biggest rookeries in the USA; you get most of the herons here - and at close quarters. It's great to see Snowy Egrets hitching a ride on the back of an alligator, Ospreys fishing and Great-blue Herons and Wood Storks bullying everyone.  Palm and Yellow-rumped Warbler and Grey Catbird were also seen here
 The only day I was to go out birding was on the 12th; I had a arranged a guide through 'birding pal'.  I picked Jenny up at her home at 8.00am as arranged, and we set off to go to a wildlife refuge that Jenny knew; from here the day went drastically downhill. We got to the refuge only to find it was closed, so we decided to try another well known birding area, but on the way there I had a tyre blow out on the Florida Turnpike! All I can say is I was glad that Jenny was with me or I would still be there now, so thanks Jenny We did manage a couple of hours at Kissimmee water front where Lesser Scaup and Belted Kingfisher were ticked and nice Tri-coloured Heron was seen.  I did ask Jenny about the swallows over the water and she told me they were Tree Swallows. (we had seen thousands whilst on our was to the Space Centre) As I was taking images of the heron, we heard a splash in the water but didn't see anything - then an Otter hauled itself onto a concrete slipway, and I was amazed what its' quarry was - it was a small duck! ( Lesser Scaup, I would have thought)  It stayed there for at least 20 minutes before having a little wash and then back into the lake. Just seeing that made up for the day Jenny and I had had!!
 On our last day the Duchess and I decided to go a few miles up the road to the Louisa wildlife refuge which has lots of different habitat. Going to the farthest car park which was a woodland area, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker and Black and White warbler were noted; also from the road, Blue-grey Gnatctcher, Eastern Bluebird and American Kestrel. Another good spot by Sue was Wild Turkey. Below is is an image of the Eastern Phoebe which was feeding around the refuge entrance area.
 Probably one of  the best things I have ever done was to swim with Manatees - what an experience! but even here, I was able to add Anhinga, Slavonian Grebe and Yellow-crowned Night Heron to the trip list. All in all, it was a great family holiday and everybody enjoyed themselves. The trip list was 64, and that wasn't even trying!  Florida is a great birding place if you want to put the time in, and below are some more images of the some of the birds we saw
                                                                     Glossy Ibis
                                                                  Great-blue Heron
                                                                  Great-white Egret
                                                                     Grey Catbird
                                                                      Laughing Gull
                                                                       Loggerhead Shrike
                                                                    Northern Cardinal
                                                                    Ringed-bill Gull
                                                                   Snowy Egret
                                                                       Tri-colured Heron
                                                                        White Ibis
                                                           Yellow-crowned Night Heron
                                                                Yellow -rumped Warbler
 Above is a wood Stork and below is the river Otter with its' lunch. When I have sorted my images out I will post some more, but until then, thanks for stopping by