Friday, November 29, 2013

Stone Harbor Point ~ Snowy Owl & Snow Buntings

Lots of Snowy Owls are invading this area, which as I understand it, is further South than they are usually found.  Brig reported a Snowy Owl yesterday of which Don Freiday got some great pictures.  Fiday was the annual post Thanksgiving trip to Brig and I thought about going but with so much else going on I stayed home.  Then I heard a report of a Snowy at the Point so off I went.  Stopped at Nummy Island but nothing much seen.  Walked up along the free bridge looking out both sides.  On the spit were about 2 dozen American Oystercatchers, some Dunlin, Sanderlings, other peep, some gulls and in the water a flock of Brant. On the south side there were King Eiders.  Off to the Point where I walked the jetty which had mostly Sanderlings and Dunlin with a few Ruddy Turnstones.  Then the walk out to the Point where I got about 1/2 way and met up with some birders who pointed out the Snowy Owl in front of me.  The views were awesome.  The owl was just beautiful.  My pictures just don't do it justice so I hope to go back and get better pictures.  Also got to see a flock of Snow Buntings flying but not really any close up looks.  After I left the Point I tried the Meadows for closer looks at the Snow Buntings but nothing!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yard Bird #70 ~ Red-tailed Hawk

I was watching and enjoying the birds feeding in my backyard when a hawk swooped in and grabbed a Dark-eyed Junco.  He sat on the fence about 10 ft from the house to eat it.  When he perched I was able to ID the bird as a Red-tailed hawk.  Normally I see Cooper's Hawk picking off my yard birds and not very often at that but who knows what happens while I am at work.  (pictures were taken through the window so the quality isn't as good as I'd like)

My Yard ~ Rufous Hummingbird ~ Day 23

The Rufous Hummingbird first seen in my yard on November 2nd stopped by for a visit this afternoon. Since I am at work most days I am unable to tell if it's been coming by during the week. The hummingbird apparently has also been seen in another yard about 1/3 mile from my house as the crow flies. The birding experts who came out to document the hummingbirds took pictures and recording of both of them. They came to the conclusion that the Rufous Hummingbird is just one bird and is sharing both habitats.  Luckily, I still have some canna's blooming along with the pineapple sage.  Since we are predicted to have a freeze tonight I have no idea how long the plants will last.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Florida Wrap Up

It was a wonderful 4 day trip to Florida - a state I haven't visited since 1976.  Now I am excited to plan another trip here.  We saw turtle, frog, lizards plus Gopher Tortoises.  I saw 8 new species of birds along with life bird #300 which was a Roseate Spoonbill.  In total we saw 70 species of birds; 15 species of butterflies with 10 life butterflies.  We also saw many American Alligators and Manatees.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Florida ~ Sawgrass Lake Park

What a gem!  I found this park listed on the Florida Birding Trail and hoped that it would be good because we were coming from a park that had been a dud!  This park was super.  We saw several Anhinga, lots of Common Gallinule, Pied-billed Grebe's, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Green Heron, Wood Stork, lots more birds plus turtles and alligators.  They had 2 trails through the mangroves along with grassed areas.  Later I found out on ebird that there were 5 life birds seen there today that I didn't see. Feeling sad about that but plan to visit in the future.  Also sad to be going home after 4 wonderful days in Florida.


Tri-colored Heron with a snack

Green Heron
American Alligator

Florida ~ Fort DeSoto

One of my motivating factors in visiting the Tampa area was the chance to visit Fort DeSoto.  Looking at all of the pictures taken there make me envious of the great and different birds than what we see here in Cape May County.  I was disappointed to go to the park this AM and find the North Beach is closed because they are making a movie there.  We did get to see the Shorebird Restoration Area.  Among the shorebirds we saw a Reddish Egret (life bird) which was a target bird for me plus a Long-billed Curlew, a species I really love. Some of the other shorebirds we saw were Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Piping Plovers, Wilson Plovers and Snowy Plovers.  An added bonus was a group of Magnificent Frigatebirds flying over the causeway as we left the park.
Reddish Egret

Long-billed Curlew

Wilson's Plover

White Ibis having lunch
Magnificent Frigatebird

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Florida ~ Honeymoon Island State Park

Then off we drove to Honeymoon Island State Park.  There's a causeway over St. Joseph's Sound leading to Honeymoon Island.  Along the causeway we saw shore birds feeding along the edge of the water including Short-billed Dowitchers, Yellow Legs, Dunlin, plovers and sandpipers, gulls and terns.  We only had about 1 1/2 hours to explore before the park closed.  First stop was the beach which was all shells and no sand but the shells were really neat so we had to collect some of them.  Then it was off to the Osprey Trail for a hike.  There were some Ospreys but there were lots of Gopher Tortoises feeding along the path. There were also 2 turtles fighting each other.  What fun to watch! We saw a Kestrel from a distance.  I wish we'd had more time but maybe someday I'll get back there.

Florida ~ Green Key

Next stop was in Green Key at the Robert K Rees Park.  What a great place!  Apparently, it is a migrant magnet in the spring and other times of the year after storms.  There are warblers found along the entrance in the trees.  I saw many Palm and Pine Warblers along with a gorgeous Yellow-throated Warbler.  We didn't find any birds along the beach front but that was probably the time of day and all of the people on the small beach. Then as we were leaving we saw White Ibis, Little Blue Heron and a Dunlin along the water's edge.  We were also surprised to see a horseshoe crab on the same beach.
Yellow-throated Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Florida ~ Hillsbourgh River State Park

Driving to our first stop we passed by Sandhill Cranes,Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills feeding along the roadside. We also passed by Kingfishers hanging out on the wires. First stop was the Hillsbourgh River State Park where we saw dozens of Zebra Longwing Butterflies, Carolina Satyrs, Gulf Fritillaries, Barred Yellows, Dorantes Longtail Skipper and Long-tailed Skippers. All of the butterflies were new life butterflies except the Long-tailed Skippers.  We hiked 2 trails.  On the first trail over the rapids we saw American Alligators of several sizes but few birds.  The second trail had some birds plus lots of butterflies but nothing we had hoped to see.
Carolina Satyr
Gulf Fritillary
Barred Yellow

Dorantes Longtail Skipper
Long-tailed Skipper (missing it's tail)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Florida ~ Sand Key

After an awesome lunch with Cindy and her son Josh, Bernie and I took a drive along Gulf Avenue along the beaches from Treasure Island to Clearwater Beach.  Over in Clearwater Beach there were hundreds of people walking around and cruising the roads so we backtracked to Sand key Beach. Another one of the suggested sites on the Florida Birding Trail we really enjoyed out time on the beach. As we were driving out we found a fresh water pond that also had some birds so we parked and took a walk around the pond.  On the beach were Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Forster's Tern, Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Snowy Egrets and again some unidentified peep due to distance and not having a scope.  Diving for fish were the terns and the many Brown Pelicans.  They are so much fun to watch.  Back at the parking lot we saw Palm Warblers, Mourning Doves and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Walking around the pond we were treated to close looks of  Egrets, Common Gallinule, Tri-colored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons, Wood Stork, Eastern Phoebe, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  

White Peacock Butterfly
We were also treated to looks at many White Peacock Butterflies, Phoan Butterflies and Cassius Butterflies along with a Monarch Butterfly. Nature is so great!

Cassius Butterfly

Florida ~ Treasure Island Beach

Our day started on the beach in front of our hotel where we saw flocks of Willets foraging along the beach plus lots of Brown Pelicans, Sandwich Terns and Forester's Terns diving for fish. Lots of great shells were on the beach so we also collected  some of those for me to take home.  The shells will be great for some of my fabric art.
Late morning we had an date to meet an Internet friend of mine.  Cindy and I play Words with Friends on FB and have fun doing so. When the opportunity came up to meet her and have lunch together we both jumped on the chance.

Sandwich Tern
Western Willet

Friday, November 15, 2013

Florida ~ E.G. Simmons Park & Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

Both of these sites are on the Florida Birding Trail which is where I found the information on possible places to bird while in Florida.  At the first park we had nice views of an Anhinga (life bird) before I spooked it.  We also saw lots more Pelicans, and Osprey along with Laughing Gulls and 2 Sandwich Terns.  Then we stopped at Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve which was great and  had some nice birds in spite of having some off and on drizzle.  Driving in we saw Loggerhead Shrike (life bird) and White Ibis (life bird).  Among the birds on the wires were Double-crested Cormorants, a Red-shoulder Hawk and Cattle Egrets. There were several pond areas that held birds including 2 Anhinga, Great and Snowy Egrets, American Coot, Tri-colored Herons, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron's.  I had great close up looks of about 6 Common Gallinule. We also drove over to the headquarters where there is a walking path but since we were running out of time we didn't get to walk very far. There we saw Roseate Spoonbills (life bird #300), Wood Stork and lots more plus some unidentified shore birds as we didn't have a scope.  We ended the day with 32 species.

Loggerhead Shrike

Common Gallinule
Osprey with dinner

Tampa, Florida area ~ Tampa Electric Company's Manatee Viewing Center

Ever since I started birding I have wanted to visit Florida.  On Facebook I have "liked"  Fort DeSoto and several other great birding areas so decided since I had 6 days off from work I would make my dreams a reality.  I flew off to Florida with my friend Bernie at 7:30 AM,  we arrived mid-morning, picked up our rental car and drove south to the Tampa Electric Company's Manatee Viewing Center.  They have built 2 boardwalks through the mangroves.  The first one we walked had great looks at several dozen Manatees. Whereas when we camped as children I might have seen a manatee, I don't remember it. Walking the second boardwalk we saw fiddler crabs scurrying along the ground plus saw a Little Blue Heron and a Great Blue Heron.  Out along the bay we saw our first of over a dozen Osprey flying along with some Brown Pelicans.  When leaving Bernie spotted the first butterflies of the trip. There were two, very worn butterflies that looked like Great Southern Whites but could also be a Florida White. They also have a trail that looked good but was under repairs so we couldn't get on it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yard bird #69 ~ Selasphorus Hummingbird

Three days ago I thought I saw a hummer in the back yard but it was about dusk and when I got outside to take a picture of the bird I couldn't find it.  Then yesterday the hummer was out and about in my yard but unfortunately, it was really hard to take pictures. Today, was the charm when I captured these images.  I am waiting on an ID from 2 expert birders.  The hummer was still here late this afternoon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dyehards Fall Postcard Swap

My online dyeing group had a fall postcard swap.  We make fabric postcard to exchange several times a year.  I made the card to the left.  I received cards from Mary and Sheila. I love all 3 of them.