Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter Hummer Update

Fred Bassett writes....

Fellow Hummer Lovers,

The unseasonable warm weather has made it tough to catch hummers enjoying all the natural nectar sources, but banding has started to pick up as more hummers show up with some cooler weather. On Nov 27 in Mobile, I banded Black-chinned Hummers at both Virginia Culberson's and Ina Palmer's homes and then banded a Rufous at Sarah Fannon's home in Daphne. My first catch on 28 Nov was Vickie and Ron Parker's second year return Rufous. After all the birds I've banded in her yard, Vickie was thrilled to have a return. I went on to Tallahassee to band a Rufous and a Ruby-throated at Pam Flynn's home. I got off to a good start on 29 Nov banding two Ruby-throated and one Rufous at John and Peggy Armstrong's always wonderful yard. Pam Flynn called about another hummer and I went back to her home to catch a second-year return Black-chinned. That afternoon I slipped off to Alachua to catch Laurie Shelton's Rufous, back for the third winter.
On 6 Dec I made a quick dash to the coast and caught four good birds. I started in River Falls near Andalusia where I banded a Rufous at the home of Runette and Harold Hood. I struck gold near Baker, Florida when I banded a female BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD.
Mary Ann Friedman identified the species before I got there, and my hat goes off to her for great ID skills. In Shalimar, I banded a Black-chinned at the home of Pat Gross and finished in Mobile where I was surprised to band an immature male ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD at Mona Blackmon's home. On Dec 8 just outside Wetumpka at the home of Joanne and Allen Windom, I caught a banded BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD at Velma and LJ Britain's home in Mobile. I assumed it was bird banded there three years ago but was surprised to find it was a hummer I banded a few milesaway at Barbara Morgan's home this past March. Good reason to always carefully read the band number. I banded my second ALLEN'S of the season at Ainsley McNeely's home and then banded a Rufous at Ron Rowell's home. In Irvington south of Mobile, I caught a second year return Rufous at Michelle and Mike Miller's home. I finsihed up the day banding a Rufous in Daphne at Nancy and Ken Proctor's home. I'll be back there soon for a second hummer that eluded me.
Early on 20 Dec in Fairhope at David and Carrie Dortch's hummer heaven, I banded a BUFF-BELLIED and watched several other hummers not interested in feeders because of the profusion of flowering hummer plants. At Jim Dickerson's equally wonderful hummer garden in Lillian, I banded a Black-chinned and two Rufous while observing at least four other hummers feastingon flowers and not interested in feeders. I stopped in Pensacola at Glenda Bowman's home to band a Ruby-throated before fleeing to Tallahassee in front of a big storm.
Fred Dietrich and I have been plotting for a month to catchhis extremely shy fifth year return Rufous, and our plan finally worked early on 21 Dec when Fred D. tricked her into a trap. Congratulations to Fred and Patty on Tallahasee's first fifth year return hummer. We are already planning to see her again next winter. A bonus at the Dietrich's was the Fox that tippy-toed through the yard as we waited for the hummer.
I banded a Ruby-throated at Julie and Andy Wraithmell's home and went on to Rachel Bradford's home to band a Rubyt-hoated and a Rufous. John and Peggy Armstrong's great yard provided me a Ruby-throated to band, and Sue and Terry Arthur had a Rufous to band. I finished the day banding a Ruby-throated at Fran Rutkovsky's home.
I'm getting more reports of hummers along the coast and will head down there right after enjoying Chrsitmas. I hope Santa brings you a special hummer, and you will share it with me.

Merry Christmas,

Fred

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ruby-throat




The Fred's came by our house this morning to band our female Ruby-throat, it didn't take long for them to catch her. After her brief ordeal she is now sitting in her favorite sun spot in between short feeding bouts at the feeder.


This is my wife Julie holding our precious Ruby
Let us know if you have a wintering hummer! For more information visit the hummingbird study group website.
Merry Xmas & Happy Holidays
Andy

Friday, November 30, 2007

Intro to Digiscoping

I will be giving a talk at the store on Thursday 6 December about digiscoping. The talk starts at 7pm and is free to attend. Hope y'all can make it.

Andy

Winter Hummer Update

Fred Bassett writes....

Fellow Hummer Lovers,

The Link to see the albino Ruby-throated I banded on 28 September is http://www.pbase.com/fdietrich/albino

My much more computer savvy friend, Fred Dietrich, was nice enough to post the pictures for me. We're off to a good start for the season with significant returns of my previously banded hummers. While at Ft Morgan for fall banding, I snuck off on 15 Oct to try to catch Claire Krusko's sixth year return Rufous and got beat like a drum when she teased me but wouldn't quite go in my trap. On my way back to the fort, I stopped by Maud Skiba's home in Magnolia Springs to see about a Black-chinned Maud had reported. The adult male Black-chinned was much more cooperative. It made my day to discover it was my first fourth year return Black-chinned. I banded it 25 Feb 2005 down the street at Reva & Burt Hinson's home. The rain, mosquitoes, and lack of birds ran us out of Fort Morgan on 18 Oct, and I stopped in Loxley at Claire's home and finally tricked her sixth year return female Rufous, Lil Darlin, into my trap. It was great Claire was home to get to hold her very special hummer again. On 25 Oct I went to Tallahassee to talk about hummers and caught Fran Rutkovsky's second year return male Rufous.
I banded my first Rufous of the season 11 Nov at the home of Billie Jones near Luverne, AL and then headed to the coast to see what I could find. On 12 Nov in Spanish Fort, I banded a female Rufous at Gail & Eric Yance's home and went to Pensacola to band a Ruby-throated at Vickie and Ron Parker's home. At first light the next morning, I caught Kay Keighley's female Rufous back for the third winter. It was a treat to get that bird, since she would have nothing to do with me on two previous attempts. That afternoon in Tallahassee, I banded adult female Ruby-throated and Rufous hummers in the great hummer yard of Jody Elliott and Claudia Mason [they live in Killearn..Andy]. Before leaving Tallahassee on 14 Nov, I caught Fred & Patty Dietrich's second year return female Rufous. I stopped in Hartford, AL on the way home to catch another second year return female Rufous at Dick Mowbray's home.
Early on 16 Nove, I zipped over to Columbus, GA to band a female Ruby-throated at Kristi Watkins home and went to Mobile on 17th. I struck out at a couple of homes where hummers were more interested in an abundance of great hummer plants, but the beautiful second year return Buff-bellied at Sandra & Peter Kerr's home made the long trip worth every minute and mile. On 19 Nov, I went to Georgiana, AL to band another Ruby-throated.
I'm getting more reports of hummers as cooler weather brings them to feeders. I expect to get busy after Thanksgiving, so please keep an eye on your feeder and let me know if one shows up at your home.

Thanks

Fred




IF YOU HAVE A WINTER HUMMER WE CAN CONTACT FRED FOR YOU, JUST LET US KNOW.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Orioles, Kinglet and Hummer on Birdcam!

Every winter we get a whole flock of Baltimore Orioles visiting our yard. They really love to eat Grape Jelly from our oriole feeders. Here is a video that we made from clips taken by our new favorite toy...the Birdcam!


video

We also have a female hummingbird, probably a Ruby-throated, visiting our hummer feeder in the backyard. Fred Bassett is visiting town soon so hopefully he will catch her. We have had at least one winter hummingbird in our yard, for each of the last few winters.

video

The Birdcam has really been enjoyable for us both, as it records what birds visit our yard while we are at work. The first thing we do know when we get home is to see what visitors it has taken video and/or photographs of.

Mary & Susan

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving





Glenda Simmons wanted to share a Blue bird of Happiness with y'all and wish you a happy thanksgiving day. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Goldfinches are here!

Glenda Simmons has goldfinches, many have been reported to us over the last few days. Glenda writes.....


I bought this Finch tube feeder from WBU last night and hung it first thing this morning. It didn't take long for my returning winter guests to find it and put it to good use!




Another one of my visiting winter guests. [Pine Warbler]


I have a very dead and ugly, remaining piece of a cherry tree that I see from my kitchen window. If I gave a good kick at the base of this tree, it would likely fall right over. But it just happens to be the favorite, and one of the few perching spots that almost all of my backyard birds use before visiting my feeders. Never-the-less, it is quite an eye-sore and does not make for very attractive pictures. So Glenda's photo tip of the day......Buy a $5 garland from the craft store, climb a ladder and tape it to the ugly protruding branch! It's starting to pay off! lol

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gator versus Otter!

Sylvia Cohen took this amazing picture at St Marks NWR. What an unforgettable experience! She reports that both parties worked out a truce and went their seperate ways. MEGA!



Birdcam Video

I am having a lot of fun with my Birdcam. Here is a collection of clips it took yesterday whilst I was at work.


video


Birdsong Sparrows

Here are a couple of pictures taken by Carol Miller at Birdsong Nature Center this week.



Savannah Sparrow



Grasshopper Sparrow

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pine Siskins are here!!!!

Both Carol Miller and I have had Pine Siskins in our respective yards today. It was a new yard bird for me making 116 species in 3 years...so far! They came to my eliminator which has SE No Mess in it. I did put out my thistle feeder today especially after hearing that folk are getting goldfinches at their feeders as well. Looks like the finches are early this year...you can never tell what they are going to do in a given year. There are also reports that there is an irruption of siskins this year. States to our north are seeing them in large numbers already. Lets hope a lot of 'em make it to our area!

Carol took the picture below and the video is from my Birdcam. See my blog for more info.
www.surfbirds.com/blog/limeybirder

Andy




video

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sweet Sixteen!

This morning Susan and I were able to spend a few hours enjoying the birds visiting our feeders and birdbath. We listed a total of 16 species!

Pine Warbler
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Baltimore Oriole (3 males and 1 female)
Northern Cardinal
American Robin
Blue Jay
Northern Mockingbird
House Finch
Carolina Chickadee
Chipping Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker

we also had a Dark-eyed Junco with our Chipping Sparrows. We had 2 junco's yesterday! This was a new species for our yard. It looks like we are in for a good junco winter in Tallahassee.



American Robins



Baltimore Oriole (male)


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Brrrrr the Sparrows are here!

Jeez it's cold this morning! What happened to fall? Anyway one thing good to come of this cold weather is the large influx of sparrows to the south-eastern USA. We are starting to witness this influx here in Tallahassee. Birds like the Dark-eyed Junco are arriving in our area much earlier than usual and I am hearing reports of them in large numbers in Georgia and Alabama. My Chipping Sparrows are here and two days ago they brought a pair of juncos with them. Dark-eyed Junco is an annual visitor to my yard but I've never had more than a singleton. They arrived earlier than any of my previous juncos as well. Other sparrows to look out for include White-throated and White-crowned. If you live out in the country check your Chipping Sparrows carefully for Field Sparrows.


Sparrows love to eat a mixture of White Millet and Cracked Corn, they prefer to feed on the ground or on a tray feeder close to the ground. Spread the mix over a large area near some vegetation, preferable a log pile or some low lying shrubs. Sparrows like to watch from cover to make sure the coast is clear before venturing out to feed. If you are lucky you may get a large flock by the turn of the year. Two winters ago my Chipping Sparrow flock exceeded 120 birds! Last winter my friend Ross banded almost 50 Chipping Sparrows in my yard, I was excited to see at least two banded birds had returned this winter whilst watching my flock yesterday. This may prove that our Chipping Sparrows return to our yards every winter so it's important to provide them with the food they need.



Dark-eyed Junco




White-crowned Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow



Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Green-breasted Mango

Below Carol Miller writes about her twitching debut to see Georgia's first Green-breasted Mango. Bob Sargent of the Hummingbird Study Group banded a week or so ago and it is currently visiting feeders in Dublin, GA, about 200 miles NE of our fair city. Green-breasted Mango's normally resides in Central America but occassionally one gets lost and heads for a vacation to the USA. Most USA records come from Texas but it has been recorded recently in Wisconsin and North Carolina. It is a large unmistakably beautiful hummingbird. Its scientific name celbrates the French Naturalist Florent Prevost. If you have the opportunity go see this cracker from the tropics. I'll be going next Monday! Hopefully I won't be gripped off for long, eh Carol?

Andy





Carol Writes.....

Diane and I left Tallahassee EARLY Tuesday morning, sadly, without our beloved leader, to twitch the Green-breasted Mango that has been blessing Dublin, Georgia with its presence. About 10, we arrived and were greeted by a couple from Alabama who had detoured on their way home to see the bird. We roamed around the yards, and heard the husband holler. The Mango was on the feeder across the street--and we missed it. An hour or so later, Diane saw him in the same yard at some flowers. At lunchtime, a guy stopped by on his lunch hour and saw it in that yard, also. By that time, we had all parked at that location, and Diane and I were able to see it about 1:00. We waited another hour, but he never put in another appearance, so it was home again. On the way home, we called Andy to share our excitement. I don't think he appreciate the gesture--said we were being GRIPPY! (sorry) The picture isn't very good, but the Mango was a lot quicker than my trigger finger.





Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fort Morgan Bird Banding

Glenda sent us these wonderful pictures and an account of her trip with Bonnie to Fort Morgan, Alabama this past weekend.



Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Red-breasted Nuthatch




Brown-headed Nuthatch



Black-throated Green Warbler


Northern Flicker


Glenda writes....

This past week-end, Bonnie Nielsen and I had a wonderful trip out to Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores, Al, to observe banding of migrating birds by The Hummerbird Study Group. This was my third such trip and Bonnie's first...but won't be her last!

As usual, Fred Bassett, Bob and Martha Sargent and the rest of the HBSG banding crew welcomed and bedazzled us with their vast knowledge and gentle handling of these beautiful birds. I can't speak highly enough about this wonderful organization and their commitment to the study and preservation of hummingbirds and other migrating birds. And they are all non-paid volunteers! Andy previously listed their website, but here it is again.

www.hummingbirdsplus.org

Below is a list of birds that Bonnie and I saw banded in our day and half visit and some of their pictures.


Glenda Simmons
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1) Magnolia Warbler-many, both sexes
2) Wood Thrush-many
3) House Wren-several
4) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher-several
5) Carolina Chickadee
6) Pine Warbler-male and female
7) Gray Catbird-many
8) Common Yellowthroat, several, both sexes
9) Indigo Bunting, several females
10) Red-eyed vireo
11) Bay-breasted Warbler
12) Chuck-Will's-Widow
13) Eastern Towhee, female
14) American Redstart, juvenile male
15) Black-throated Green Warbler, several, both sexes
16) Black-and-white Warbler, male and female
17) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
18) Yellow-rumped Warbler
19) White-eyed Vireo
20) Red-breasted Nuthatch
21) Oven Bird
22) Eastern Phoebe
23) Northern Cardinal, female
24) Brown-headed Nuthatch, several
25) Tennessee Warbler, female
26) Blue Grosbeak, female
27) Swainson's Thrush
28) Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, several
29) Northern Flicker, female

(Bonnie saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo & Yellow-breasted Chat)
We also saw a variety of shorebirds and songbirds in the trees and Broad-winged Hawks soaring overhead. The only disappointment, for me, was not seeing a hummingbird; however several had been banded before we arrived. Before we left, three more birders from Tallahassee arrived, Fred Dietrich, Pam Flynn and Tracee Strohman, so hopefully they will be adding more birds to this list.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

The latest cold front brought us a nice splash of color to our feeders yesterday, in the shape of 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! We have had them before at our feeders but we still get excited when they arrive during their migration to and from the tropics.




Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in the north eastern quadrant of the United States and into Central and Eastern Canada. They mostly nest in deciduous woods, favoring edges or openings that have a combination of shrubs and trees. They spend the winter in the tropics.

We typically see them in Tallahassee during April and October when they are migrating through our area. They are often seen visiting backyard feeding stations, especially ones that have hopper feeders containing Safflower, which is one of their favorite seed types. Backyards that have fruiting trees and/or shrubs are also likely to attract the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.



I watched the three grosbeaks yesterday foraging in one of our Dogwood Trees, stuffing their bellies with berries! Unfortunately our resident family of Northern Mockingbirds took exception to their dining habits, and chased them away! But to my delight they returned and started to feed from my Sky Cafe, which contains Safflower.




This morning I noticed that they were still around, and one of them, a male, started to eat Fruit Cake no-melt suet dough! That makes 16 species that have eaten this flavor of suet in my yard. One of the other birds, a young male, preferred sunflower chips and the female munched on Safflower.

So keep an eye out for a cardinal sized bird with a big chunky bill visiting your feeders this month, it may be a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Andy

Friday, October 5, 2007

Winter Hummingbirds, banding and the Freds!

Fred Bassett is an expert in hummingbirds and he travels all over the country to band them. He is one of many dedicated banders belonging to the Hummingbird Study Group and together they have contributed a lot of scientific data regarding the migration and habits of our beloved hummers.

Many of you will probably have met the Freds, Bassett and Dietrich on their winter visits to Tallahassee. They have captured, banded and released hundreds of hummingbirds that have migrated to Tallahassee for the winter. Fred has banded hummingbirds in Mary & Susan's yard as well as mine.



Susan is holding a Black-chinned Hummingbird and Mary is holding a Rufous.








this is a female Rufous Hummingbird that the Freds caught in my yard. Unfortunately we didn't get to hold her as my wife and I were getting married the day he came to catch her!


The Rufous Hummingbird is typically the most common wintering hummingbird in Tallahassee each year. Most of the birds reported are immatures but every once in a while Fred will catch an adult male...truly one of the world's most beautiful birds!








I took this picture of a male Rufous in Arizona


Each winter several different species are captured by Fred. Last winter he caught and banded 5 species in Tallahassee; Rufous, Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, Calliope and Buff-bellied. Most of our wintering birds arrive in November but some come earlier and some arrive later.




To mark the impending arrival of our wintering hummingbirds Fred Bassett will be entertaining us with a hummingbird talk on Thursday, October 25 at 7pm. His talk is immensely popular, some of us have actually attended it several times!


Fred also posts a hummingbird news update letting us know what hummers he has been catching and any other Hummingbird Study Group news. With his kind permission we will be publishing his posts on our blog from now on.


Here is Fred's latest post...he writes...


Fellow Hummer Lovers...

In my first update, I suggested you might have a Rufous mixed in with your Ruby-throated Hummers. They really have been there. I had reports and pictures of adult male Rufous Hummers in Crawfordville, Pensacola, and Walnut Hill, Florida. Unfortunately all were "one day" wonders and gone before I could go band them. But I've had better luck with female Rufous. On Friday, 28 September in Niceville, FL I caught a fith year return female Rufous at MaryAnn Friedman's home and then went to Enterprise, AL where I caught my first ever sixth year return Rufous at the home of Ike and Beth Behar. Ike's comment was that he would have never believed what would happen when I banded that immature Rufous hummer in his yard so many years ago. Last winter both of those hummers beat me like a drum and required multiple trips to catch. This time both went in my trap pretty quickly. It is still better to be lucky than good.


Friday afternoon I got lucky again and banded a pure albino immature female Ruby-throated Hummer on Lake Martin north of Montgomery, AL. You've missed a real treat if you haven't seen a white hummer. I'll try to post a link to pictures in my next update.


We open at Fort Morgan next Saturday, 6 October and will be there until 19 October. Come visit if you can.


Send more Hummers,


Fred



As Fred says the Hummingbird Study Group will be banding migrant birds at their Fort Morgan Banding Station between October 6-19. More information can be found on their website linked below.




Don't miss out on Fred's talk...October 25, 7pm at the Wild Birds Unlimited store.


If you have a wintering hummingbird in your yard this winter contact Fred so he can come visit you and band it. Fred can be contacted as follows...


by telephone: 334-244-0227




we would also love to include a picture of you holding your wintering hummingbird on our blog. So let us know if you would like us to do that.


Andy


Glenda Simmons sent us a bunch of hummingbird pictures from her experiences with the Freds banding exploits. Enjoy!








Tuesday, October 2, 2007

All day walk to Lake Seminole

I had the pleasure of leading an all day walk to the Lake Seminole area this past Saturday. The birding was great and the weather was glorious. We began our birding adventure at Three Rivers State Park which is located between the town of Sneads and Lake Seminole. We ambled along the dry creek trail for a couple of miles enjoying several migrant songbirds. We had good looks at a Wood Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Cooper's Hawk and best of all a Least Flycatcher.

After our picnic lunch we went for another walk to the lakeshore where we saw a Belted Kingfisher as well as Great Egrets, Pied-billed Grebes and a magnificent Bald Eagle.
A small trail near the carpark yielded more migrants, best of all was a gorgeous male American Redstart.

We then drove a few miles to Sneads Park, which overlooks Lake Seminole. Amazingly we counted 65 Pied-billed Grebes on the lake as well as a Common Tern. The best bird though was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. He whizzed by the lakeshore and headed south over woodruff dam, no doubt following the Apalachicola river to the coast.

The dam was our next stop. Bank Swallow and Green Heron were observed. At a nearby park we saw a few more migrants including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Black-and-white Warbler.

We finished the day with over 60+ species. It was a lot of fun!

Andy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bald Point & Mashes Sands

Carol Miller send us these great pictures and writes....

It was a beautiful day for the coast, and the birds co-operated. After seeing several flights of ibis and oystercatchers at Bald Point, we were off to a good start. The beach at Alligator point looked pretty barren at a casual glance, but we walked along the rack lines and saw lots of birds digging through the seaweed. We sat down on the sand and watched one of the sanderlings work his way closer and closer so wec ould get good pictures. Then we saw a big group of oystercatchers resting on a dock. The coup for the day was at Mashes Sands -13 Marbled Godwits, who were feasting on horseshoe crab eggs on the beach.





Marbled Godwit & Ruddy Turnstone



Sanderling & Least Sandpiper



Sylvia Cohen sent us a great Marbled Godwit picture as well from the all day birdwalk to Bald Point.







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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pawnee National Grasslands

Carol Miller writes...

While in Colorado for the FSU-CU game last weekend, we went northeast of Denver to the Grasslands. It was amazing to see all that flat land right next to the mountains! As we drove around, we saw flocks of Horned Larks and Vesper Sparrows flying around the fields and perched on the fences. We also saw Northern Harrier, Swainson's Hawk, American Kestrel, and Red-tailed Hawks flying overhead, and a fox running across the fields.


Horned Lark


Vesper Sparrow


Vesper Sparrows are a fairly common winter visitor to the Florida Panhandle, the J R Alford Greenway on the east side of Tallahassee can be an excellent site to find them between November and March.
Horned Larks are very rare visitors to Florida; there were 3-4 located in Jackson County last winter, which isn't too far from Tallahassee. In winter Horned Larks prefer agricultural fields especially ones that have recently been ploughed.

Andy





Cooper's Hawk

Glenda Simmons writes...

I've had some interesing birding in my backyard recently, with another incident to share. This juvenile Cooper's Hawk was stalking my backyard birds. I was able to observe him (or her?) for several minutes at a close range, all the while snapping away photographs. I assume that it was just too intent on scoring his next meal, to be concerned with my presence. I'm glad to report that he flew off, still hungry.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who needs a Net!

Glenda Simmons writes...

A few evenings ago, I walked into my garage, to find a juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, flying back and forth across the ceiling in a panic. I had rescued two such hummers last summer from my garage, and the red ER pull for the garage door was covered with grey duct tape after the first incident. It amazes me how these little flying jewels can fly in all directions and across the Gulf Of Mexico and back to the same yards, year after year, but can't figure out how to fly two feet lower and get out a huge opened door! All three of my directionally challanged hummers were young males. Ummm... lol But as you can see from my photos there was a happy ending.








Friday, August 31, 2007

Skimmers

Carol Miller writes....

We were treated to a flock of Black Skimmers doing their thing Tuesday evening; we were down at St.Mark's on one of Andy's walks. Besides all the birds,there were two rats, three raccoons, an otter, a bobcat, and two deer.

Carol also captured this great action shot of a feeding skimmer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wood Storks

There has been approximately 50 Wood Storks on Headquarters Pond, St Marks NWR recently. Yesterday there were 5 Roseate Spoonbills mixed in with them plus about 100 Snowy Egrets and 50 Great Egrets. Other highlights on the refuge included 3 Wilson's Phalaropes and a bunch of Yellow Warblers.


video

Andy

Not Gonna Share!

Glenda Simmons writes.....

This Dove was in the feeder first, minding his business, when the Red-bellied Woodpecker blasted in, claiming the feeder. He started yelling at the dove to get out, and after a few moments, the dove had had enough and left the selfish Woodpecker to pig-out...or Bird-Out!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Empty Nest Syndrome!

Glenda Simmons sent us a summary of her Bluebird nesting season, as well as a selection of beautiful photographs. She writes...

I've had such an incredible nesting season with my Resident Bluebird pair. The highlights were witnessing the first two fledge; having the first one land on my head!! Another very special moment was holding the "Little Red Wagon" at arms distance and having Dad and a couple of the fledglings land on it for a mealworm treat. Twelve fledglings and thousands of mealworms later....I now have EMPTY NEST SYNDROME!









Monday, August 20, 2007

Sandhill Cranes

a story and pictures from Carol Miller......

Last week, when I was over in Palatka, I went birding at the Welaka National Fish Hatchery, on the Eastern section of the Great Florida Birding Trail. As I was taking pictures of the usual suspects, I heard a horrible commotion coming from one of the other ponds...a pair of Sandhill Cranes coming in for landing. What a treat! They bowed and danced and posed their way down the edge of the pond so I could get a good look. WOW!





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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mississippi Kite

Bonnie Nielsen emailed us a couple of great pictures she took recently of a Mississippi Kite, which paid a visit to her backyard. Mississippi Kites nest in our area and will soon be heading south for the winter. They are typically here between early-April and mid-September.







Tuesday, August 14, 2007

male Ruby-throated Hummingbird


This beautiful male defended 2 of our 6 hummingbird feeders today with his life! It was extremely funny to see him chase a Blue Jay away! We have at least a dozen hummingbirds visiting our feeders at the moment!


Andy

Monday, August 13, 2007

Box Turtle


It isn't just birds that live in our yard, we also have all kinds of other wildlife including a family of Box Turtles! Every once in a while one will come onto our porch looking for a handout. Apples and lettuce seem to be their favorite. We tend to see them more in the summer when it is hot.

Andy

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Night Crawlers" and more...

As we were leaving St Marks one evening we had to stop several times to avoid snakes that were resting on the road. When we approached the first two snakes they obliged us and wriggled away ino the woods. However, the third and biggest snake refused to budge! Mary dared me to get out and take a photograph....it was a beautiful but large Florida Water Snake. These snakes feed on fish and amphibians and are non-venomous; when disturbed, they flatten their bodies and their heads appear triangular like members of the viper family such as the Eastern Diamondback Rattler. After two photos my water snake suddenly reared up and backed into the roadside vegetation. Continuing down the lighthouse road, we also saw 3 Great Horned Owls, one of which had a snake for supper...thus the circle of life goes on.
Our evening trip to the refuge was filled with many other exciting encounters. Black Skimmers, Roseate Spoonbills, Common Nighthawk, Black-crowned Night Heron, American White Pelicans and Black-necked Stilts all obliged and gave us great looks.

Susan

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Serendipity




Carol Miller sent us this story and pics from her recent birding trip to St. Pete.....


While visiting in St. Petersburg last month, I went in search of Monk Parakeets that I knew used to nest in a local substation. After locating their nests, my husband and I went across the Pinellas Bayway to Ft.Desoto. On the way, we came to a quick stop when I spied Magnificent Frigatebirds flying over a pond. I saw some more parakeets on a wire when I got out to snap the Frigatebirds. I didn't notice that the parakeets were Black-Hooded until I looked at the pictures on the camera. What a great find!