Sunday, October 14, 2012

Catching up on Birding

Don spotting, Lorraine getting the Pic and the Admiral searching for the bird.

Moving into thicker vegetation, watch out for the poison Ivy and everything else!

There is another one up there somewhere.

This was Birding on Saturday AM with about 25 others at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve they were looking for a Screech Owl.

This Yellow Crowned Night Heron greets us every morning and evening at the ramp to our marina docks.

A few of these juvenile Green Herons fish around the docks here, they were raised on a small mangrove island rookery next to our marina.

We saw a Cane Toad like this one one evening just before dark as we were walking down the sidewalk near our marina. They secrete a poisonous fluid around their head area and is is not uncommon to hear of dogs dying from their secretions. These are HUGE toads, it Startled me it was so unbelievably big.,

These are Queens Lilly's at the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg. We saw Moor Hens walking across the water on these huge pads.

Huge Lilly Bloom

Double Hibiscus

Angel Trumpets, Someone discovered you could smoke these things and be treated with a Hallucinogenic Trip.

Had to get a picture sitting on the Serenity Stone, a piece of Petrified Limestone.

The Admiral has this uncanny ability of always hooking up with the top resources in the area. We were out just enjoying Fort DeSoto and she walked over to a small awning on the beach with some obvious birders and just happened to meet Lorraine Margeson. Lorraine is a leader among many Bird Stewards who stand watch over bird habitats at Fort DeSoto and other local areas. Short Story is Lorraine emailed us with a invitation to do some birding at Fort Desoto with her and her mate Don. We started our morning checking out the shore birds which eventually required a bit of wading through tidal pools to get across the low areas. Fort Desoto is a very large area and we drove to three different areas and hiked about each area considerably. I think we started around 8am and ended just after 1pm. Don is the best birder I have ever seen. He is able to quickly spot and identify a bird in the most difficult of environments. (Difficult for Lynn and I since we learned birding in Port A where there are no trees.) Here the trees can easily be 30 or 40 feet tall and the vegetation is thick and lush making it a challenge to spot small birds in the tops. Yes you can see the movement but often you have to identify the birds from their bottom parts since they are so high up.
The Admiral followed Lorraine closely through thick brush that alone we would not have even thought of entering since their are plenty of things both plant and animal that you want to avoid coming in contact with in Florida. The following is a list of sightings that Don and Lorraine posted on some bird reporting site after our day of birding together. These are the sightings by Don and Lorraine, Lynn and I got to share a part of this by spending a wonderful day with the best.

Fort De Soto County Park, Pinellas, US-FL

Sep 15, 2012 9:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Protocol: Traveling

4.0 mile(s)

68 species (+1 other taxa)

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) 34 8 flying east off the gulf, 26 migrating
south within 200 yards of shore

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) 4
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) 3
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 5
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) 1
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 19
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 9
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) 2
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) 1
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) 1
Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) 2
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) 14
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 7
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 6
Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) 17
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) 6
Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) 2 1 banded
American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) 2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 1
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 26
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 16
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) 22
Sanderling (Calidris alba) 38
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) 5
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) 6
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 17
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) 2
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) 56
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) 435
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 1
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) 1
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) 4
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 6
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) 2
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 3
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) 27
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 1200
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) 450
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) 135
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 14
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina) 8
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Empidonax sp. (Empidonax sp.) 1
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) 6
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) 1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 2
Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) 3
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) 7
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 5
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 40
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) 2 immature
Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina) 2

Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) 1 Adult male seen well by 4
people for around 10 minutes at less than 50 feet.

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) 3 1 male
Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca) 1 male
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) 1 female
Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) 2 1 immature
Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica) 4
Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor) 4
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) 1 Male
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 4
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 1
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) 30

Wow! Then a couple of weeks later we decided to attend the Saturday Morning Birding tour at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Pete. Well about 25 or so birders showed up and there was a female leader with a couple of male spotting helpers.
This was a way different experience as it is difficult to stay near the leaders as they spot the birds. It was the first time we have seen someone use a (green) laser light to help the group see the spotted bird. At first I thought it was a piece of green tinsel that had been blown up in the tree then we realized it was a laser light. The leader said she made sure not to shine it directly at the birds but just in the general area so we could all find the bird. This was a pretty handy device since the trees here are all very tall and though they keep it thinned out and it is not as dense as at that one area at Fort DeSoto it is still a challenge to see the colors and markings of the small birds so high up in the canopy tops. This also causes serious birders neck as you are constantly craning your necks to look almost straight up to see the birds. We lauged a lot since in Port A everything the birds can land on are usually not much taller than  head high. They are way easier to identify since you can easily see all their colors and markings.

We bought a Groupon to go see the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. We thought besides the plants we might see a few birds there. We decided to go on Friday morning since there is a free tour of the Gardens.
This is the only way to see this place unless you are a professional Horticulturist. There is no way we could have enjoyed these gardens half as much on our own. Who would have known the story about the Angel Trumpets? I copied the following from the Gardens website:
"In 1903 a plumber by the name of George Turner, Sr. purchased the six acres that would become a world famous botanical attraction. Using an elaborate maze of clay tiles, he drained an ancient lake on the property, leaving a rich muck soil that was ideal for his favorite hobby – gardening. Neighbors so enjoyed strolling through Mr. Turner's garden, that by the early 1920's, he was charging a nickel for tours. Three generations of the Turner family continued the vision that created this unique tropical garden, with its flowing ponds."
Well this plumber was one heck of a gardener. Maybe his kids drove him crazy and he just stayed out of the house and the Garden was his escape? Definitely worth a visit, we went around a second time without the guide. We did not see any birds though other than the few they had on exhibit in the gardens. The Admiral continues to enjoy the birds everyday here in our marina. With so many juveniles to watch develop from the nearby rookery island she keeps her camera full of new pics.

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