Monday, July 09, 2018

Summertime, the Birding is Not So Easy

It's summertime in Polk county. Lakeland is chock-full of Fish Crows and Grackles (Boat-tailed and Common), mostly recent fledgling birds. Some birds are still nesting. I've located a Blue Jay nest, but these are likely second or third efforts. I've seen at least two young Blue Jays in my backyard this month. There's also signs of nesting Mourning Doves in the parking garage at work. These mostly appear to be past efforts, but I'm keeping an eye out.
    Every bird I see now I'll likely see again. That's something that hit me the other day while birding. They're residents, they don't move much. They're old friends. The Red-bellied woodpecker that drums on my fascia, the Cooper's hawk flying around with a protesting group of Blue jays.
Northern Mockingbirds.
Ohhhhh, mista NOMO, give me NO MO' of that midnight singin'.
It's time to pay attention to the details. Find the new birds, not the new species on the list, but the birds that didn't exist before this year, the REAL new birds. I've watched a family of cardinals in my yard raise at least two broods, this year, I'm actually catching the males go from drab to fab. It's an interesting process.
June is gone.
There's likely to be little activity this month. The birds will grow quieter. I might find another Mourning dove nest, I don't know. Today (7/9) I found a Brown Pelican on Lake Morton. That's about as exciting as I can expect right now, unless I manage to find a Yellow-crowned night heron.

I'll watch the littles grow, with gladness.
It's good to know the birds have a future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Always Be Birding

Most lists I submit to eBird are of short trips I take walking around Downtown Lakeland, while running an errand. This time, I found a Great Egret hunting lizards. This video was 30 seconds after he gulped down a Brown Anole.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fall Report

I've been birding more, not biking so much. I did take the time to train and run a 5k though. Still feeling some positive effects from that, but I'm getting that old restless urge to exercise more again.
I have, after all, finally turned forty.
It use to be, I was the young guy at all the Audubon Society meetings, now I'm the old guy.
Of course, I haven't been to an Audubon Society meeting in a long while either , so I could still be the young guy. I hope not though, conservation should be something we all care about regardless of age.

Bird notes:
I got my first sparrow at Holloway park!
Saw 3 Savannah Sparrows on the north side of the race course parking area on November 5th. There's a ditch that didn't get mowed with some tall standing weeds in it, and the birds were there. At first I reported them as grasshopper sparrows, but the breasts on all three birds were well streaked, and showing a spot in the middle. Plus the median crown stripe was thin, and not very light. Also, the birds were very brown, not buffy at all, except a little toward the lores. Sibley convinced me. I was really looking at Savannah sparrows.
I'm grateful for them now though, because I saw another one this last Saturday. If ebird is to be believed, Savannah is one of the more common sparrows at Holloway in the winter. Know what's always there, and you'll discover what's new when something new shows up!
The catbirds are back. On my birthday, my dad and I went out there, and we counted no less than 9, probably heard more too.
Lake Morton has returning ducks.
There's a growing number of Ring-necked ducks, and Lesser scaup. I've even managed to count a few Ruddy ducks! As the season progresses, I'll be paying close attention to this spot either after work, or during my lunch break.
Can't wait to find a Hooded merganser there!
My use of eBird is ever expanding, what a valuable tool! I'm doing my best to submit useful lists that detail information. I've expanded my personal list locations, and even started a yardlist to catch those birds that pass through here at the home base.
My wife and I are in talks about what to do for our wedding anniversary next year. Part of it may involve some travel out of state. I hope to be able to use this as an opportunity to open up more locations on my eBird life list.
We shall see!
Until then, the bike is going in the shop ASAP and getting road worthy, time to dust off the wheels, and take 'er fer a spin, keepin' the 'nocs out the spokes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Planning the Birding

New Year, added focus.
Every year, I want to go birding more, and every year, I eek a little more out of birding, try different things, make it more productive I think. I really like eBird, and last year I expanded my use of it. Things kind of tapered off at the end of the year though.

After New Year, I decided to go birding around Lake Morton after I got off work. So far, this has been a pretty good activity, the couple of times I've made it. There's a bunch of introduced swans and ducks, but for some reason, this is the lake all the winter diving ducks seem to hang out. All winter, Scaup, Ring-necked, and Ruddy ducks play around. There's even a bunch of American pelicans that hang out around the edge of the lake in the winter. Summer time, there's still waders of all kinds, Wood ducks, occasional Solitary Sandpipers, not to mention all the exotics that are kept as wild pets.

There's the local hotspots as well, especially Circle B Bar Reserve. The sandpipers there have really been showing out! Reports of Ruff, Western, and a Phalarope. I got Stilt, Pectoral, White-rumped, Solitary, Least, and Semipalmated sandpipers in addition to a nemesis bird: Bobolink!

Holloway shines bright as the closest hotspot to my house. I'm still sparrowless at that site, but I'm managed to see 73 species there so far. This year, I've added 8 species to my site list there, and I've got high hopes for the rest of the year. Even after the sandpiper blitz at Circle B, Holloway is still the place I've seen the most species of birds. It's my goal to be 90+ species there by the end of November.

I also want to expand out of Polk county. Get into Pinellas and Ft Desoto. Visit some of the other coastal spots. I anticipate a birthday big day that encompasses the I-4 corridor somehow. This summer I plan to visit my parents, and I want to open up some places on the way there, and where they live with the kids. Visit the Louisiana State Arboretum and Chicot state park. The kids would like it there, I think. It seems to be set up similarly to the nature center at Circle B Bar. I want to tromp around Kisatchie National Forest looking for Red cockaded woodpeckers!

I'm making plans. Plans to bike and go birding, hike and go birding, teach kids about the outdoors and go birding. I can't wait to find out what I'll see next.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Actually Rode my Bike... Twice Even!

Two Sundays in a row, I woke up before dawn.

The first Sunday morning heralded the day before the beginning of school for E (Kid #2) and also the end of a small vacation. We were out of town at the beginning, and visiting with my parents at our house the rest of the time. I needed a break from the break. I needed to see something green.
I always attempt self improvement, sometimes it works better than others. One of my more recent efforts involves becoming physically fit by riding my bicycle to work. Because of the vacation, I haven't been riding to work, but I have done a lot of walking, hiking, swimming with the kids, and other stuff to maintain what I've accomplished. On Sunday morning, the bicycle called to me.

"Go to Holloway Park," it said. "You'll gain blog material."

Hey it worked! I had fun riding there because the exercise I have been getting made the trip quick and easy. That increases the chances I'll keep getting up early on Sundays to do this trip. I also managed to see a few birds, 23 species to be exact, including some (like Laughing Gull) I hadn't seen at Holloway park in a while.
Sky was overcast, temps still warm. The dawn was gorgeous. First order of business was to ride my back down the dirt road to the area where people park who want to do the running trails. Looking over the grass fields for Killdeer and Eastern Meadowlarks, I only managed to spot various Grackles, and the Ospreys on their nests over on the ball field lights to the north of the park. No Killdeer, no Meadowlarks. I did spot one nice looking American Kestrel, and some Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks going to roost. After rechecking the birds around Lake Ann, I parked the bike against the fence and locked it up. Holloway has a "no bikes on the trails" policy, and I respect that.

Walking the trails revealed nothing highly unusual. There were higher than normal numbers of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers about, and that was about the only sign of migration I saw. There was a late seasoned Great Crested Flycatcher there that came out while I was pishing at the local Tufted Titmice. I hopped on the bike at about 5 to 9am, soaked in sweat and dew, and mashed pedals back home, happy to see birds, and to pedal my way there and back.

The next week I repeated, only instead of going out into the field first, I parked, and walked the trails first, the first thing I saw heading into the park was an Eastern Bluebird. I glanced briefly at the pond, confirmed it was still there, then beat feet. There's a couple of places at Holloway that I'm convinced are magical. I think that the next time I'm there, there will  be some heavy activity. There's the Poplar tree that I saw a mimid trifecta in a while back (Brown thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, and Gray Catbird all eating the same thing from the same tree!), and there's also the line of cypress trees that seem to offer so much at the right time. This time, there was still very little sign of migration. The weather was just too clear I think. Gnatcatchers and a Northern Parula were all that was there to scratch the listing itch. The bird watcher in me though noticed a change on the local birds. They were looking very frazzled. The Tufted Titmice were missing tail feathers, and mockingbirds all were very gray and worn looking. Cardinal tails could barely be called tails, and the Boat-Tailed Grackles could barely be called that. Soon they'll be full on no tail grackles.

I took the trip around the parking area on bike, still no Eastern Meadowlarks, no shrikes, couldn't even scare up a Killdeer. That day, I did see Barn Swallows for the first time at Holloway. That's one of those birds that's been on my list of  "I ought to be seeing these here, and I haven't yet". So are Chimney Swifts. Soon they'll be gone south I suppose.

I mashed pedals hard on the way home, burning off energy and stoking the thirst to keep up this trend.
We'll see how it goes tomorrow.