Monday, December 18, 2006

About Biking...

Whether birding or not, biking is great. Many of the birding trips I take I've done from the top of my wife's bike, or my own. The near silence of pedaling is something I cherish. One thing sticks out about biking about all else, it connects me with the trail. When I hike, or walk a trail, it's about the step, one step to the next, the jarring of each step adding to the slight ache of my feet. I hardly feel anything else but my chest moving up and down. When I bike, I feel my hands, my arms, my chest, my eyes, my legs, my knees, and I notice my feet less. It's like I'm something else besides feet!

That's a big deal for someone who's a geek like me.

So biking is great...
buff singletrack, or roadside, it's all good to me.

As far as birds go:
The story is now about American White Pelicans...

GB and KT

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Katie's Snowy.

This article is about the Bird, and the Baby. My KT is a wonderful girl. I know that I've got the greatest kid in the world ;-) but she is constantly surprising me with what she does. As I've mentioned, she went to the beach for the first time last month, and one thing we did there was chase birds. I don't know if we've got a junior twitcher on our hands or what, but she definately enjoyed persuing the birds at the beach, even if they weren't exactly rarities. When we arrived, there was an interesting dynamic amoung the birds. The Snowy Egret shown in this picture hunted the surf. Female and male Boat-Tailed Grackles dabbled in the surf, getting whatever tidbits they could off the retreating waves. I was amazed at the snowy, it seemed to be extremely successful in catching things in the surf. I watched several small minnows meet their end at the "tip of the spear" at it were. The grackles noticed this success, and as grackles are wont to do, harried the snowy from time to time to try to get in on the action. They weren't so successful. When KT got down to the surf, she chose the biggest bird to chase first. The snowy flew off, obviously use to such harrassment because of the grackles. Then my baby turned her face to the grackles, and began to squeal with delight. I don't know if it was because there were so many of them (about a dozen in the immediate area) or because their dark bodies contrasted more with the light sand, but she definately gave them a run for their money. The snowy allowed me pretty close observation while KT chased grackles about.
There is something special about the beach, and birds in the surf.

GB and KT bid you "Good day."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Here's My Girl!

It occurred to me that I don't have a photo of myself and KT up on any of my blogs. My wife has one, but the pic is a little old, 4th of July.
So here's my picture, and my girl too!

An Attempt at Some Pictures...

Ok, So this is a picture I took on Last Monday's outing. I call it Two Blues because it features a Little Blue and Great Blue Heron. Camera was a Digital Rebel, stock zoom lens at f5.6, 55mm. Don't remember the speed, and I used an image editor to colorbalance and crop the picture. It's an experimental picture with interesting subject Matter. Earlier in the month, Katie, Mommy, and me went to Daytona to visit my parents. They have a timeshare there, and I actually got some good pictures there too. One picture I consider to be a quality image is of a snowy Egret. I had to crop it to get the right composition, as I only have one lense at the moment. i think I might offer prints of it for sale to help raise money for lenses, bicycles, bins, scopes, etc. so you guys can have something really great to read and look at and not just my usual drivel.
I'll post the snowy on another post, keep the downloading easy. We rode today also, and I'll have to look at the pictures I took of an anhinga. With a 600mm lense, it would have been a snap to get a good one.
Have fun with yer Kids, it's the best time I've ever had!

GB and KT

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yes, I have been Birding...

But this is primarily about my Daughter's recent birding adventures! :-)
Little Katie Rosie is a great observer of the birding scene, more so
than you may even realize. She's 17 Months old now, and went to the
beach this last Sunday for the first time. What a great time! I don't
know if you've ever been to the beach with a small child, but they give
you a whole new perspective. We observed some of the usual beach
birds, peeps, willet, and Brown Pelicans were abundant. Boat Tailed
grackles foraged in the surf. These fascinated little Katie. She
chased them and chased them and chased them until they got tired of it,
and flew way on down the beach, and then, Katie, squealing like a happy
little piglet, ran as fast as she could to get them. We also chased
around a Snowy Egret that was catching minnows in the surf. I actually
got some good video showing that.

Riding has been sporatic. We can't ride Tuesdays and Thursday
because I have school. We went once last week, on Monday, and Today.
I'll try to make it out at least every Mon, Wed, and Fri. There are a
lot more coots now at Hollingsworth than the last time Katie and I rode
out. I guess migration is in full swing for this quaint little water
chicken. Saw some wood storks today, and a ring billed gull. Other
than that it was the usual suspects, Moorhens, Gallinules, Grackles,
White Ibis, an Osprey, limpkin, Great egret, Tri-colored heron, and
blue Jay. Saw an unidentified tern, and a new (for lake
Hollingsworth) Raptor: Red-Shouldered Hawk.
I might try to get out to Carter Road Saturday. My bike needs to be
Until then!

GB and KT say to you: "Happy Trails!"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heat, Rain, Sick Katie...

All conspire against me like nobodies business.
But we finally got a chance to at least take a walk around the neighborhood. Katie saw Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers for the first time, but that was our only real new bird persay. If a flicker would have appeared we would have a woodpecker trifecta, as DOWO and RBWO were both in abundance and active like nothing goin'.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ivory-bills LiVE!!: -- The Rumor Mill --

Ivory-bills LiVE!!: -- The Rumor Mill --
I hope this bird lives, and in my state. If it does, I'll be after it. There's been a buncha talk on BirdForum about the IBWO possibly being sited here or there, but something that seems to be quiet is a thread started about a near Tallahassee sighting. I'll let you find it out.
I appreciate the scepticism shared in much of the community about the Arkansas sighting. I think it will be born out in the end to be a true sighting.

The GB and KT Kinda Nearly Multi-Time Weekly Bird Sighting Update
Ok, so maybe that's a long title, but hey, I like extremes. Shortly after 10:30 today Katie and I took a short bikeride. I was short because of rain. Fortunately, I decided to turn around before it started to rain, but we still got wet. For birsd, we only saw two species, Red Bellied Woodpecker, and Blue Jay. We really weren't out all that long. It's been a pretty rainy day today. We've been needing it, but I hope it clears up by Monday, which will be my next opportunity for some serious birding.
We shall see!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Getting Outside

I have to go to school today.

Yesterday Katie and I didn't ride our bikes, but we did spend a lot of time playing in the yard. I believe it's important to play with your kids. It teaches them that they are important to you, and that you enjoy being with them. She has this little plastic fairie doll, and we took it all over the porch!

Keeping your kids busy teaches them to think. I taught Katie to "Whish" her little doll, she'll hold it by the string on the back, and twirl it around saying "Whish" making this little fairie girl fly. I guess you could count that as a bird ;-). We did see a few bird species, two Northern Flickers, many Blue Jays, a Northern Cardinal, and the resident Mockingbirds. Not many birds in all, but considering that it was hot, and Katie hasn't been too enthusiastic about riding out in the heat, I was glad to leave the Bike home. So maybe tomorrow I can bird it out to Circle B Bar ranch. Dunno yet.

Now I gots to get me ready for school.
I can't wait to see more ducks as the season rolls in! I know most people get excited about warblers, but I like waterfowl...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lucky 13 and a 'Tern' for the Better...

One trying, one good adventure today,
The Katie and I walked a bit of Lake Hollingsworth today, and it tried our patience a little bit. It's amazing how hot it ges so quickly 10:30 is too late to go out really, it gets to be 90 quick. We managed about 30 minutes out, driving to the lake and back included. That netted 13 species: Osprey, American Anhinga, White Ibis Common Moorhen, Mottled Duck, Great Egret, Great-blue Heron, boat-tailed Grackle, Purple Gallinule, Green Heron, and Mallard Duck.
Now you will only count twelve kinds of birds in that list. That's because today I saw the first Blue Wing Teal of the season! These little squealers are one of my favorite ducks. I really like all ducks, and because Anas Discors is an early migrator it's one of the first ducks that's not a mottled, or a domesticated duck. They were still a little young, three of them in all.
After Kelly returned home, I decided to do a little biking and a birding solo style. This time I stayed out an hour and fifteen minutes, and saw more bird species.
The ride down Collins St. caught me a Cardinal, a female, flying into a group of bushes. Once I got to the lake, I noticed, right off the bat, Common Moorhens, Mallard Duck, and Limpkin. Right past the Limpkin, a couple of White Ibis. Then a family of Pied billed Grebes swam through the weeds, the juveniles still begging from the adults. I got some video of it, we'll see how it turns out. Can we say "YouTube"? Although, it would be nice to have something high resolution. They are really kinda pretty when they are young. The heads are streaky, and they look interesting. Adult pied-bills are definately built for survival, not aestetics. I guess what they lack in appearance they make up for in style, sinking out of sight and all. I also taped an American Anhinga in a tree. Got a great look at a calling, and flying Belted Kingfisher. Far away in the rushes, I spied Red-winged blackbirds, and boat-tailed grackles, still looking shabby. Moving along, I took a right and peddled down the lakeshore multiuse path. The peddle produced Double Crested Comorant, Great Egret (got video), mottled duck, tricolored heron, Purple gallinule, and Great Blue Heron.
Things got really interesting on the North side of the Lake, toward the Florida Southern college campus. I found terns! Three species, to be exact. Two of the species were definately Forsters and Gull-billed (A great bird for me, lifer!), the third I'm not sure about. Peterson had me thinking "Royal". It had a fully black cap, and solid colored Orange bill, but Sibley said that they should have lost their solid black cap by now. It showed no crest, but I know that's not a good diagnostic tool all the time. I'll have to chalk it up to "dunno". While I was deciding what to call who and what, I did spy near me, a Little Blue Heron. Fully blue, and beautiful. Also noted were hovering Ospreys, and a Snowy Egret. I saw rain accross the lake, looked like it was coming my way, so I skeedaddled my way around. When I got around, the rain threat appeared less, so I managed to pick an American Coot out of the weeds. On the ride home, I picked up a few more "yardbirds" so to speak, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, and Blue Jay.
In all, a different day.
I would like to say that it is important to have good quality optics out there. My bins are great, but a scope would have been better on those terns. I tried using the video on the terns, but it didn't do too well, come to think of it, it doesn't do well unless there's a lot of light, and the object is within say, 30 yards. Those terns were a good ways out, prolly at least 50 if not 60 or more yards. The pitching bouys, constant wind, and overcast skys didn't help any. So, someone please feel free to donate a diascope!
until then,
GB & KT bid you good birding.

I start school tomorrow, so there prolly won't be a report.
One day this site will look like These guys. Well the picture parts at least :)
Another good site with lots of pictures is this Canadian. I don't think I've ever seen a Brown Thrasher look that good!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back in the Saddle Creek Park Again...

Made it to the first official (Lake Region) Audubon field trip to "Ye Olde Stompin' Grounds", Saddle Creek Park. Discovered it's a fifteen minute ride there from my house, wonder how long it will take via bike. Need to measure the distance first.
Let me discribe the scene as I pulled up this morning.
When I bird this park, I start by birding from my truck, taking in whatever waders and wet habitat birds are around. The old mine pits hold water, and are used as fishing ponds by locals, both people and birds. They tell me the fishing is pretty good, but I haven't had much luck there yet. I mostly don't have time to fish. Like most Americans my age (28 right now, birthday in October, if you want to buy me a present!) I schedule away my time, but I think I do a pretty good job of getting my priorities straight. My daughter knows who I am, and comes running, and most of the time, she's my little sidekick. It was nice to have my whole brain to devote to finding and identifying birds for a change.
The amount of birds these ponds hold amazes me. I found several dozen, if not hundreds of BOAT TAILED GRACKLES at the turn in, hanging out at the local bait shop. A huge flock of WOOD STORKS flew up as I started my way. I thought to myself, "it's going to be a good day". All the way back, I found some more of "the Usual Suspects", AMERICAN ANHINGA, WHITE IBIS, MOURNING DOVE, GREAT EGRET, and GREAT BLUE HERON. At one pond, I watched, amazed as several BARN SWALLOWS swooped the water for drinks and bugs. Toward the gunrange I found NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, and BELTED KINGFISHER.
Phase two involved the rest of the birders with Lake Region Audubon, and entails the areas around parking, including the entryway onto the "Tenorac Trail." It costs $3 to actually do the trail, so we didn't do that. I guess that makes us all cheap! One day I'll actually do the trail, though, maybe when I get a little more cabbage. The cheary notes of NORTHERN CARDINALS and BLUE JAYS greeted us, and we experienced our first migrants. I found a RED EYED VIREO and CAROLINA WREN waiting in the tree tops. Across the pond at our little parking area, I spied a LIMPKIN, while a COMMON MOORHEN swam in the water. A pair of LOGGER HEADED SHRIKES perched atop a little picnic shelter, and our first of several (thousand it seemed) BLUE GREY GNATCATCHERS appeared. A DOWNY WOODPECKER cheered us on, and the NORTHERN PARULAS turned out in force. As we arrived at the trailhead (the free one that is) we spied two TRI COLORED HERONS as they flew accross the pond.
The "Good Part" as it were, is the story along the trail itself. It holds the migrants, and really keeps you on your toes at times. The great part to me is that water habitat and wood habitat are in such close proximity, you could find a heron and a warbler within a few steps of each other. The bugs weren't too bad, but I will have to remember my bugspray next time. High in a tree, we found PRAIRIE WARBLERS. It seemed odd to me, I've usually found them about eye level. Then we found a great bird, a YELLOW BILLED CUCKOO, a pair actually, eating a bug. Good job, is what I thought! I personally got excited over a RED BELLIED WOODPECKER. Since it was specie number two in the woodpecker catagory, I felt a woodpecker trifecta coming. I will keep birding all day to complete a trifecta. Trifectas come in several varieties, woodpecker, mimids, and swallow are the most common. There's also a Heron Perfecta, when I see all the local species of heron, but I've only scored that once (Stupid cattle egrets can be notoriously hard to find around here.) Then we got a great look at a female YELLOW WARBLER, several BLACK AND WHITE WARBLERS, and a TUFTED TITMOUSE. Soon after, toward the middle of the trail, we found GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER and AMERICAN REDSTARTS. The little fireballs were active!
I completed the woodpecker trifecta with some great looks at a PILEATED WOODPECKER. As I pointed out an anhinga on a branch to a lady from Connecticut, an OSPREY flew overhead. At a clear spot in the forest, we had decent looks at an odd looking WHITE EYED VIREO. It was in the throws of molt, and had no tail feathers. The final bird to note was YELLOW THROATED WARBLER a bird which eluded me a great deal of the day, but others had noted. I left about 11:00 AM, but the trip was going strong. I'm sure other species would have appeared.
Me and Katie are definately going to take a walk there soon.
Until the Next Hollingsworth report,

Friday, August 18, 2006

Gardening Suggestions?

The Wife and I are going to start doing some landscaping and I am thinking about making our backyard hummingbird enabled for the winter. Any suggestions?
I am thinking liquid feeders this year, while we decide what needs to stay and what needs to go in the backyard. We have a shady yard, and a partially built back porch or add-on room. My dream yard would have a vertical antenna tower for amateur radio (My other hobby), composting barrell. I would redesign our shed to include space for the lawnmower. There would be a water feature involving several levels and depths. I would probably keep little fishes (Mosquitofish, aka potgut minnows in Cheneyville, LA) in the bottom to feed herons. I bought a book at Lowes today called "Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife" published by the National Wildlife Federation.

We'll see how it goes!

GB & KT Hoyt

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again...

So after a brief hiatus in activity, Katie and I decided to get a movin, and got back on the bike. It was a much better experience than it was last week, when all the sitting from the two days before stole the desire to sit anymore from our bottoms.
It was an absolutely beautiful day for riding. We started out early (for us) at about 9:50 or so, and carried on our way. Katie talked the whole way down, practicing her words as we rode along. Once we arrived at Lake Hollingsworth, we both began watching for birds. I know Katie is looking at them because of the interest she shows, especially for the larger waders and the "Water Chickens", coots, moorhens, and gallinules. Today I actually kept a list so I could see on paper the species I saw in the water, and on the shore.

It was a day of the "Usual Suspects":

Common Moorhen
Snowy Egret (Katie really liked this one, I showed her the birds black legs with yellow feet, and she pointed at it.)
Common Grackle
Great Egret
American Anhinga (Well represented, at least 7 sunning birds scattered about the lake)
Tri Colored heron
Great Blue Heron
Mallard Duck (Not the fat barnyard kind either, also some possible intergrade between mottled and mallards)
Purple Gallinule
White Ibis
Pied Billed Grebe (Very close to shore, and eating a fish)
Mottled Duck (A family, seperate from the mallards.)
Boat Tailed Grackle (not looking very boat-tailed right now :))
Blue Jay
Northern Mockingbird (Possibly a thrasher as well, couldn't nail it, Katie and I were moving too fast.)
Mourning Dove
Double Crested Comorant
We added Little Blue Heron (imm, changing to blue) to our list.
American Coot.

Our birds of note were
Very young and fuzzy Common Moorhen chicks (I didn't realize they would breed this late)
Various Larids, Probably ring-billed gulls, possibly a laughing (one was just small enough to be) and a tern, Probably Forster's. It's hard to tell with a 15 mo old on the back of the bike.
Something very migrantish. Mostly yellow, felt heavy like a vireo, but all I caught were two quartering glances, no head views, and the yellowness of the bird stood out. Two shades of yellow. Dark olive, and light olive my first impression was "Prothonotary Warbler" (FOS!), but the left part of my brain kicked in, and said "nope, no, don't rush to judgement, evaulate, then catagorized" I didn't get enough input to finish the evaluation.
Saturday I plan to go snag some migrants as I get
"Back in the Saddle Creek Park Again..."
Take Care!
GB & KT Hoyt

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Change in Routine

Ok, So it's been a crazy weekend.
No biking and no birding saturday or sunday. On Monday, I was working with a friend of mine in Orlando, so nothing then either. It's still hot outside, so I decided that Katie and I needed to stay a little closer to home and not work as hard. We went for a walk today instead, started out about 10:45, Got back about 11:15. In reality we walked for as long as we usually bike, but I don'twork nearly as hard walking as biking. I also took along some binoculars, a field guide, and a notepad for recording what we saw. Most noteworthy birds were a family (I suppose) of Northern Flickers, foraging on the ground. There were at least three seperate birds, possibly more. If the Katie wakes up in time, we are going to try hitting Saddle Creek Park.
Until Then,
GB & KT bid you good day!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lake Hollingsworth Report!

This is your lakeland report from the bicycling birder and his Scout,

Katie and I spun around the lake, cranberry juice and water alone are
not sufficient to ward off the heat.
It's way to hot to do anything for long outside! A quick look at the
weather says if we can't get out there before 8, we should forget it
for at least a week.

Still we managed the following non-scoped, non-binoculared observations:

The Ususal Suspects

Common Moorhens
Mottled Duck
Mallard Duck
Blue Jay (Katie calls them boojays)
Double Crested comorant (only 1, how strange)
White Ibis
Great Egret
Great blue heron
Snowy egret
Tri-color heron
Pied-billed grebe
Boat tailed grackle

Birds of note

Wood ducks (male and female)
American Coot (2 of them)
Something suspiciously tern-like rested atop some bouys across from
Florida Southern College. Felt very Forstery, didn't have bins to look.

all the little gallinules and moorhens are growing up!
The Adult purple gallinules were absent. Well, I should say they were
there, but not visible.
Remember we are on bicycle, and if Katie sees them, she only know how
to say "Purple Gallinule" in 15 month old, which to me sounds strangely
like the 15 month old phrase for "Please get me some cheezwhiz".

GB and KT Hoyt

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Thursday Report....

Short biking day,
I think poor Katie's bottom was a little sore from all the traveling we did yesterday. We started out excited. I told Katie we were going biking after our breakfast, and she went to the door, and excitedly patted it. When we got on the road it was a different story. It didn't take long for her to attempt a helmet and harness removal. A little less than half-way around, I stopped the bike, and we dismounted to romp around. We definately enjoyed that, although if I'da had some bread we could have fed some ducks and whatnot.
What will be, will be.
So let me give you some background, who I am, who Katie is, and what I like to call "The Usual Suspects".
I am Brandon Hoyt, eldest son of my Mother and Father. Currently, I am 28 years old (My birthday is October 26, so if you want to send me presents, keep that in mind ;), happily married, and Katie is my wife (Kelly) and I's first child. She was born May 6, 2005, and I couldn't ask for anything more precious in this world! She enjoys Lilo and Stitch, Elmo, and dancing. She does not enjoy being strapped down, so trips typically last about 2 hrs or less before stopping. I've been a birding since I was 8, in the summer of 1986 my family inherited a house in central Louisiana from my father's Aunt Jo. Included in the house were many books, one of which was a golden field guide. It was a thin book, and water damaged a long time ago, but something about it caught my eye. I remember thinking to myself, "wow, I can see birds almost everywhere!" Since my dad was in the Navy, I figured a portable hobby was a good idea. For Christmas that year, I got a pair of bushnell binoculars (7 by 35 just like I had read about in a book my grandmother had given me) Coupled with a love for small notebooks, and the outdoors in general, I stay hooked for life. Over the course of time, I've been (semi-)active in several chapters of the Audubon society, Duval (where I was the youngest member when I was 12, made lotsa meetings and field trips), Kissimmee Valley (made 3 meetings and 1 field trip in four years of college), Atlanta (never made a meeting, but made several field trips), and most recently Lake Regions (Current, made one field trip so far).

The "Usual Suspects" and "Bird of Note" (US or BN)

Sometimes I'll refer to a specie of bird as a US or a BN. The title explains the meaning. Some of the Usual Suspects around Lake Hollingsworth in lakeland are

Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Boat Tailed Grackle
Mottled Duck
Mallard Duck
Fish Crow
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Tri-Color (Louisiana always and forever to me) Heron
White Ibis
American Anhinga
Double Crested Comorant.

Some more common BN's are:

Pied billed Grebe (Especially when they have young! Been seein' a family of them lately)
Red Shouldered Hawk
Anything Baby. (mostly for the cuteness factor)

Some of these birds I see every day, some are not, if you want me to use the four letter abreviation for the names of the birds, Lemme know. I will prolly keep it longhand for now.
Thanks for reading!
GB and KT Hoyt

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A New Blog for Me and Katherine!

Katie Rosie (my Daughter) and I ride bikes almost every day.
I like to watch birds, and make lists.
This is a place for us to talk about what we see when we ride.
Stay Tuned!