Saturday, November 19, 2011

Big bird, small feeder...

In October and into early November, we have had frequent visits from two seperate groups of Sandhill Cranes, a pair and a group of three. The first pair were obviously old pros at bird feeders and soon found the ones in the garden. It took only two visits from these magnificent birds for them to clean out the small feeder you see in the photo.

My apologies for the poor image quality, it was taken through a dirty window. Any time I would go outside to photograph them eating from the feeder, they would walk away from it. I however did find it somewhat hysterical to see a bird of their sheer size eating from a feeder designed for small songbirds etc.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birding in the U.S.A

Well it's about time that I got around to writing up something here for people to read. I've been meaning to, I'm just so far behind that it's hard to get the motivation or know where to begin. So this is more just an overview of what I've been seeing since I arrived at the end of July.

Northern Cardinal (male)

Since I got to the states, I've seen 34 new species of birds. Which seems like a big acheivement, but it's mostly because I really haven't seen that many different birds yet. Most of what I see is the regulars around the woods and lakes that I commonly walk by once or twice a week from the house (if I'm motivated enough to get out of bed early). Many of these common species are quite challenging such as the Belted Kingfisher which is very shy and will fly away at the first hint of your approach, so there's been no close encounters with them. I'm still trying to get decent images of all the woodpecker species, though I have managed a decent image of a female Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker (female)

In the past couple of weeks, we have been having frequent visits to the house by two small groups of Sandhill Cranes, at first it was the same pair visiting every day, and they would stand and eat the seed from the bird feeder which is conveniently located at head height for them. It's quite a sight to see such a large bird feeding from a feeder designed to accomodate small passerines.

Sandhill Crane

We often see Osprey soaring above the lake behind the house, and I have on one occasion seen an immature Bald Eagle circling in the distance. Most often you see Black, or Turkey Vultures or the resident Red-shouldered Hawks. I see the hawks often, once an adult feeding on a snake, and another time, two immature birds which I would hazard a guess belong to the resident adult pair.

Red-shouldered Hawk (immature)

Red-shouldered Hawk (adult)

I've seen quite a few new beach and wading birds as we've been on day trips to Sanibel Island and Anna-Maria Island so I saw some new terns, wading birds and several Magnificent Frigatebirds. A recent walk with a local 'bird man' who runs monthly bird watching trips enabled me to see some more species as well, including Wood Duck and Black-crowned Night Heron which were spotted by other people on the walk and I was able to confirm the ID from what I saw. There is another walk this month at a coastal reserve, so that should certainly yeild some more birds.


Since it's autumn and the weather is cooling down, there are also a lot of migrating birds passing through Florida, so I've seen a few warblers and other birds that are seasonal residents or just passing through. It makes it interesting because warblers often have a lot of different plumage stages and can be tricky to ID, along with being small and quick. So everything is a learning curve.

Palm Warbler (winter plumage)

Other wildlife that I've seen includes frogs, turtles (including a slider that we saved from being run over because it was too slow crossing the road!), alligators, wild pigs, snakes, marsh rabbits and as usual, a plethora of squirrels. Here's hoping to many more.

Florida Marsh Rabbit