a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bohemian Waxwings

I noticed a flock of birds landing in the trees by the road and rushed to get my binoculars. They were definitely waxwings and looked to be all the same size. They were Bohemian waxwings! We have two types in southern Vermont, the cedar waxwing being the most common, is smaller than the Bohemian. In the winter, if we're lucky, we might see an occasional Bohemian in with a group of cedar waxwings. But this flock was entirely Bohemians and I counted 140 in this picture alone.

 Bohemian waxwings are larger and grayer than the cedars but the best distinguishing markers are the reddish-orange color under the tail (undertail coverts) and the yellow and white pattern in the wings.

The destination of these beautiful birds was an old apple tree with a season of apples still hanging from the branches. They feasted for a while then something spooked the flock and they took off for destination unknown. I was lucky to be at the right place at just the right time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sharp-shinned Hawk

A nice surprise this morning was a sharp-shinned hawk sitting atop the bird feeders. Moments before, the feeders were bustling with common redpolls, pine siskins, chickadees and goldfinches.

The Sharp-shinned is our smallest accipiter (long-tailed hawk with short, rounded wings). The typical flight is several short quick beats and a sail. The Sharpie is the most common accipiter in the East, the other two being the Cooper's and Northern Goshawk. The sharpie and the cooper's hawks can be difficult to distinguish, but the sharpie has a smaller head and square, notched tail which is easily seen in the photo.

I was just about to go out the front door with the dogs for our morning run, so Gerry snapped this action picture just as the Sharpie took off.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Birds of Broward and Palm Beach Counties

 Here's more of the birds I saw in Florida! Above is a tri-colored heron and glossy ibis. Love the tri's reflection in the water.

 Anhinga and great blue heron. 

Juvenile great blue heron and pied-billed grebe.

 Cattle egret

Green heron (photo taken on the boardwalk looking down)

 American bittern


 sandhill crane

Lesser black-backed gull

White ibis were probably the most common large bird we saw. They were all over the place; at the wetlands, along the roadsides, front lawns and the cemetery!

adult and juvenile white ibis

Burrowing owls at a ball park! We saw 5 owls and lots of their burrows.

We visited Wakodahatchee wetlands, Loxahatchee NWR, Plantation Preserve, Evergreen Cemetery, Green Cay, Brian Piccolo Park, SW Regional Library Trail, Chapel Trail Nature Preserve, Okeeheelee, Hugh Taylor Birch Park, Deerfield Island, Mills Pond Park, Snyder Park and the Fort Lauderdale Beach! Plus the accidentals we saw at other various locations around the area!! The best bird (and a lifer) was the spot-breasted oriole we saw as we were walking back to the condo! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Domesticated But Now on Their Own

 There's a lot of birds in Florida, especially in the southern part, that were released or escaped from captivity. The purple swamphen is probably the latest that has established a feral population and it's impact on the environment is being studied. Although similar to the purple gallinule, swamphens are larger and more chicken-like.

Muscovy Ducks are another escapee from domestic stock. The true, wild birds are found in Mexico.

African or Swan Goose (top) and Egyptian Goose (above) are becoming more common. Two years ago when I was visiting the area I didn't see any, this year we saw quite a few.

Blue-crowned, Monk and Nanday (black-hooded) parakeets are among the over 25 species of parrots, parakeets, macaws and others in the parrot family, now on their own in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. The nice part about locating them is how noisy they are! Wow! The cooing of a mourning dove is a hardly a whisper compared to the raucous cacophony these birds create. But they are big and colorful!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wakodahatchee, Del Ray, Florida birds

Just got back from a week's trip to Florida to bird with my best birding friend, Ron. I saw 98 species in a week as compared to the 43 species I'd seen here in Vermont since January! I took this picture of a tricolored heron, as I was looking towards the sun, (something we are always told not to do) but the result was terrific.

One of the highlights of the 40 species we saw here was this beautiful Roseate Spoonbill. A large pink wading bird with a flat, spatulate bill that is swung from side to side when feeding in shallow water.

I added a few "lifers" while in Florida, the black-bellied whistling duck was one. In amongst the reeds are about 8 or so, we saw 22 at this site.

  They have bright pink bill, white ring around the eye and are gray and chestnut colored with black bellies.

Moorhens like this one pictured and American coots were common as were blue-winged teal, glossy ibis and great-blue herons.
After our trip here we went back to Fort Lauderdale for a walk on the beach. As I walked barefoot in the surf I felt a pang of guilt knowing that Gerry was back in Vermont shoveling snow.................