Thursday, January 21, 2016

Short trip to Florida

Florida Scrub Jay, Canaveral National Seashore, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Just back from a short trip down to the Orlando Florida area arriving there last Friday and staying until Wednesday morning giving me a total of four full days down there. Overall fairly decent weather (or at least a lot nicer than the weather at home!).
Yellow rumped Warbler, Southport Rd, Poinciana, FL, Jan 16, 2016
Yellow throated Warbler, Disney Wilderness Preserve, FL, Jan 16, 2016
Eastern Meadowlark, Southport Rd, Poinciana, FL, Jan 16, 2016
Pine Warbler, Disney Wilderness Preserve, FL, Jan 16, 2016
Brown headed Nuthatch, Disney Wilderness Preserve, FL, Jan 16, 2016
On Saturday I headed south to a few different spots. My first stop around sunrise was to the Southport Road area and out to the south part of Lake Toho. I had the typical open country birds on the drive down the road but the lake itself was fairly quiet. Always nice to see birds like Eastern Meadowlarks, Sandhill Cranes, Crested Caracara and many others. Once it hit nine I headed over to the Disney Wilderness Preserve and spent a few hours walking several miles of trails in among the longleaf pine savannah habitat. I had some good birds including three Red cockaded Woodpeckers, a pair of Brown headed Nuthatches excavating a nest hole and a total of seven species of warblers with most in a large mixed species flock that contained Black and White, Orange crowned, Yellow throated, Yellow rumped, Pine and Palm Warblers (added Common Yellowthroat elsewhere). As it got close to noon time I arrived at the north end of Lake Toho at the Lakeshore Park but there was some festival going on and the place was mobbed with hardly any parking available.

On Sunday morning the expected severe thunderstorms rolled through but were mainly over by daybreak. I headed a bit north to Tibet Butler Preserve after dawn to check out the area. Unfortunately the heavy rain made all the trails I tried to take totally flooded out. I tried a few other areas but they were also flooded.
Osprey, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Congregation of waders, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Roseate Spoonbill, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Roseate Spoonbill, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Glossy Ibis, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Monday morning I headed out before dawn to make the drive out to Merritt Island NWR along the coast. I arrived there just before dawn and took the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. The water throughout the various impoundments was quite high which kept shorebird numbers lower than usual. Loads of other birds around including lots of waders and waterfowl. Although it started out fairly cool it warmed up a bit but the increasing breezy kept it feeling cold. Some good photo ops over the course of the drive as always. Also had a run in with a couple of fine examples of the Florida education system. I stopped at a spot about half way out on the one way wildlife drive and noticed a pick up pulled out on the side of the road under a sign saying "No boat launching, no fishing from wildlife drive". As you can guess the two teenagers had unloaded their boat and fishing gear right under the sign and were trying to figure out how to get all their gear in the boats. I asked them if they knew there was no boat launching or fishing from the drive. They answered no, they had no idea (perhaps the ten foot long sign was too big or contained too many words). They loaded up their there stuff and then passed by me several minutes later going the wrong one on the wildlife drive. I watched as they tried to get by all the other cars going the correct way on the one way road and they nearly backed over the one way road signs. On the upside they were not rude just not too swift on the uptake.
Florida Scrub Jay, Canaveral National Seashore, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Loggerhead Shrike, Canaveral National Seashore, FL, Jan 18, 2016
Bobcat, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 18, 2016
After the wildlife drive I headed over to the Canaveral National Seashore but not before running across a Bobcat running across the road. The road into the national seashore featured a family group of the endemic Florida Scrub Jay and they poised nicely for some photos. The beach itself was very windy and cool with some in waves but did feature some birds not seen elsewhere plus a few dolphins just off shore. On my way back out of the seashore I took a detour down Biolab Road which looks like it could be great at low tide for shorebirds but I hit the area around high tide...maybe next time I will hit it at the right time.

After my time in the Merritt Island area I headed a bit south to the Blue Heron Wetland and spent a little time there before heading back to the Orlando area. The wetland area was fairly quiet but had a decent selection of waders as well as hundreds of coots and good numbers of Common Gallinules. Overall a nice day with some really good birds and lots of sun.

Tuesday I was feeling a bit under the weather so I didn't venture too far away from the hotel so I didn't add much to my sightings for the trip.

The weather here at home continues to be more January like with some fairly cold temperatures but still not as bad as last year and still no major storms.  I managed to add a single new species for the county this year when I had a Yellow bellied Sapsucker (#81) in Florence today.

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