Today I visited Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park, south east of Orlando. The cold front that rolled through yesterday brought a significant change in temperatures. This morning, when I got to the park, it was in the low 50's and very windy. This was not really cold to me, but it was cold according to the locals. The wind made it feel even colder.
The cold and the wind, I think, kept the birds down. Either that, or Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park is just not that birdy to begin with. It was an interesting park. On the plus side, it was large. Several miles of trails wind through it and I hardly saw any other people while I was there. On the other hand, the habitat seemed somewhat monotonous. I only explored the southern part of the park, which excluded a section that might have had different habitat (I think). But in the part that I did explore, it was pretty much the same habitat except with varying amounts of time since there was a controlled burn. In terms of birds, there were a good number of birds of prey to be seen, and occasionally there were pockets of songbirds flitting about.
When I got too hungry to explore anymore, I headed out, grabbed some food, and then checked out a couple more parks. First, I ate my lunch in a place called Moss Park. This was not the type of park I am interested in. It was much more a place for families to come and picnic and grill and swim and fish, than a wildlife reserve. On the other hand, there were a pair of Sandhill Cranes here that seemed fairly tolerant of humans. I suspect they are getting food handouts, which is bad, but they let me get fairly close for some pictures, which is cool (they may even be resident...the link I included above includes a photo of a pair of Sandhill Cranes). On the odd side: the park charges you $1 to get in, and insists on giving you a receipt for that $1 entry fee. I wonder how much money it costs per person to print those receipts, buy the paper and ink the receipts are printed on, and to keep the machine that prints them in good working order?
Next I visited Tibet-Butler Preserve. This is a smallish park on a lake that is otherwise getting houses built all the way around it. It is a nice park. There is an interesting visitor center, and several trails to walk (with more on the way). There were not tons of birds, but I suspect that condition was more because of the time of day (mid-afternoon) than something that generally affects the park. At the edge of the park next to the lake, I saw an Osprey nearly knock an Anhinga out of a tree. I even have before and after photos, but I did miss the actual point of contact between the two birds.