Blue-winged Teal

More pictures from Orlando Wetlands Park. Here are a couple shots of a Blue-winged Teal stretching his wings. The pictures make it fairly obvious how the species got its name. The black bird in the front is an American Coot. The bird at the back that is obscured is a female Blue-winged Teal.

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal

White Ibis

I figure that I will deal with my pictures and blog posts from the Florida trip by attrition. Each night that I am at home I clean up a few pictures and, maybe, make a blog post with some of the better pictures.

Tonight I have more from Orlando Wetlands Park. This time the subject of choice is White Ibis. Here are three pictures: one wading, one in a tree and one in flight.

White Ibis
White Ibis
White Ibis


Last weekend I was in the Orlando Florida area. I am still trying to make time to go through all the pictures I took and hide the junk. The stuff left over after that process will be ideal candidates for a few blog posts.

I did finish going through the pictures that I took at Orlando Wetlands Park, but I only have time for one blog post this evening. The subject matter of choice for this one post is alligators. They were easily seen as you walked through the park. Here are three:

Basking Gator
Basking Alligator
Juvenile Gator

Merritt Island NWR

Today I drove out to Titusville and visited Merritt Island NWR. Specifically, I drove the Black Point Wildlife Drive. This is a one-way gravel road that winds through the reserve. This is the second time I have visited Merritt Island. Tammy and I visited in January 2006. This is a fantastic bird watching destination. I highly recommend it to anyone in the vicinity.

The refuge was quite active today. There were lots of birds to be seen as well as lots of humans driving their cars on the wildlife loop. I guess it is very nice that the refuge is so accessible (as long as you have a car), but it can get a tad annoying always having to make sure your car is out of the way in the event that you want to stop and look at something (and I stop frequently). It seems like there is always someone behind you who wants to go faster, or get by you. But I can deal with that. The bird watching opportunities are just too many to let the other people bother you. Everyone else seemed to have good manners and I think I was always out of the way when I stopped to gawk at some bird.

I took lots of pictures. There were plenty of options to capture some bird in a picture. Since I have not been able to store any of the pictures I have already taken on this trip (they are all still on my memory card), I actually had to search through the pictures I had already taken to find and delete some garbage pictures (those that were obviously out of focus) to make room. At the end of the day, I had a completely full memory card. I think there are somewhere between 400 and 500 pictures on that card. When I get back home, I will have lots of work to do getting all those pictures stored away in their proper place. And once that is done I will post some of the pictures I like the best to this blog.

Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park

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.


Okay. I was so excited earlier today when I used my fancy super-special technical genius to watch the weather radar to avoid getting soaked and electrocuted. All without any wires, inside my rental car, in the parking lot of the Orlando Wetlands Park.

I waited the rain out and then spent about three hours in the park. My arms are sunburned. I saw lots of interesting birds and took lots of pictures.

So tonight I planned on getting those pictures onto the computer so that I could take a closer look at them. Maybe even upload them to Phanfare and put a few in a blog post.

One problem. This damn work PC has no way of reading the memory card that my camera uses. No pictures to look at until I get home.


Wireless in Christmas

I am in Orlando for a work related conference. I have arrived, however, early enough to get a little birdwatching done. I flew into Orlando this morning and first thing headed in the direction of Orlando Wetlands Park. This park is actually located to the east of Orlando in a little town called Christmas.

Today is not a wonderfully sunny day. The wind is blowing and storm clouds are rolling by above me. There is a reasonable chance of rain, and the last thing I want to do is get caught out in this park when the rain starts, or worse, during a thunderstorm.

Since I am here in Orlando for work, I have my work laptop and an "aircard" that let's me access the Internet via Verizon's cellular network. So, at the moment, I am writing this blog post from the air conditioned comfort of my rental car, while I sit in the parking lot of the park. In another browser window I have the new interactive weather map from open and repeatedly animating the radar image across the Orlando area. I probably have an hour to wait before the rain comes and goes. Then I think I will be in the clear. Later tonight, if all goes well, I will post some pictures. At a minimum I will edit this post to include some links for the places & names I referenced above.

Backyard Birds

Today was much colder than yesterday, but still sunny. This afternoon I took a moment to sit outside (in the cold...I was bundled up) to watch the birds come to the feeders. I sat on the steps of my deck with my camera in hand. If I do not move, the birds quickly adjust to my presence, despite the fact that I am only about fifteen feet away. Either that, or they were really hungry.

Here are my three favorite photos: Carolina Chickadee with seed in beak, Mourning Dove and Downy Woodpecker.

Carolina Chickadee
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker

Warm March Saturday = DGCA

Today was an above average warm day in March. Even better, it was a Saturday and it was very sunny. If there was any downside to be discovered, it was the wind. It was quite windy today. So windy that it was sometimes annoying. For example, it can be hard to hold a camera on subject and keep it focused when the subject is flying around, and the wind is gusting hard enough to push you a bit, and you are using a 400mm lens.

Anyway, because it was so nice out, Tammy and I decided to visit Dutch Gap Conservation Area (DGCA). Actually, to be precise, I announced that I was going to DGCA last night and asked Tammy if she wanted to come along. She politely obliged. She tolerates me very nicely. And if you have not noticed yet, my "I am going bird watching at the last minute" location of choice in the Richmond area is DGCA.

Here are a couple pictures from the trip. The first is of a Red-shouldered Hawk. He was hanging out in a tree near the visitor center parking lot. If I remember correctly, there have been nesting Red-shouldered Hawks very near this parking lot the past two springs. As I walked below this particular hawk to take pictures, he watched a hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The second picture is of a festival of turtles. Or something like that. That log was quite the popular turtle sunning station. There were probably another four turtles, further to the right on this log, that had found spots to soak up the sun.

Basking Turtles