More Lifers, including my “goal” bird!

OK – I’m a bit pissed off because my latest draft was “deleted” somehow.  I will now re-create the day we were out last week, which was followed by 3 days for Bill’s work, etc.  I’M NOT A HAPPY CAMPER!

Nov. 23rd (or so) – It was still a bit hot, but not in the 30’s.  About 26 & mostly sunny.  We headed off to the Indian River Buffer Preserve to search for the elusive Red-cockaded Woodpecker (& whatever else we could find, including manatees!)

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The best we could do in the woodpecker dept was the banded tree where it nests!

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This is long-leafed pine territory again (just like at Jerry & Dale’s place).

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On a long walk we did find a large flock of birds in the trees & captured this Downy Woodpecker (which is much smaller than the quest bird).

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This bird is a LIFER!  Little did we know that this large flock of unidentified (at the time) birds would yield a Lifer!  It was only after we returned home & looked at hundreds of Bill’s photos on the computer that we found out it was a Pine Warbler!  We’ve never seen one before – Yay!  They were feeding high in the pines as well on the ground, so no give-away as far as habits were concerned.  We also identified a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo & Red-bellied Woodpecker in this group.

We headed into Fellsmere for lunch, then returned to drive along the other side of the buffer zone.  A small canal ran parallel to us & we spotted a few nice birds here.

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This is a Female Anhinga with the creamy neck, drying her wings.

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A male flew by – he has a black neck – he’s not really just a silhouette.

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This elegant Little Blue Heron struck a pose.

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A Glossy Ibis is much smaller than its cousin, the White Ibis.  It is sitting amongst one of the most beautiful water plants I’ve ever seen – water hyacinth.

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At the end of the trail, we found a large group of grackles & blackbirds making quite a racket.  This Boat-tailed Grackle (which is nearly 17″ long) has a hilarious “song” & certainly makes a spectable of itself when it sings!  If you have a bird app, give it a play.  Not quite a hilarious as a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but a close second!

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Also in the area was a dozing group of Snowy Egrets.

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They look more elegant when they land.  What beautiful feathers – like angels’ wings.

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As we turned for home, we spotted a couple of Roseate Spoonbills taking off.  Bill leapt out of the truck with his camera & tried to get a “lock” on them.  It was hard, but he did it (oh, he’s good).

So, 3 days of work, then we got out again Nov. 28.  This my Uncle Bud’s 94th birthday!  He is my Mom’s brother & they’re the last 2 Larson siblings still living (Mom being 96!).

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He was a hero in WW II – flew a Lancaster Bomber.  Here he is with all his medals in Nanton, AB a couple of years ago.  They brought in the last working Lancaster & he sat in the cockpit when it was started up.  It made me extremely emotional just to hear it & look up at my Uncle Bud up there!  All the family who could make it showed up to celebrate with him.  An amazing day!

Back to reality here in FL.  Out again in the heat (high today 26), but at least a bit of a breeze.

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When we came out after breakfast, this Osprey was sitting on a branch nearby.  There are many nests in this area & we’ve seen dozens of them.

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Back to9  the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary.  Once again the 3 Sandhill Cranes who were there last week, were there once again.  Here are 2 of them lying down.  Their orange eye almost disappears next to their red crests.  When we left for our walk they stook up & started to “talking” to each other.  I absolutely love the sound of the cranes.  When many of them fly high overhead, it is beautiful!

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Bill shot this without my knowing:  A Monarch butterly on the tiny lilac flowers in the grass.

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Now for the PIECE DE RESISTANCE!  MY GOAL FOR THIS TRIP!  Florida Scrub Jay.  It is not only a Lifer, but the second last jay that can be seen in North America!  I have seen Blue, Brown, Gray, Green, Mexican, Pinyon, Stellar’s, Western Scrub – & now Florida Scrub!  The only 1 I’m missing is Island Scrub Jay & I will hae to travel to San Diego & take a boat to Santa Cruz Island in order to get that one.  Nonetheless, I’m stoked!

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On the way back Billy took this flower for me.  It is growing in a wet ditch.  Three white petals:  common arrowhead (because the leaves are very tall with a small oblong leaf  at the top which looks like an arrow.

We left for the Micco Scrub Sanctuary to check it out.  There were 5 horse trailers there, so obriously riders in the area.  We never came across them, but did come across another flock of Pine Warblers (along with a Yellow-rumped).

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We did however, find an AMAZING grasshopper – called Eastern Lubber Grasshopper.  It is nearly 6″ long & can’t fly.  Gets along by lumbering, crawling & can only make small hops.  Wings are only about half its body length, so can’t fly either.  Very toxic (warning comes in form of the bright colors) so no predators can eat it.  Famers hate it!

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To end on a nicer note, here’s a white peacock butterfly.  What a great day – I’m so happy about the jay!

Nov. 29:  Last day of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – but as soon as the actul day (Thursday) was over – starting “Black Friday” the Xmas ornaments went up!  All along the main street are the large red & green tinsel soldiers, candles, Xmas trees, snowmen, etc.  All lit with Xmas lights.  The main park has a huge Xmas tree lit with hundreds of lights.  All the homes have put up their decorations also.  Holy Mackerel!

We set out for the inlet at Indian R. sanctuary.  Ran into a couple of birders who saw our licence plate (which is “BIRDERS” for anyone who doesn’t know) to let us know that quite a few pelagic birds had blown in over the last few days.  They told us where to find a beach access to look for them.  We did a little walk first to an observation tower.

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First bird was this female N. Cardinal.  She was in such night light, we thought we should take a photo.

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Beaked butterly pea – what a perfect name!  The flower is nearly 2″ across!

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A white butterfly on a white flower.  The same butterfly I posted earlier with the electric blue antennae tips.  Those tips really show up here.

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As we returned to the car we finally got a shot of one of our Lifers – Mottled Duck.  Unfortunately, just a record.  Hopefully a better one later.  Not very exciting – looks sort of like a female mallard.

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Came across 3 Amer. White Pelicans fishing.  Here are 2 of them with fish in their pouches – going down!

We headed over to the beach area where those 2 birders were sitting on chairs watching what went by.

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Morning Glories were profuse in the vegetation at the top of the dunes.  They are larger & darker purple than I’ve seen before.

We did manage to see a few new birds for our list, including Caspian Tern & Gannet, but no kittiwakes nor jaegers.

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Along the shore in front of us, the usual Willets, Ruddy Turnstones & Sanderlings scampered up & down with the surf.  This Sanderling came close & was in nice light – so got his photo taken.

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The waves were high & the wind blew salt spray.  When we licked our lips after we left, they tasted salty.  Too busy elsewhere to do much more birding today & too hot!  More later

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2 Responses to More Lifers, including my “goal” bird!

  1. Robyn.Usher@CH2M.com says:

    Very, very cool that you the red cockaded woodpecker – massively envious!
    – Rob

    Robyn Usher
    Senior Project Manager
    [cid:image001.jpg@01D07854.2439FB30]
    ph: 403.407.6369 | cell: 587.215.1212

    • birderspost says:

      Well, you must not have read the blog very closely – since we did NOT see the woodpecker – just its tree & nest hole! But we haven’t given up hope yet – will try again tomorrow. The Jay was a triumph, however. XO LA

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