Jan. 12: Bill’s cousin Jimmy Clark’s 80th Birthday! He’s an absolute sweetheart & we send him love & good wishes!
We walked 4 miles of boardwalks at the Corkscrew Audubon Sanctuary today. It was a lovely day & not too busy at the beginning (though it got crowded later & we left earlier than planned.
One of our first sightings was this cute little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. As you can see he left “straight up” into the air!
A “wild” White Ibis searched for food underwater. (By “wild” I mean not mooching at a fast food restaurant or scrounging in an RV park!)
We must’ve seen & heard at least a dozen gray Catbirds.
Since this sanctuary is used by BSA (Boy Scouts of America), there are colored posters along the handrails at various points, to help people identify wildlife. This Eastern Cottonmouth was at first curled up “well below” the walkway), but started moving after it got a little warmer. Its sign was right above it! The reason for the name is because its mouth is pure white inside. When threatened, it coils & opens its mouth very wide so you can see the white.
There were lots of beautiful marsh flowers around. We’ve seen most of them before, but always worth another shot.
There were 2 Anhingas, one drying its wings. Beautiful feathers.
Black-crowned Night Heron
A few of the marshy areas were inhabited by lake lettuce. This is a very attractive plant for many species, so lots of life around them. Looks good enough to eat!
A cute little Carolina Wren.
The usual Northern Cardinal which we see & hear everywhere!
There were a pair of Eastern Phoebes catching flies in the sunshine.
This Common Grackle has a lot of irridescent purple around its neck in Florida. In our neck of the woods (if you’ll pardon the pun), they have more blue.
I swear this little Mourning Dove turned & winked at me!
Now for the piece de resistance. This is not a Lifer, because we’ve both seen females before, but not a male (for nearly 40 years) – so it’s almost a Lifer.
Painted Bunting. One of the most beautiful birds in NA & is on the cover of a few bird guides I know. There were at least 4 males & 3 females. Females are yellow & green. Made our day!
Next couple of days were a bit inclement, so we did laundry & caught up on other things.
Jan. 16: As a matter of fact there were threats of tornadoes – the earliest they’ve ever been here in FL! It rained a lot, but no tornadoes hit us, though the winds were strong & we had to take down the awnings. Two people were killed north of us by a tornado – so thank God we weren’t hit here! There were some young(ish) people TENTING next to us & at about 4 AM 1 of their tents nearly blew into us. They had to get up & try to sleep in their vehicles until it was light. They they packed up & left. Camping isn’t fun in these winds & rain! Yikes!
Off to the same Corkscrew Audubon Swamp again today. A calm morning with lots of fog to start. Temp went down to 12C overnight (good way to make fog).
One of our first sightings was a Yellow-throated Warbler – here are 2 different individuals in different places. As I said before – you can never have too many of them! We actually saw more warblers today than we ever have in Florida yet. This included a Lifer – Prothonotary Warbler, but we didn’t get a photo of it. As a matter of fact, we’d both seen it & weren’t sure what it was until we started looking through the book later & realized we’d seen it! A completely yellow warbler with a more golden head & white under-tail coverts. Yay! We also weren’t sure about a sparrow we saw until we checked it against the book after we got home – but Bill thought it was a Swamp Sparrow – & yes, it was!
This is the most common Warbler we’ve seen in Florida – Palm Warbler. It’s everywhere: every RV park & most every place we visit. Its telltale tail-bobbing & yellow under-tail coverts make it easy to identify.
We were thrilled to find a Barred Owl “out in the open”. I have only ever seen 1 before (at Waskesiu) & it was flying by. We’ve heard them quite a bit though. Heard one the last time we were here – so great to see it, though pretty hidden up in the tree. Bill shot it going both ways on the boardwalk. Obviously just for the record.
This American Bittern was pretty tame & posed for a long time for all the people walking by on the boardwalk.
With all the fog & rain, the spider webs were glistening when the sun finally came out.
The White-eyed Vireos were singing madly (because, apparently, this is the season here & now in FL!). They have a beautiful song.
For a bird with no color, the Black-and-white Warbler is very pretty.
This little baby aligator (about a foot long) was being guarded by its big momma!
This a record shot only – a Lifer for Bill (though I’ve seen about 4 times in TX & FL, he’s missed it each time!). Northern Parula (which, by the way, has been seen & photographed in Saskatoon. Another of those great birds we’re bound to see when we adopt our new home in SK!)
This group of waders are white-morph Great Blue Herons. According to one birder we spoke to, they are so common in FL (especially the Keys) they feel it should be a separate species. Not so sure myself, but we’ll see. They even act differently, since there were 3 together here & one hardly ever sees 3 GB Herons together.
Bill surprised me with a butterfly photo – didn’t know he took it!
To end this edition of the blog, here is a lovely couple: male & female Painted Buntings (for you can never have too many Painted Buntings!). More later!