Friday, January 31, 2014

Birding with Beth: Venetian Gardens

Beth wanted to see a Purple Gallinule so we were off to Leesburg, Fl. Sightings are guaranteed at the 64-acre Venetian Gardens park on the west shore of Lake Harris.

Purple Gallinules are large chicken-like birds with beautiful blue and purple feathers and a striking red, yellow and light blue bill. They have HUGE feet that allow them to walk on top of lake & pond vegetation.

 They look similar to Coots (black with white bill) and Common Gallinules (black with red bill) but definitely take the beauty queen crown.

This is a juvenile and does not have the pretty bill yet.

Beth says she see so many yellow-rumped Warblers that she wasn't going to take any more pictures of them - but I did.

An Anhinga was drying his wings in the sunshine.

The ponds are beautiful BUT there is too much litter especially by the bridges where people fish.

And, I hate to see people feed the birds. I know they mean well...

...but it's just not right seeing White Ibis beg for scraps!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Backyard Birding with Beth

 My sister Beth has been visiting for the past few days and we've had a wonderful time! She seemed to like our new lanai as she spent every free moment looking out the windows and taking pictures of the birds at our feeders. Check out her new lens!

The first day Beth was here a new bird showed up - a Yellow-throated Warbler.

And our resident Coyote not only showed up - he stood and posed while Beth clicked away.

The Yellow-throated Warbler made an appearance every day this week so we both got lots and lots of pictures.

He seemed to enjoy the suet best but did eat some of the sunflower seeds.

The Live Oak Tree that we planted a couple of years ago is finally big enough that the birds can find shelter there. I much prefer taking pictures of the birds in this natural setting. Our new visitor made a beautiful decoration nestled in the branches.

 Many of our other favorites showed up for Beth including a couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers...

...and several Blue Jays. There were interesting color variations with both birds.

We had lots and lots and lots of Pine Warblers, Palm Warblers and Goldfinches and several Yellow-rumped Warblers. The sparrows were represented by both Chipping and Savannah varieties. The Bluebirds were especially beautiful. Other varieties include Killdeer, hawks and doves. Watch Beth's blog because she took thousands of pictures and I'm sure she will present some that compare and contrast each and every one!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coyote, Birds & Quilts

Bill and I watched with amusement while our resident Coyote stalked what he hoped was dinner - Crows!

The birds played his game for a long time - letting him get closer and closer and then jumping ahead just far enough to keep him interested. This went on for about 20 minutes before the Crows tired of the game and moved on.

This was an especially beautiful Blue Jay visiting the feeders on a gorgeous sunny day.

The Goldfinches are eating us out of house and home - but we love them.

Today we went walking near Johnson Pond. Our find of the day was this Eastern Towhee scratching in the leaves looking for insects.

His partner was nearby.

I'm enjoying my new sewing area. I finished my doggy tribute "Tegan's Quilt" New Year's Day and sent it off Tegan's parents.

Continuing my animal theme - this one is a tribute to cats because every little boy needs a cat on his bed.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sleepy Head

Look who we found sleeping in the back yesterday afternoon!!

Bill first saw him earlier in the day when I was out playing Mah Jongg. I saw him as soon as I got home. He was sleeping way out by the woods.

When I walked out with my camera, he lifted his sleepy head to take a look and then promptly went back to his nap.

Another Coyote came by and he finally decided he had better get up and get started on his evening chores.

Monday, January 13, 2014


We had a welcome visitor to our little community yesterday - a small falcon. This beautiful Merlin was watching the golfers as they teed off from the 2nd hole. 

Unfortunately, it was the middle of the day and I was facing almost directly into the sun so I had to lighten the pictures a bit to see detail.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Birding the Jacksonville Area Beaches

Many of the birders we met at Little Talbot Island State Park where we saw the celebrity Snowy Owl were also looking for other rarities that were recently spotted in the area. We gathered information and headed to Huguenot Memorial Park just up the road to see if we could find the Snow Buntings that have been reported. The tide was still too high to drive on the beach so we got lots of exercise.

We never found the buntings, but saw lots of ducks. The profile of a Merganser is unmistakable. There were hundreds of Red-breasted Mergansers swimming in a large tidal pool across the dunes from the beach. They were quite far away.

I saw this lone Grebe among the ducks. It must be a Horned Grebe but it sure looks like the Western Grebes I see in Colorado.

There was different activity on the beach - and lots of it!

I like the silhouette of the ship in the background.

On our way out of the park we saw some of the regulars. There were lots of Osprey...


and a Wood Stork keeping guard while a Big Blue Heron fishes down in the ravine. It was still early so we decided to head further north to Ft. Clinch State Park located on a peninsula on the outermost point of Amelia Island to see if we could see the Harlequin Duck that has been seen at the end of the pier.

The pier was long (lots of exercise!) and the water was choppy. There were several Black (or American) Scoters swimming near the pier - a Life Bird for us both.

The Harlequin Duck had been swimming too far out to see without a scope - but swam in just as we arrived to the delight of the birders on the watch. He actually swam along side the pier towards the beach diving in the rough waves next to the rocks for as long as we were there.

Another Red-breasted Merganser.

 The water was clear enough that we could see his feet and he was close enough that many of the birders with enormous lenses had to change them out. My lens was perfect.

All along the jetty we saw dozens of Ruddy Turnstones.

While I was watching the Turnstones a Purple Sandpiper hopped up on the wall! Yet another Life Bird!

The Purple Sandpiper didn't stay in view very long but while he was there the cameras were clicking like crazy (mine included!)

Fort Clinch Beach is a prime nesting area for Black Skimmers and the beach was loaded with them! Bill and I had an amazing birding day in the Jacksonville area - but I just might have to go back and try to get a picture of the Snowy Owl with her eyes open! On our way home we spotted the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher sitting on the wire near the Ocala Regional Sportsplex - but I was too tired to get out the camera and Bill was too tired to stop.