Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lakeland, FL - 25-26 Mar 2010

Robin and I flew down to Orlando, FL this Wednesday morning to bring her mom home after a 3-month vacation. We were to drive back to Michigan on Friday morning, but in the meantime I wanted to get some Florida birding under my belt.

Circle B Bar Reserve - 25 Mar 2010

After arriving in Lakeland early in the afternoon, we took mom to dinner and then back to the house. Robin and I drove over to the Circle B Bar Reserve to take advantage of the late afternoon clear skies and mild weather. We arrived shortly around 5 pm.

As we walked out to the marsh a returning photographer directed us to a pair of Sandhill Cranes w/ 2 chicks. Sure enough, the family was just a few yards away from the trail and close enough for photos of the chicks and adults in the late afternoon sunlight. Overhead hundreds of Tree Swallows were feeding on an insect hatch whiles pairs of Blue-winged Teal fed in the shallow waters on the opposite side of the trail.

I was distracted for a moment as a large flock of shorebirds appeared overhead. As they whirled back and forth across the skies I tried to grab enough flight shots so as to ID them later. Luckily for me they banked in the late afternoon sunlight and revealed themselves as Lesser Yellowlegs.

Continuing on we saw the first of many young alligators sunning themselves next to the trail. I took a few moments to get some close-ups of the tiny little guys, making sure that mom was not nearby.

As we walked along the Marsh Rabbit Run Trail several more pairs of Sandhill Cranes were flying across the marsh. Palm Warblers were working the trees on either side of the trail while gray squirrels frolicked in the trail ahead of us. To our left an American Coot was swimming in its own reflection.

We were about to turn back when a pair of Sandhills called out nearby. A pair of birds were on a nest just a few yards from the trail. One bird appeared to be incubating, while its mate stood nearby.

After a few moments both birds stood up and began to bugle. Cool! While I photographed them a White Ibis just a few feet away continued to feed in the thick vegetation.

Returning to the main trail a nice male Boat-tailed Grackle perched atop a dead tree trunk while its mate fed alongside a Glossy Ibis below. Just before we returned to the car we spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk silhouetted against the lowering sun. I grabbed several photos of the bird from a distance while a drake Mottled Duck whistled past us. A Red-bellied Woodpecker quietly roosted atop another tree on the opposite side of the trail. Nearby a Northern Mockingbird flew atop a nearby shrub. Just a few feet from there a Swamp Sparrow appeared momentarily, followed by a Savannah Sparrow.

Lakeland RV Park - 26 Mar 2010

I had just returned the rental car to the nearby Hertz dealer, and had the rest of the day to kick around the park before we'd drive home tomorrow. I walked down to the pond to look for birds. Things were a bit quiet, but I did spot an Anole Lizard chasing another small lizard along the rocks. One posed long enough for a near-macro shot w/ the 400mm Sigma.

There were no birds near the pond, but I was hearing a Red-shouldered Hawk along the far bank. I walked down along the shoreline and listened for it, but could not find it. No wonder, for it was one of several Blue Jays mimicking the bird from a nearby perch!

I stood there for several minutes and soon heard the pishing of a House Wren. As I pished back, trying to draw it out, a Brown Thrasher appeared nearby. I got a few photos of it from a distance, before it flew off.

As I watched it through the binoculars a pair of Palm Warblers flew in and began to feed in the shrubs nearby. One bird appeared close enough for photos while the other remained in the thickets.

I then heard the loud 'chip!' of another Palm Warbler singing from the nearby trees. I approached slowly and managed a few clear glimpses of the bird as it flew into the open. It wasn't until the bird disappeared that I noticed the White Ibis perched nearby.

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