Festivals Recap – February-March 2014

Events

High Plains Snow Goose Festival Feb 20, 2014 Lamar, CO
Beckham Bird Club Annual Dinner Mar 11, 2014 Louisville, KY
Big O Birding Festival Mar 13, 2014 LaBelle, FL
Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival Mar 20-23, 2014 Spring Hill, FL
Road trip from Ohio to Arizona Apr 11-23, 2014 OH to AZ
Verde Valley Birding and Wildlife Festival Apr 24-27, 2014 Cottonwood, AZ
Biggest Week in American Birding May 6-15, 2014 Oregon, OH
Acadia Birding Festival May 29-Jun 1, 2014 Bar Harbor, ME
Ecuador: Northern Andes and Amazon with Greg Miller Aug 8-23, 2014 Quito, Ecuador

 

Prairie Falcon

At the end of February I went to Southeastern Colorado for the High Plains Snow Goose Festival. And there were thousands of Snow Geese. For me, the raptors were a treat. This Prairie Falcon is one cool camper! And ther are Red-tailed Hawks of all different colorations. Below is a “Western” Red-tailed Hawk.

Western Red-tailed Hawk

And a beautiful light morph Ferruginous Hawk.

Light morph Ferruginous Hawk

After a few short days at home I drove to Louisville KY to speak to the Beckham Bird Club. We had a great time during my quick visit. Below is one of the Red-necked Grebes on the Ohio River.

Red-necked Grebe

In the next day-and-a-half I drove 1,000 miles to reach LaBelle FL for the tail end of the Big “O” Birding Festival. I birded Devil's Garden during the day and gave a slide presentation that evening. The next day I got to bird Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA5). Here are a few highlights.

Barred Owl

Eastern Meadowlark

Purple Swamphen

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Snail Kite

After the Big O, I traveled north to Spring Hill FL for the Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. It was cool to bird this area of Florida–an area I had only birded once before. I visited lots of cool places. And the Saturday keynote went very well. I had a great time. Highlights of Naure Coast are below.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Boat-tailed Grackle

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Water Lily

After a fun-filled schedule at Nature Coast I drove north to Tallahassee FL for a couple days of recovery and also to wait out the snowstorm in West Virginia. While in Tallahassee I got to visit Maclay Gardens–an awesomely beautiful place to visit at this time of year. Enjoy the pics!

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

 

Space Coast Festival and Florida Birds Workshop – January 2014

Some Upcoming Events

High Plains Snow Goose Festival Feb 20, 2014 Lamar, CO
Beckham Bird Club Annual Dinner Mar 11, 2014 Louisville, KY
Big O Birding Festival Mar 13, 2014 LaBelle, FL
Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival Mar 20-23, 2014 Spring Hill, FL
Verde Valley Birding and Wildlife Festival Apr 24-27, 2014 Cottonwood, AZ
Biggest Week in American Birding May 6-15, 2014 Oregon, OH
Ecuador: Northern Andes and Amazon with Greg Miller Aug 8-23, 2014 Quito, Ecuador

I've finally waded through 8,000+ photos. My amateur strategy for good photos=volume. When shooting, it's easy to say “It's digital” and shoot away. What is harder is going through the results of that “digital” logic. Volume takes a lot of time. But I have to say that I like taking photos. And lots of them. In the end, I ended up with a number of decent photos that were very satisfying to me.

I have to say that I enjoy photography enough that I actually am willing to put some work into becoming better. Why? Well. Because I want to. Here are few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them, too.

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Pied-billed Grebe Diving

It is hard to believe just a week ago I was delayed multiple times in the Atlanta airport on my way north to meet the Polar Vortex.  I am still going through the 8,000+ photos I took at the end of January in wonderfully warm Florida.  Sigh.  But the photos get interrupted by shoveling snow…and going to work.  This bird was photographed during Wildside Nature Tours Florida Birds Photo Workshop.  In the mean time, here is another animated GIF file–a series of six photos of a diving Pied-billed Grebe that I found quite interesting.  Check out how the bird seems to sink slightly before diving.  And watch its back feet kick water upward to get some force downward on its dive.  Very cool!

Pied-billed Grebe diving - Viera Wetlands - Melbourne FL - 2014-01-27

Pied-billed Grebe diving – Viera Wetlands – Melbourne FL – 2014-01-27 photos by Greg Miller

Great Blue Heron Eating Fish

Yes.  It has been forever since my last post.  I just returned from a 10-day trip to Florida for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival and a Florida Birds Photo Workshop with Wildside Nature Tours.  I am going through my 8,000+ photos while occasionally glancing up at possibly the most boring of Super Bowl games ever.  Even the commercial are mediocre.  Well.  Here is something new.  I will try inserting an animated picture here.  It is not a video.  And I am sure it will not work in the email form of this blog (sorry).  I will have plenty to post in the coming days.

Great Blue Heron eating large fish - Viera Wetlands FL - 2014-01-28

Great Blue Heron eating large fish – Viera Wetlands FL – 2014-01-28 photos by Greg Miller

2013 Florida Ornithological Society Spring Meeting – Day 3

Saturday morning I went to Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida again. It's maybe the best place to bird on Florida's West Coast. (Ok. That's my opinion. You are entitled to your own favorite spot). The Yellow-throated Warbler pictured above is always a delight to see!

These cool warblers are often found in dramatic positions as they feed. I know I don't eat breakfast upside down.

And why is it that these pretty Cape May Warblers strive so hard to hide from my camera? I think they must be bashful. Or something.

This is our group actively looking at…a mulberry tree. Ha. Maybe it was really the migrant birds in the mulberry tree. Yeah. Probably.

The afternoon and evening were spent indoors listening to workshops and another keynote. And some guy gave a workshop on learning bird songs and calls and didn't even use slides. Egads! The audacity! (Yeah. It was me)

 

2013 Florida Ornithological Society Spring Meeting – Day 2

 

Yesterday i headed to Fort Desoto Park with Mark Obmascik and Ron Smith to catch the ferry to Egmont Key. We met many other participants on the field trip.

Here is the ferryboat.

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Florida Space Coast 2013 – Part 3

On Friday, 1/25/2013, I visited Lake Woodruff NWR before joining Michael Brother, Bob Wallace, and Cameron Cox for the fantastic gull fly-in at Daytona Beach Shores where as many as 50,000 gulls stage before going back out beyond the breakers to spend the night on the water.  We had distant views of a razorbill and looks at both parasitic and pomarine jaegers from shore.  A number of lesser black-backed gulls were among the most numerous gull species–Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed.  Earlier in the day I explored Lake Woodruff NWR near DeLeon Springs, FL.  It was my first ever visit.

Cloudless Sulphur - Lake Woodruff NWR - near DeLeon Springs FL - 2013-01-25

Cloudless Sulphur – Lake Woodruff NWR – near DeLeon Springs FL – 2013-01-25 photo by Greg Miller

 

Eastern Pond Hawk - Lake Woodruff NWR - near DeLeon Springs FL - 2013-01-25

Eastern Pond Hawk – Lake Woodruff NWR – near DeLeon Springs FL – 2013-01-25 photo by Greg Miller

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Florida Space Coast 2013 – part 2

Ha!  Right into part 2 with no delay.  I’m ready to roll after skimming through my 3,000+ photos for Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  In my previous post I had posted a bright red dragonfly I labeled “is this a very bright Roseate Skimmer” from Green Cay in Boynton Beach, FL.  Thanks to the expertise of Angel Abreu of Miami, FL, this dragonfly has been correctly identified as a Scarlet Skimmer.  Cool.  Thank you, Angel!

January 23, 2013 I was only scheduled for my opening keynote speach.  Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos, but the auditorium was packed and the audience was great.  During the day I got to relax with leisure birding at a fabulous little spot called Rich Grissom Viera Wetlands (or referred to by me as just Viera Wetlands in Viera, FL).

Blue-winged Teal pair - Viera Wetlands - Viera FL - 2013-01-23

Blue-winged Teal pair – Viera Wetlands – Viera FL – 2013-01-23 photo by Greg Miller

 

Carolina Satyr - Viera Wetlands - Viera FL - 2013-01-23

Carolina Satyr – Viera Wetlands – Viera FL – 2013-01-23 photo by Greg Miller

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Florida Space Coast 2013 – part 1

Anyone who keeps bird lists and wants to get the best bang for the buck has to go to several geographic locations at different seasons.  For Big Year folks, this means (in addition to chasing rarities) visits to what refer to as “The Big 5”.  These are the 5 states where you can pick up a huge number of regular species and also be in proximity to potential rarities showing up while you are there.  These states are Alaska, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.  All of these states have unique specialty birds–birds that occur more commonly there than many other places (and a few are completely unique to those areas).  What’s it like to visit a birding festival in one of these locations?  Read on.  I will tell you about my trip to Brevard County, Florida for the an old and well-recognized festival, the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  The epicenter of the birding action here is the very birdy Merritt Island NWR near Titusville, FL.

I arrived in Florida late Sunday afternoon, 1/20/2013, with 3 hours of daylight to burn.  Spending that time at Merritt Island NWR seemed like a good plan.  And 70 species later I would say,  “Yes.  That was a good choice.”

Merritt Island NWR is a big wildlife refuge near Cape Canaveral where the space shuttle launches occurred.  Here are a few pics from the Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Northern Pintail male in alternate plumage - Merritt Island NWR - near Titusville FL - 2013-01-20

Northern Pintail male in alternate plumage – Merritt Island NWR – near Titusville FL – 2013-01-20 photo by Greg Miller

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Spring Migration in Florida’s Lower Keys

Gallery

This gallery contains 14 photos.

Oh, goodie!  More photographs!  I wish to extend many thanks to my friends Greg & Leslie Cornett for chauffeuring me all around to some of the best birding spots in South Florida.  I had a great time birding during this … Continue reading