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Monday, May 02, 2016

Land of The Yearling

Jodie and the Fawn
Tarnation, but I kin never visit south Florida's piney woods without a' thinkin' on that movie, The Yearling. I declare, this morning when I saw the piney woods, with clusters of palmetto leaves a jangled up at their feet... dagnabbit! There I go again, sinking into old timey talk, learned from having nigh onto a hundred times havin' watched, laughed and boo-hooed over The Yearling. Back to today's birding, we all got to enjoy the tall Long-leaved Pines of the Three Lakes Management Area on Manfredi's South Florida birding tour.

On our way to the first stop, Larry pulled the van over to watch a bloody beaked Crested Caracara, that was busy nibbling at some roadside offal: a smashed skunk. I'll bide a bit while you go barf.

You stopped ailing? Here are photos of the snazzy little eagle prepping to leave, after we had a nice look at it.

To infinity and beyond!

We drove on to the Three Lakes Management Area, to locate some choice birds of the Long-needled pine forest.
Entering Three Lakes Management area

Red-cockaded Woodpecker not my photo
Before long Larry found the our first sought after bird: a Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The stripy thing had no interest in coming in close enough for views, or posing for photos. My long ago viewings of these woodpeckers were nice, but I took no photos. Birders Steven and Marian told of sitting in wait at a Red-cockaded Woodpecker's nesting hole, only to have the bird zip, bullet-like into its hole for the night. Birds can be so selfish. Nonetheless, my hope today was for a photo, but woe is me, t'was not to be. Still, it was great that Larry found the bird and we had got to see it.

Also enjoyed were Brown-headed Nuthatches an Eastern Bluebird and a few warblers. The road we were parked on was sandy white, pebbly, and straight through the woodlands. Larry paced up and down on the gravel, listening for and identifying the various birdsong.  He pointed out two of Bachman's Sparrows calling out their rather pretty tunes, off in the distance.  Soon as the birds weren't moving toward us, we moved toward the birds, into the pines, . I was a tad apprehensive. What if I tripped, or...? My worry served me well, as I moved carefully through the low growing palmetto, that seemed dead set on catching my shoelaces to trip me. That I kept my eyes cast down had benefits - there were some nice wildflowers to be seen below.
Wild Coreopsis
White-topped Sedge
Jury's still out on this one's ID
On the off chance I looked up, there were things there too.
Swallow-tailed Kite showing its beautiful shining cape 'with tails'
When I finally got into the thick of the forest Larry had the scope set up, which was hardly needed, as a little Bachman's Sparrow male was perched some 50 feet off.
Huzzah! My lifer Bachman's Sparrow
The little bird gave us nary a glance, sitting its limb, for maybe 15 minutes. Tt seemed happy to sit and pose all morning. I went nuts getting shots of the little brownie.
Close-ups of the Bachman's Sparrow

The sparrow sang for us a bit, and when I headed off for the road, it was still there. What a fantastic treat to watch the bird for such a nice long time. LIFER!

On our way to the next spot, Larry spotted a roadside Wild Turkey hen.
She seemed to have a few secrets...
...hopping after her in the tall grass
I can't remember ever seeing such young turkey chicks
All together I counted at least seven speckled puffballs
Mid-day we enjoyed lunch at 'Crabby Bill's', a cute restaurant where the crab cakes were judged a a tad on the bready side, but when you're hungry, you're hungry. Afterwards we walked a park behind the restaurant. I got some nice close up shots of a Limpkin trodding along the sedges. 

The Limpkin dragged a snail onto a lawn...
...a sly White Ibis slunk over to nab some of the treat

snail shell & cell phone

The evil White Ibis did get a bit of the snail, but the snail seemed large enough for everyone to get a meal off of it. Don't believe me? Check out the size of the things!

After lunch, we all headed over to Joe Overstreet Road, which was one of the places I remember best from earlier trips to Florida. Fair amount of wildlife on the road down to the lake.
A couple of Sandhill Cranes worked the roadside by a pasture
Joe Overstreet ends at Lake Kissammee 
Marian spotted some spots in the sky far off,
a pair of Snail Kites that put on something of an airshow
slightly better view of one of the Snail Kites - Damn me but they were so cool
After a few more stops to view birds, we stopped at a small park, which Larry told us often has both Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks.
Beautiful pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Black-bellies are such beautiful ducks, with their pink bills. There were quite a few of them at the park. They were lifers for Steve and Marian.
Black-bellies showing off their fine upright stance
There was an unusual lifer bird for me as well - a Muscovy Duck. For ages, the only way to get a Muscovy Duck for your life list was to go to south Texas with high hopes and pray for a wild one to cross your path. Nowadays however, as feral Muscovy Ducks are breeding and surviving in Florida, the Muscovys there count on one's ABA life list. They did the DNA testing and Florida's tame-ish Muscovys are the same as Texas' wild ones. Go figure. Yes, feels sort of like cheating to count the Florida Muscovys, but hey, I've got feral parrots on my life list so, lifer Muscovy; check!
on the left, Lifer Muscovy - check! 
There were many other birds on the lake too, such as Common Gallinules, Green Heron, domestic Mallards, Limpkins, White Ibis but for the life of us, we searched and searched and no Fulvous Whistling Ducks... until... Larry spotted one land on the far side of the lake. Time for the spotting scope.
Marian and Steve peering at way-out-on-the-lake Fulvous Whistling Duck
The persnickety Fulvous didn't come in closer for a good shot, then again, happiness is seeing a species a second time. I only recently got it as a lifer in South Texas. Nothing more satisfying that one's second look at a former lifer species; it kinda soothes your birding soul.

I got slightly better than a-poke-in-the-eye shots with my little Lumix camera through Larry's spotting scope.  The duck is the eensie blot in the lower center of the vignetted shot to the left here. Isn't the duck just the cutest?

Inset of the Fulvous

Yes, that is a genuine Fulvous Whistling Duck, and it's the best shot I've got of the species so far.  While we checked out the duck, a couple more Fulvous flew in, but they were even farther off. Oh well, we were all happy we got to add the ducks to our daily birds seen list.

Final note, there are some interesting dragonflies and butterflies in Florida - not that I care at all about insects, but look at this little darning needle.
Blue Dragonfly - that's its description and its species

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