Friday, February 5, 2016

North Florida Winter Trip: Part I

With what was certainly a tremendous amount of effort, bud Tom Obrock created an itinerary for our annual North Florida birding trip that was almost as much fun to read as making the trip itself.


The Laughing Gull above (image 1) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.

Tom and I met as scheduled at 5:30am to head north from Fort Myers on 1 February. Tom had recommended that we make seven stops on the first day of travel. The arrival at Hernando County's Bystre Lake, our first stop, was delayed by several hours due to a flat tire. A very brief visit at this beautiful venue unfortunately did not afford any photo-ops.


The scene above (image 2) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Osprey above (image 3) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Common Loon above (image 4) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The scene above (image 5) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.

Our next stop was Bayport Park north of Tampa where the diminutive Weeki Wachee River spills into the Gulf of Mexico. Virtually all the birds seen at this venue were distant enough to require binoculars to get great views of them save a small number of Ring-billed Gulls that pursued one of their own with a fish. The action was too quick and close to photograph, but I tried.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 6) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Laughing Gull above (image 7) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 8) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Ruddy Turnstone above (image 9) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.

The walk under the magnificent oak trees laden with Spanish Moss at Tuscawilla Preserve was a reminder of the deep old south. This venue looked ridiculously dry while considering the abundant rainfall which is attributed to the 2015 El Niño weather event. There was a lot of poison ivy seen here.


The Horned Grebe above (image 10) was photographed at Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Eastern Bluebird above (image 11) was photographed near Bayport Park in February 2016.


The Yellow-rumped Warbler above (image 12) was photographed at Tuscawilla Preserve in February 2016.


The American Goldfinch above (image 13) was photographed at Tuscawilla Preserve in February 2016.

In advance of a storm approaching the southeast, a first visit was made at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, Florida. This magnificent place was previously known as the Paynes Prairie Sheet Flow Restoration Project. Tom and I explored a very small footprint of what can be seen along the 3.5 miles of boardwalk and trails available at this jewel.


The Blue-winged Teal above (image 14) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Sora above (image 15) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Wilson's Snipe above (image 16) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Limpkin with prey above (image 17) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.

With daylight waning, we made our way toward the University of Florida where a potential life bird for the both of us had been seen reliably at Dauer Hall. It seemed we might miss this species similar to Chimney Swift as it didn't appear at the time when last reported.


The Blue-winged Teal above (image 18) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck above (image 19) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck above (image 20) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Glossy Ibis above (image 21) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.

My photos of the Vaux's Swifts at and after sunset were captured at double my normal maximum ISO setting of 1600 with a shutter speed of 1/200. It was remarkable nonetheless observing the Vaux's Swift enter the chimneys of the residence hall where they would roost overnight. It was a great end to the day while missing only two stops. No photo pun intended.


The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck above (image 22) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Eastern Phoebe above (image 23) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The American Coot above (image 24) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.


The Common Gallinule above (image 25) was photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in February 2016.

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The Tufted Titmouse above (image 26) was photographed at the University of Florida (Dauer Hall) in February 2016.


The Vaux's Swift above (image 26) was photographed at the University of Florida (Dauer Hall) in February 2016.

Please also see North Florida Winter Trip: Part II

8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It was good to remember all the necessary accouterments.

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  2. The start of what looks like a very promising birding adventure, Bob. Great finds with the Loon, Grebe as well as Vaux's Swift which must have been extremely challenging to photograph.

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    1. Back here at home I have been hearing Blue Jay mimic Red-shouldered Hawk for the first time. A small handful of life birds from the North Florida trip will be presented in the next post, Hemant. It was great fun photographing all of the birds seen.

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  3. Thought the spread of the wing of the blue-wing teal was so pretty! -#14
    Thank you Bob!
    Adele

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