Ready? Set. Bird!

The official purpose for traveling to Florida was birding a conference.  But often times, it felt as though it was birding, because priorities.  With a departure for the airport at 3:30am, Tara and I anticipated being wiped by the time we reached our hosts’ home. We were being parasites for our stay (it was a biological conference, so fitting!)

After most of the airport hijinks had been straightened out, Tara and I refueled and decided there was daylight and there were birds!  We decided to stay close to our parasitic home in Coral Springs and explore what the local parks had to offer. Research through ebird suggested that two parks were promising: Pine Trails Park and Tall Cypress.

Pine Trails Park

Was a challenge to find!  We quickly learned that Florida is riddled with private communities that are unrecognized by GPS.  So once we worked that out, we did find our way to the Park.

Pine Trails Park is more athletic fields and a YMCA than, one would expect.  Upon arrival, the area seemed devoid of birds, but as we walked about we began to find signs of life.

We saw an unidentified gull and a Royal Tern swoop through before we heard a clamor in the reeds and located a raucous American Coot.

One of our first Florida birds: American Coot. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

One of our first Florida birds: American Coot. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Don’t let this coot’s docile and demur appearance fool you; it must have done something to set the other coot off on its tirade. Soon it was joined by this fellow, so maybe the coot wasn’t to be blamed after all.

Common Gallinule lives up to it's name. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Common Gallinule lives up to it’s name. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

After having ample opportunities for viewing the Common Gallinule, I’m still mesmerized by its appearance.  The evolution of the beak into a faceplate is phenomenonal.  I recall first glimpsing it through the fog in the Galapagos; followed by a serious hunt for it at Cape May, never dreaming I’d see it so often I could walk by without snapping at least a dozen photos.

Then there was this lovely lifer: Tricolored Heron.  In Florida, one really needs to look at all the herons.  It’s not like New Jersey where they’re quickly identifiable 99% of the time. And this one even blends with the water, whee!

Tricolored Heron fishing on the banks. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Tricolored Heron fishing on the banks. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Florida Total:  12 species
Pine Trails Park: 10
New for Florida: 10
Lifers: 2

Tall Cypress

After the highly manicured Pine Trails Park, Tall Cypress felt like everything a Florida birding locale should be: green, swampy, wet, alluring.   There was even a most convenient boardwalk to keep out feet dry and more importantly, minimize our impact on the landscape.

Tall Cypress looks more an illustration than a real place. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Tall Cypress looks more an illustration than a real place. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

My pishing for sparrows leaves much to be desired, but it can attract the warblers.  We managed to call in Palm Warblers, Prairie Warblers, and also Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  This was promising.  When one travels to a new location you allows worry (1) Will you find anything? (2) Will you recognize it once you do?

Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Palm Warblers abound high in the canopy. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

The birding was at a pleasant pace.  Not so little as to be disappointed, but not so much that we were overwhelmed by it all.  We had enough time for distractions such as this reptile pictured below.

Brown Anoles a common sight and an invasive species throughout Florida. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Brown Anoles a common sight and an invasive species throughout Florida. Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Tara’s training is first as a Herptologist (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians) so she was quick to take an interest and identify all the herps we came across.  We also found a mammal!

Raccoon! Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Raccoon! Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

At this point we were mostly birding by ear with Gray Catbird, Blue Jays, several Northern Flickers, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

The views of insects was also fantastic.  I’m not sure if this is because they were truly marvelous or just seeing insects in January is bizarre.

Best guess is a Four-spotted Pennan (Brachymesia gravida). Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

Best guess is a Four-spotted Pennan (Brachymesia gravida). Photo taken on January 2, 2015 with a Nikon 3200 Sigma 500mm.

We took an hour to meander the very pleasant park which was actually created through the effort of concerned high school students.

This 66-acre natural area has long been known for its richly forested resources. Owned jointly by Broward County and the City of Coral Springs, the site was once slated for development. It has been preserved through the efforts of local and county government, along with the Coral Springs High School  environmental group Save What’s Left.  – Broward.org

Florida Total: 22
Tall Cypress: 10
New for Florida: 8
Lifers: 0

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