Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Mallard

Not much was happening on my last photographic outing. When this happens I tend to experiment a bit. So, using shutters speeds between 1/10 and 1/25 of a second, handheld, I attempted to make some Mallards look more interesting. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Birding Trip Report for Summerland Key, Florida

Following my recent field work in the mangroves around Summerland Key in Florida, I've uploaded a trip report of the the birds noted to the main site:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Some sounds from Summerland Key

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

These excited calls are from a female as the male returned with a fish and settled beside her on the nest. The calls continued until the male retreated to a nearby tree in the mangroves. I noted the male returning each morning between 07:00 and 08:00 and the female would begin calling long before I could see him in flight. On one occasion when I guessed that a distant bird could be him, the female began calling. This shows what amazing eye sight these birds have: at this stage it would have been impossible for us to have guessed what species it was never mind that it was her returning mate.

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Mewing calls from a bird in thick vegetation at Katherine Street pond.

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

This bird was fishing in the freshwater pond at Katherine street and would call each time it returned from a dive or changed its fishing perch. It initially flew in from high overhead, uttering a long series of more excited versions of this call, but I didn't have the microphone set up at that stage.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Confiding Pelicans

The heat, sun and humidity returned to the Keys today. Here are a couple of images of the birds with the bills, as I passed under them in a kayak.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Summerland Key, FL

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Summerland Key, FL

Friday, January 10, 2014

Birds from a kayak

Here are a few images from today's kayak trip to the field sites. I don't have any slr gear with me, mainly as I wouldn't have time to use it and in any case, it doesn't mix well with salt water on a kayak. These were taken with the tiny Canon G12 compact. Thanks to the approachability of some species and the reasonable light (ok it was cloudy today in the Keys but still brighter than Britain!) some reasonable record shots were snapped.

Great White Heron (Ardea herodias) in mangroves, Venture Key

Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) near Out Key - composite of two images. 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Cudjoe Key

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Cudjoe Key

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Cudjoe Key

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Cudjoe Key

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Kayaking Summerland Key to Cudjoe Key

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Cudjoe Key

It's amazing how close you can approach birds in the mangroves while silently approaching on a kayak. Today we were working on Cudjoe Key and the field work went well. On top of this I had amazing close views of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Green Herons. We kayaked from the west end of Summerland Key, along the eastern side of Cudjoe Key, round past the southern point at Gopher, then along the south side of Cudjoe Key to the western end of Cudjoe Bay. Some very large Maritigrella crozieri (a polyclad flatworm) were found. I also managed to count most of the birds encountered:
Brown Pelican (42), Double-crested Cormorant (53), Great White Heron (3), Little Blue Heron (4), Green Heron (6), Black-crowned Night-Heron (1), Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (7), White Ibis (8), Turkey Vulture (3), Cooper's Hawk (1), Osprey (4), American Kestrel (3), Killdeer (1), Spotted Sandpiper (4), Laughing Gull (67), Ring-billed Gull (17), American Herring Gull (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Forster's Tern (1), Royal Tern (34), Belted Kingfisher (7), Tree Swallow (1), Palm Warbler (5), Red-winged Blackbird (15).

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

14C in Florida Keys

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) - from a sunny day on a previous trip!

I'm in the Florida Keys again on field work and today the current Arctic air mass, which is gripping much of the US, also seems to be impacting on conditions this far south. The maximum temperature in Summerland Key was around 14 degrees Celsius but together with the wind and wet conditions in the kayak, it felt much colder than this. Not that I minded as it felt much like a typical summer's day in Scotland.

Best birds from the kayak today were two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feeding around a large flowering bush overhanging one of the channels near Caribbean Drive East.

Other good species seen on Summerland Key this week have included Magnificent Frigatebird, Great White Heron, Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, nesting Ospreys, Killdeer, Royal Tern, Belted Kingfisher, White-eyed Vireo, and various warblers.

Friday, January 03, 2014

High-Key Grebes

Here are some Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) images from the last month. The combination of light direction and background at this site (where the Cormorants a couple of posts ago were captured) is good for creating high-key dark or light images. I'm hoping they continue to use this site when they come in to breeding plumage.

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