I sat for a couple of hours this morning in the hope that an Osprey would come and dive for fish in the the pool in front of me but without success. I have been told that they regularly fish in the spot at Whisky Creek but for the entire time that I sat waiting expectantly, a Turkey Vulture was in the trees opposite preening and sunning itself in the strong morning sunshine. Eventually it took off to look for something to eat no doubt. They are magnificent if not a little bit ugly and their plumage is really quite attractive to my eyes, not to mention their spooky looking bare face and strong hook beak. I have just read that they are no way related to the Old World vultures but just resemble them because they feed and act in the same way. a prime example of convergent evolution. I am very fond of that phrase and quite often quote it, now I know of a good example.
I am not 100% certain of this species but suspect very strongly that it is a Yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata), one of Florida's over-wintering warbler species. I would have expected - and hoped for an adult, and far more attractively marked male however - but the head pattern and the existence of a yellow rump does indicate very strongly, this as the ID. If you can correct me, then please do so by email or through the blogs comments, thanks. I have photographed this species before in January 2016. I watched a female Northern parula (Setophaga americana) feeding on the berries of a fruiting tree. The females of this species are very attractive also, if not as exuberant as the male. This photograph is quite cropped as the bird was feeding right at the top of the tree.
The strikingly smart and handsome, starling sized Gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) is a very common species here but not very easy to see and get a shot of - they are skulkers and often heard but not seen - but this one decided to pose for an age right out in the open and I took the opportunity to get my best shot ever photograph of the species. It belongs to the same family as the Northern Mockingbird.
Another bird that I always enjoy to see is the The Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). This species is another skulker and seems to almost invariably stick close to the ground. I noticed that there was some conflict between this species and the Palm Warblers who probably feed in the same way hence the interaction. For what it is worth, the Palm Warblesr seem to be dominant over the Yellowthroats but that isn't a scientific assessment, just an observation.
Oh.....and did I mention the Brown Pelicans? No, but how could they not be included, always so photogenic and very easy to photograph as well.
Indistinct from this angle - Eastern or Western race, looks to be western?
I am currently in Southern Florida on my annual visit to family. We are just a little bit early for spring migration but the Palm Warbler is the first to start - but they also over-winter here as well. At the moment they are very common here and have probably moved north from the Caribbean. Yesterday evening I discovered a small flock of 20 or so feeding avidly on tiny insects and spiders in the low shrubs and undergrowth bordering the lawns of a public park - West Lake which is a favorite place of mine. It was a real treat to follow them up and down for half an hour or so waiting for a good photo opportunity. Amongst them was a single male Northern Parula and one Black and White Warbler. It was just a lovely experience for me, extremely interesting, fascinating and exciting as you never know what is going to put in an appearance. The Palm Warbler is extra interesting because there are two distinct races the one above belongs to the Eastern race. This race has mostly yellow streaked underparts and rump whereas the Western race has a yellow throat and rump but still has streaks. I have photographed both but on this trip I have seen both. There is a possibility that in the future they will be separated in to two distinct species.
This shows yellow underparts, almost certainly belonging to the yellow Eastern Race. The image below is probably a female but which race - who knows?
This image beneath shows the distinct yellow throat of a Western bird or brown Palm Warbler which I photographed the previous evening, quite clearly different. This is to my eyes is a slightly more attractive bird.
This is the same bird from a different angle but you can see the yellow throat and also distinctly yellow spercillium.
Early in my session I discovered one single bird feeding on the edge of the lake. This was a Western "brown" bird and a nice find.
As dusk was almost upon us and the tiny midges colloquially known as "noseeums" began to bite, suddenly there was a beautiful Black and White Warbler, they are very active, I have seen them before and always love them, they behave almost like Treecreepers and are hard to photograph but I had a tiny bit of success but the light was bad and they are very active and never still. But what a bird!
As I mentioned, amongst the small flock of Palm Warblers was one singly male Northern Parula. Is this the most beautiful of all the North American Warbler? Possibly but there are a lot to choose from and they are all very pretty and gorgeous.
Photographed on a magical afternoon when, courtesy of the RAF we hitched a helicopter ride to a remote colony containing the nests of thousands upon thousands of Rockhoppers in all stages of breeding. An experience that I will never ever forget.
I took this picture of Magellanic Penguin - Spheniscus magellanicus on a visit to the Falklands whilst serving in the Royal Marines. At the time, penguins were able to nest close to the town of Stanley in the cordoned off minefields that had given them security in areas where it was dangerous for humans to venture.
I have a gallery of 675 species from my travels around the world, my ambition is to achieve at least 1000 before I croak! I find the galleries a very rewarding way to catalogue my photos and then keep them in order. It's a man thing I suppose. It's the only list I keep but if i had listed from the beginnings of my birding way back in the 1950's I would have well over that 1000 for sure. There are massive numbers missing from my photographic galleries. For example I have visited the West indies numerous times and Belize, Falklands and the Galapagos and hardly any photos from those trips are worth posting. In the meantime, I am going to post on Twitter one species a day in Taxonomic order for the next 675 days - of course that will be extended because in the time it takes do that, almost 2 years, I will have added to it considerably. So heres the first species from the galleries and it's Ostritch.
Photographed at Cape Point Park, South Africa. A truly wild ostrich if you are wondering although there is a suggestion that the South African ostriches are probably feral having escaped from ostrich farms in the not too distant past.
I have been watching these Dippers regularly since my recent return from Cape Town. This species is always an early nester and it's a good species to watch at this time of the year. I am not giving the location away because for sure, there would be some disturbance and thats just what they don't need. In fact, they are very easily distracted from their breeding activities at this stage and if there is any hint of human activity near to their chosen nest site they will depart the area for several hours and could potentially decide to move the location. Consequently I have been very, very careful to hide my presence from them. I attached my Panasonic Lumix camera to my Swarovski Scope - this is colloquially called digiscoping - and from 30 yards away and hidden by trees and undergrowth I could get frame filling images. The weather was bad and the light was really dim, there was even a light drizzle. It was far too dull for conventional photography but setting the ISO to 5000 - yes I said 5000 - I was getting about a 1/30 second shutter speed. 4k movie at this speed was a bit hazy but well worth recording and now you know the distance involved, it's a pretty good result. Heres a screen shot.