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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Birds 
Thread started 11 Jul 2010 (Sunday) 13:21
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Florida Birding at its Best

 
EveryMilesAMemory
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Jul 11, 2010 13:21 |  #1

Now I know people comment all the time on how good the birding is here in Florida during the winter months. I knew this when we moved back here in January and I wondered what we were going to do during the summer months when all the birds migrated back north?

Little did I know that during the summer months, we have even more birds than we did during the winter time. I guess many of the tropical birds migrate up to Florida from South America or other parts of the world to nest along the surrounding islands.

One of my goals for the past few years has been to see and photograph a baby pelican. After asking numerous times if anyone could show me a photo of one, and only getting smart-a$$ comments that there is no such thing, and everyone knows that Seagulls just grow up to become pelicans, we've finally found the mother load.

One of the neighboring islands, Seahorse Key, that is normally closed to the public has recently opened up. The place is a birders paradise. Too many birds to count, dozens of varieties to choose from and with a good zoom, they're all within reach from the shoreline on a boat as all of these were shot from.

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/IMG7101/930912426_Wi3Jp-L.jpg

Shooting from a boat required my wife and I to learn a few new techiques. Not having the ability to move anywhere you wanted to get the right background became frustrating many times when a shot could have been near perfect, if you could only have moved a few simple feet in one direction or another to remove some unwanted object from the background.

Especially when there were 3 of us on the boat, it meant for some heated growls/moans if you had a shot lined up perfect and one of the other photographers moved and started the boat a rockin'

You might have seen some of my wifes shots from her camera, Cindy's Post, so I thought I'd post up some of mine to go along with them. Funny we were on the same boat, but many times sitting back to back, we saw entirely different things.

The Day started with us landing on the deserted white sand beach before sunrise to try and find where the nests were.

One of the first things we saw was this Raven leave a pelican nest with a freshly stolen egg
IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Raven-Stealing-an-Egg-from-a/928460667_5szYK-L.jpg

The egg was so heavy, the bird could barely fly with it in its beak.

The amount of birds we saw was amazing, and the different types had me not even knowing what I was shooting most of the time.

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Pair-of-Immature-Ibis-in-the/928943524_EAeVJ-L.jpg
For instance, this immature Ibis dont look anything like they do when they're grown and bright white with bright red beaks/bills

I thought I was shooting a Bittern when I shot this bird, but come to find out that its a Immature Black Crowned Night Heron, or a Yellow Crowned Night Heron which is even more rare. I guess the only difference is one has a thicker bill and shorter legs than the other, so it's hard to tell without having them side by side to compare

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Immature-Yellow-Crowned-Night/928942405_UDrxn-L.jpg


To watch the adults come back to the nests and feed the babies is downright primordial! The babies go ballistic and its hard to imagine they dont injure or kill the adults with how hard they're shoving their beaks down the parents throats

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Feeding-Time-Adult-Brown/928946430_cLNiM-L.jpg

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Adult-Pelican-standing-over-a/928466017_ZGkf2-L.jpg
The noises the babies make sound very similar to a pig trough at feeding time, and if you were to be dropped off on this island at night, you'd be scared to death not knowing what these sounds are coming from. Who would think it's from a ugly, white bird?

I thought it was rare to see a Golden Eagle this far out into the ocean, we were a few miles away from shore to get to this island, but this one allowed us to get pretty close before it opened its freighteningly large wingspan and soared over us. This one sat about 3-4' tall and when it opened its wings, they were an easy 6 foot wide

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Beautiful-Golden-Eagle-on-the/928948818_pcvex-L.jpg

Coming home with hundreds of shots to choose from, this one is one of my favorites and will be blown up for a friend of mine 24x36 for her living room. She wanted a shot of Heron's with a Cabbage Palm in the background as they're her favorite things, so I thought this trio fit the bill perfectly

IMAGE: http://everymilesamemory.smugmug.com/Cedar-Key-Florida/Birds-of-Cedar-Key/Trio-of-Great-Blue-Herons-on/928944700_bEHNe-L.jpg

Still have a bunch more photos to edit, and we're heading back out again this week, so hopefully I'll add to the post with some more photos as I collect them

Thanks for looking

Pat Bonish
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jgrussell
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Jul 11, 2010 13:35 |  #2

Wow, Pat! Those are terrific!


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rw2
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Jul 11, 2010 13:41 |  #3

Great series. The last one is world class.


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Marcy
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Jul 11, 2010 13:43 |  #4

great shots - night time of day got real good lighting




  
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bettyn
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Jul 11, 2010 15:12 |  #5

Great shots. I believe you've got a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron in #4. Easiest way to tell the difference with a Blacked Crowned Night Heron is the eyes. The latter's are bright red. Would like to visit your area sometime soon on our boat. It looks beautiful.


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ajosteve
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Jul 11, 2010 15:17 |  #6

Wonderful series, I'm looking forward to seeing more!


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Pauhana
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Jul 11, 2010 16:10 |  #7

Pat your going to make me come up there and spend a few days if you keep posting pic's like these. Great shots.


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EveryMilesAMemory
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Jul 11, 2010 16:15 |  #8

bettyn wrote in post #10516853 (external link)
Great shots. I believe you've got a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron in #4. Easiest way to tell the difference with a Blacked Crowned Night Heron is the eyes. The latter's are bright red. Would like to visit your area sometime soon on our boat. It looks beautiful.

Do you know this from experience or do you have a really good bird book? Only asking because I have a bird book, but it's considered a field edition and it's limited as to what it says about each species.

I'd like to get a better one since I'm always looking various birds up for ID and for markings

Pat your going to make me come up there and spend a few days if you keep posting pic's like these. Great shots.

If anyone wants to come up and visit, I cant gurantee that I can get the boat, because we're using a friends when we go out on these excursions, but if you have your own and it can travel in shallow waters, I'm always willing to act as a guide and we can always share lenses.

Between mywife and I, we have quite the arsenal! Just send me a PM and give me a few days notice as to when you're coming

Thanks for the comments


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Pauhana
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Jul 11, 2010 16:30 as a reply to  @ EveryMilesAMemory's post |  #9

Just checked against some pic's I have for YCNH. Looks like the same bird.

And yep Peterson's Field Guide say's red eye for Black Crowned

don't expect a boat. Like the looks of the Tiki Bar and sunsets.


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EveryMilesAMemory
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Jul 12, 2010 09:40 |  #10

Pauhana wrote in post #10517134 (external link)
Just checked against some pic's I have for YCNH. Looks like the same bird.

And yep Peterson's Field Guide say's red eye for Black Crowned

don't expect a boat. Like the looks of the Tiki Bar and sunsets.

Thanks for the info and I'll be looking for a Peterson's Field Guide!

Tiki Bar and Sunsets are always a great place to review the days shots while knocking a few back :D


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Jul 12, 2010 09:56 |  #11

Very nice series, looks like you have a great setup with that boat. I'm a native Floridian myself who now lives in Minnesota. BTW, your eagle is an immature bald, not a golden. Goldens don't hang around near water, and they're not in range in Florida. A couple of good ID points on your photo that really give it away. The dark beak is that of a juvenile, and the fact that goldens are booted eagles (feathers all the way down to the feet), where this one is clearly not. Bald eagles are fish eagles.


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EveryMilesAMemory
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Jul 12, 2010 10:12 as a reply to  @ gymell's post |  #12

Thanks for the info Liz, I'm pretty new to the birding thing, so any help in the ID department helps me learn.

This makes much more sense because we have a pretty healthy population of Bald Eagles around our chain of Islands that all had at least one baby this past winter.

That's why I commented that I was surprised to see a Golden this far out over the water. We see lots of golden eagles when we're heading inland to Crystal River where there are lots of Deer that have been hit by motorists, and the big birds will be picking at the carcasses.

Thanks again for the info! If any of my other birds are labeled wrong, please feel free to let me know


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gymell
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Jul 12, 2010 10:23 |  #13

Golden eagles aren't in range in Florida at any time of year. They are birds of dry open habitats like desert, mountain, plateau, etc. Here in MN we only see them in bluff prairies. The eagles you're seeing at the deer carcasses are juvenile bald eagles. See this information about habitat and range map (external link).


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Jul 12, 2010 11:01 |  #14

Great stuff. We have a White Pelican rookery near here, but I have not found it yet. I have found where they roost, but they can all fly when they go there. :)


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EveryMilesAMemory
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Jul 12, 2010 12:09 as a reply to  @ canonloader's post |  #15

Thanks again Liz.

I would love to see the White Pelican Babies. They winter here in Cedar Key, or at least some really big flocks do, and it's always cool to see them


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