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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Central Florida 22nd May to 5th June 2010 (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Arrived at Sanford Airport around 4pm for our second visit to Florida. Cattle Egret and Tri-colored Heron were the first birds seen while taxiing to our stand. Boat-tailed Grackle, Black Vulture and Great Egret were added on the way to our hotel which was located in the Lake Buena Vista area.
I was up early on Sunday morning to visit Gatorland where you can buy a photographers pass and enter the park at 7.30am. The rookery provides excellent close up views of Great, Cattle and Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored, Green and Great Blue Herons as well as Wood Storks. There were also nesting Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga and Black Vultures around the rookery area. The only warblers seen in that area were juvenile Northern Parulas. I decided to take the “Swamp Walk” and this proved to be a good decision with my first lifers of the trip Tufted Titmouse and Yellow-throated Warbler both present, although not much else was seen. Ended up doing some shopping in the afternoon which added House Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, American Crow and Loggerhead Shrike. Common Nighthawk was heard but not seen around the hotel in the evening.
After a bit of dithering we headed for Viera Wetlands on Monday morning and this proved to be a good decision. This was my first visit and I loved the place, loads of birds and some were very approachable. First bird of note was a Crested Caracara accompanied by several Turkey Vultures swiftly followed by a very obliging Limpkin strolling along the road in front of us. This was my first proper view of this species with only brief views on our previous trip. There were a few seen throughout the day in different areas. There were also a few Pied-billed Grebes present in the retention ponds and several White Ibis were also seen. A group of Purple Martins and a single Osprey perched on the remains of palm trees, presumably damaged in previous hurricanes. After eating our lunch a pair of Sandhill Cranes with two chicks in tow offered very close up views. My first lifer of the day, Black-bellied Whistling Duck gave distant views, with a group of around eight birds perched on a fairly inaccessible corner, luckily we obtained very close views of one individual around five feet from the car later. A second lifer, Least Bittern provided good flight views and looked very small compared to the other Herons and Egrets present. Shortly afterwards a Green Heron was seen perched on a reed before flying off. Another Loggerhead Shrike was also present and a single small Alligator stared at us from a safe distance.
25th was a shopping day and very little seen apart from House Sparrows. More to follow........
Headed down to Joe Overstreet Road today and upon arrival we had Eastern Meadowlarks giving great views on fence posts along the roadside but unfortunately not a lot else for some distance. As we approached the landing area a Red-shouldered Hawk was hunting in the fields and being constantly mobbed by a Northern Mockingbird. A few Common Ground-Doves and Mourning Dove were also showing close to the roadside. We parked at the landing area and a scan of the lake gave distant views of a pair of adult Bald Eagles, the usual Egrets, Great and Little Blue Herons and both Glossy and White Ibis. There were two Whooping Cranes present in company with a single Sandhill Crane. A Loggerhead Shrike was feeding young in the car park and I nearly stood on a nesting Killdeer before her mate managed to draw me away from the nest. No sign of any Snail Kites which was a disappointment. We decided to head down to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area and on the way back out a large Soft-shelled Turtle was sunning itself near to the road and a Bobwhite showed really well calling and displaying on a fence post. Almost as soon as we turned out of Joe Overstreet a Caracara and Eastern Bluebird were seen perched along the roadside. Upon arrival at Three Lakes the first bird seen was a Brown Thrasher followed fairly quickly by a single Red-cockaded Woodpecker flying across in front of us and perching further into the wood. This proved to be the only sighting although a Red-bellied was seen further on. My only lifer of the day in the shape of a Great-crested Flycatcher was the next bird to show. Northern Parula and Eastern Bluebirds were the only other birds of note seen before we headed home. Wild Turkey was added to the list on our way back.
We decided to head to Merritt Island to try and find Florida Scrub-Jay and in the end we were not disappointed. We decided to stop first at the Visitor Centre and a Cardinal was singing from the tree above our car and later ended up sitting on my car door while trying to attack its own reflection in my wing mirror. A pair of Ospreys had a nest with young near the visitor centre and on the trail my first lifer of the day, Eastern Screech Owl were using a nest box and gave great views before disappearing inside. Another Parula was seen in the car park and a Limpkin was calling from the reeds. We headed down the road towards Playalinda Beach and stopped at the first parking area to look for the Scrub-Jays. We drew a blank here but I spotted my first two snakes in Florida, both Garter Snakes as far as my limited knowledge goes. One was submerged in a roadside ditch and the other in the trees above the ditch. Shortly after leaving the parking area another snake forced me to stop as it crossed in front of the car, this snake was much darker and long and thin, possibly a Black Racer. We headed down to the Scrub Ridge Trail and almost immediately a single Florida Scrub-Jay appeared and checked us out at close range. We walked on and this bird followed and was joined by a second individual on the way back. A Black-necked Stilt showed in the sandy area close to the trail. We headed back to Black Point Wildlife Drive and as we drove round there were several more stilts as well as the other commoner species. Reddish Egret was added to the trip list as was American White Pelican with a fairly big flock present. There was also a Laughing Gull present as well as Willet, Black-bellied Plover, Semi-palmated Plovers and my third lifer of the day, a pair of Least Terns. A single Wood Stork and a single Roseate Spoonbill were also in the area and a pair of Common Nighthawks gave great views in broad daylight. A Northern Harrier showed briefly and Green Herons with young gave great views. A second Great-crested Flycatcher was seen near the exit and on the way back to the hotel more Bobwhites were seening running along the verge of the freeway.

After a couple of non birding days while we shopped and moved to our villa where we're staying our second week we headed down to Brinson Park in Kissimmee this morning. Loads of Egrets and Herons around and a few Ospreys were hunting around the lake. A Limpkin was seen early on and Black-necked Stilts showed further across the lake. I'd just commented about the number of huge snail shells suggesting Snail Kites should be present when a male appeared giving good but fairly distant views. This was followed by another perched, but still too far away for decent pictures. A number of other Limpkins were seen in the area and after a while we decided to move further across the lake. Almost as soon as we left the car my wife pointed out an American Purple Gallinule, another lifer for me which gave amazingly close views before disappearing into the lakeside vegetation. Further along a pair of Limpkins and their two young searched for food, totally oblivious to people in the area. We passed within 3 or 4 feet of one of the adults without it flying off and one of the youngsters actually splashed me when it was bathing. There were a couple of Alligators and a few turtles also present in the area as well as loads of fire ant mounds which we carefully avoided. On returning to our villa our next door neighbour caught and released a fairly big black snake of 4 to 5 feet. A fourth snake of the trip after having none at all the last time we were here. Hoping that a Barred Owl which I heard calling last night puts in an appearance tonight but I'll be treading warily as the surrounding woodland looks like ideal Cottonmouth habitat.
I'll upload pictures once I'm back in Scotland as I don't have any decent editing software loaded on my wife's laptop.

A fairly frustrating day with our second visit to Three Lakes ending up without me seeing any of my two target species, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. We did see a Swallow-tailed Kite which provided some compensation as well as Brown Thrasher and our only Common Yellowthroat of the trip so far. Red-cockaded Woodpecker showed a bit better than on the first visit and a Red-bellied Woodpecker with Yellow on the nape threw me. I also saw a flycatcher which I was unable to identify and which disappeared without the opportunity for a photo. A juvenile Bald Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawks also showed well during the day but overall it was disappointing to end the day without a lifer, the first birding day of the trip where that has happened.
2nd and 3rd June

Just back from an overnight trip to the gulf coast. Visited Boca Ciega Millennium Park looking for Clapper Rails that had been present there. A visit in the afternoon failed to deliver but I had great views of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron feedig alongside the boardwalk. Our first Blue Jays, Brown-headed Cowbird and Brown Pelicansof the trip were seen before we headed up to Dunedin to check in to our hotel. After check-in and something to eat we headed back down to the park for another look and this time we were lucky with my wife picking up a single Clapper Rail almost as soon as we arrived. I managed to get some record shots before the bird disappeared back into the mangroves never to be seen again. The YC Night-Heron was still present and that along with a Racoon feeding and our fifth snake(a possible rattler this time) of the trip kept us occupied.
The following morning we headed for Honeymoon Island and stopped at the Dog Walk beach where there were some waders present including Killdeer, White-rumped and possibly Least Sandpipers, a couple of Dowitchers and Semi-palmated and Wilson's Plover which was another lifer for me. A Royal Tern was also seen hunting the shallows and Common Ground-doves gave great views. We then headed for the nature trail which was unfortunately closed to allow controlled burning to take place. We stopped at the picnic area nearby and the first bird seen was another lifer Gray Kingbird which showed briefly before disappearing. After a fairly long wait the Kingbird re-appeared and provided good views. A visit to the beach carpark produced a Least Tern hunting just offshore and on the way out we saw two fairly large tortoises at the side of the road. All in all a good trip with only one more day's birding to go tomorrow before we're heading home for Scotland.
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4th June

Just noticed that I omitted American Oystercatcher from our visit to the gulf, a pair close to our hotel in the morning. Today we headed back to Three Lakes to try and catch up with Brown-headed Nuthatch. As we entered the park total silence apart from Mockingbirds calling. We made our way through the Red-cockaded area and ended up seeing several Great-crested Flycatchers and what has since been identified as a Bachman's Sparrow. A Swallow-tailed Kite showed in virtually the same location as previously and a family of Red-shouldered Hawks showed at various points. Another black snake was seen by my wife only around 12ft from where I was standing in the longish grass but still no Nuthatches. We stopped in some shade for lunch and then headed back towards the entrance for one last try. As we neared the charmingly named Gut Pit I heard a strange call but not the squeaky toy call of the Nuthatches. While looking for the bird we noticed a group of smaller birds nearer the car feeding away silently and there they were a family group of Brown-headed Nuthatches with the young begging for food. We watched them moving through the trees but for some reason they did not give the characteristic call we'd been listening for and locating them, my thirteenth lifer of the trip, had involved a large slice of luck. Time for a couple of hours birding in the morning before we head to the airport. I'll post a complete list of species and some pics in the next couple of days
Arrived home safely and have now had time to compose a list of the species seen which comprises a modest 91 species with 13 lifers which is close to the dozen I'd expected. Given a choice April or earlier in May would be a much better time but that wasn't possible this year. A recommended destination, particularly if you haven't been in North America previously and even more so if you're a photographer, pics will follow after editing.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Mottled Duck
Wild Turkey
Northern Bobwhite
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Crested Caracara
Clapper Rail
American Purple Gallinule

Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Whooping Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Wilson’s Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Least Tern
Royal Tern
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Screech-Owl
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Gray Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Blue Jay
Florida Scrub-Jay
American Crow
Purple Martin
Tufted Titmouse
Brown-headed Nuthatch

Eastern Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Northern Parula
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Bachman’s Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow
First of the pics attached


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And more.........


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................and lastly


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Sounds like you had a fairly successful trip, Alex. You are right. June is not the easiest time of year for birding here, unless you are bent on getting breeding specialties in South Florida for your ABA list (Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-whiskered Vireo, Antillean Nighthawk, etc). I stop birding in June in Florida or travel elsewhere, usually!

I led a group of Swedish birders into the Everglades at the end of March, and they emailed me at the end of the trip that they had accomplished 201 species during a two week period -- winter is definitely best for diversity. Consider a trip to the south next time. White-crowned Pigeons and hordes of wintering passerines (especially warblers) await!

Sounds like you had a fairly successful trip, Alex. You are right. June is not the easiest time of year for birding here, unless you are bent on getting breeding specialties in South Florida for your ABA list (Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-whiskered Vireo, Antillean Nighthawk, etc). I stop birding in June in Florida or travel elsewhere, usually!

I led a group of Swedish birders into the Everglades at the end of March, and they emailed me at the end of the trip that they had accomplished 201 species during a two week period -- winter is definitely best for diversity. Consider a trip to the south next time. White-crowned Pigeons and hordes of wintering passerines (especially warblers) await!



I'd intended going further south on this trip but didn't make it in the end. Saw White-crowned Pigeon on my last visit in the Key Largo area. Don't know when I'll be back in Florida, the western states look like a good bet with Arizona/California top of my list for my next trip across the pond. Thanks again for all your helpful advice for this trip
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