Birdwatching at Circle B Bar Reserve – 7/22/11

Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:17 KJV)

I was making a video of a Tricoloered Heron out at Circle B  when I caught this interesting sight. I zoomed out to get a view of the pond and as I zoomed back in on the bird, he and I both were surprised to see what was heading toward us. The Heron decided to get his feet out of the water, go stand on a rock, and I decided to stop the video when the alligator started out of the water in my direction.

Wood Stork Tree at Circle B - 7-22-11

Wood Stork Tree at Circle B - 7-22-11 by Lee

Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:17 KJV)

Circle B Bar Reserve is always fun to bird watch. You never know what might be there. We had been somewhat disappointed in the number of birds and were heading back when I spotted the Heron. The most numerous birds out there were all the Wood Storks up in the trees. We still managed to see 21 birds on a clear, 79 degree morning. Here is a list of the birds spotted or heard.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks – 9
Great Egrets – 25+
Cattle Egrets – 5
Tricolored Heron – 3
Great Blue Herons – 3
Limpkin – 1
Double-crested Cormorants – 5
Anhingas – 2
Wood Storks – 100+
Moorhens -15+
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures, mixed – 50+
Mourning Doves – 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Boat-tailed Grackles – 10
Common Grackles – 5
Blue Jays 2
Uncertain Wren – heard -1
Cardinal – 2

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree at Circle B by Lee

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree at Circle B by Lee

When we left there, we decided to check out Saddle Creek Park since we already had our cameras and binoculars. We got there around 9:40 and it was already 86 degrees by then. Seventeen species of birds decided to let us count them. Most of the birds were the same kind we had seen at the Circle B, but we did pick up some White Ibises, a Fish Crow, Little Blue Heron and Tufted Titmouse.

Great Blue Heron Juvenile at Saddle Creek by Lee

Great Blue Heron Juvenile at Saddle Creek by Lee

That list was (in the order they were spotted); Cattle Egrets, Blue Jays, Boat-tailed Grackles, Anhinga-female, Moorhens, Great Egret, Fish Crow, Common Grackles, Great Blue Herons, White Ibises, Tricolored Heron, Great Blue Heron-juvenile, Ospreys, Little Blue Heron, Anhinga, Double-crested Cormorants, Black Vultures and the Tufted Titmouse.

Always enjoy watching God’s Creation even when they are the same ones we see often. Then again, we have lots of human friends that we enjoy visiting with over and over also.

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Saddle Creek Birdwatching – 09/05/09

Saddle Creek Park - Polk County, FL

Saddle Creek Park - Polk County, FL

Today Dan and I headed out to join the group at Saddle Creek, who do a walk each Saturday from Mid-August to October. By the time I figured out that my legs would cooperate and decided to go, the group had already gone down the trail. So we just birded on our own. In just the hour we stayed there, we were able to see or hear at least 26 species, plus the few unknowns.
When we first entered the park, we were greeted by over 40 Wood Storks (see photos). They were standing around, flying around and sitting in trees, so an accurate count was difficult. On the way to the trails we spotted, Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Egret, Common and Boat-tailed Grackles, Northern Mockingbird, Eurasian-collared Doves and Mourning Doves and a Muscovy Duck.

Wood Storks at entrance

Wood Storks at entrance

Back at the parking area for the trails, we heard wood being banged on and sure enough a Pileated Woodpecker was right in the tree above our heads. Later we also heard a Downy and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Along the open area by the pond were several female Common Yellowthroats, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron and in the pond were several Common Moorhens being kept company by two large alligators.

Wood Stork Tree

Wood Stork Tree

While we were watching them, 3 Sandhill Cranes flew over and then some Fish Crows flew by. As we walked along the bushes at the edge of the lake we spotted a Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Belted Kingfisher and heard a Carolina Wren.
All in all, it was a nice birding morning. It was 75° when we started with about 85% humidity. Other than the humidity, it was a great day to enjoy God’s Creation.

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Bird Watcher Passes Goal – from The Ledger

The following is an article in today’s The Ledger, our local newspaper: (the bold type is mine)

THE NATURE OF THINGS
Bird Watcher Hits Goal, Finding 216 Species in Polk

By Tom Palmer, Published: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 9:50 p.m.

Roy Morris‘ quest to see how many species of birds a person could find in Polk County in a year is over.
The total was 216 species, one species more than the minimum of 215 species he said was his goal a year ago.
His total would have been a little higher if he hadn’t been out of town when a couple of species showed up at Saddle Creek Park one fall weekend.
Nevertheless, his list includes some surprises.
This is the first time I know of that anyone has set out intentionally to see how many species they could check off in a year in Polk County. In bird-watching parlance, this is what is known as a “Big Year.”
Morris said the way he looks at it, he has now set a benchmark for others to try to top.
He said his quest revealed a few things about bird-watching opportunities in Polk County. For one, there’s no one place where there are mass gatherings of waterfowl or shorebirds that compare with some of the coastal areas of Florida.
Some local birdwatchers have broached the idea of building “scrapes” in section of wetlands areas of local parks. These are areas that are open, wet and sparsely vegetated, which would attract more shorebirds.
The advantage to something like that is that uncommon species sometimes join the masses of common species in this kind of area.
Although other sites looked promising, Saddle Creek Park near Lakeland remained the best and most dependable place to see songbirds during the fall migration.
Circle B Bar Reserve, one of the better local bird-watching parks, was closed during most of 2008 because of construction.
During the spring migration, songbirds are more commonly seen in coastal parks.
Morris said his quest reinforced the idea that Polk County is a good place to see Florida specialties, such as snail kites, caracaras and burrowing owls.
Morris said he had fun tackling the project and it did get him out of his normal bird-watching haunts to explore new areas of Polk County. He had hoped to reach 220 species or so and that could have been possible if he had found birds that he knows were present in the county because other people saw them.
So what did Morris see?
The list is long and varied. His first bird of the year was a pied-bill grebe, which he saw on Jan. 1, along with 91 other species.
The last bird of the year was an American woodcock he found on Dec. 2.
The most unexpected bird he saw was a magnificent frigatebird, which he spotted among a large group of vultures soaring over Saddle Creek Park on Oct. 25.
Frigatebirds are seabirds. I’ve seen several in Polk, but only after they were pushed inland by a hurricane or tropical storm. This bird’s appearance didn’t appear to be weather-related, which makes the sighting particularly notable.
Some other notable finds included a peregrine falcon, a black-throated green warbler, Canada warbler, red-cockaded woodpecker, dunlin (a kind of shorebird), lark sparrow and scissor-tailed flycatcher.
In case you’re wondering, the official Polk County bird list contains 306 species, but many of them were one-time wonders that showed up years ago, never to be seen again locally.
There is a Web site on Polk County birds that’s maintained by local birdwatcher Chuck Geanangel.
To learn more go to www.polkcountybirds.com.