Friday, 22 March 2013

Bird Walk at Oscar Scherer State Park

Yesterday Skip and I got up early to go on the guided bird walk at Oscar Scherer State Park. We hoped to see the Scrub Jay again and hopefully other birds we couldn't find on our own.

We were a group of about 18 people including some expert birders and a photographer with a massive telephoto lens on his camera. Unfortunately, our guide talked incessantly which made it difficult to hear the bird calls and locate them. We were fortunate to see the scrub jay again. See the bands on its legs?

and a red-bellied woodpecker.
After that, we went to the Venice Rookery where in the middle of a man-made lake is a roost for dozens of egrets, herons and anhingas.
It was very noisy with many babies calling for food. We saw several nests of anhinga babies, white egret babies, great blue heron babies, their parents and an elusive black-crowned night heron.

Behind the rookery is a water treatment facility. On the grassy banks of it were resting several dozen black-bellied whistling ducks.
By contrast, these guys were quite alert.
We also got a close-up shot of this yellow-rumped warbler.
On our way back home, we stopped in at the 'Celery Fields' to see what was there. Initially, there were only a couple of grebes, moorhens and a limpkin nearby. An anhinga was drying off and warming its feathers sitting on the railing.
 We hung around for a while and saw a red-shouldered hawk and several ibis and roseate spoonbills flying in.

Here are several shots of roseate spoonbills on the wing.

This wood stork also flew in while we were there.

Blue-winged teal.

Some type of warbler (to be identified...)
And some type of sparrow.

Just down the road is another man-made body of water. We think it is stocked with fish as several Forster's terns were fishing for their supper.
After our busy day of birding, we both were falling asleep on the couch at about 8pm - a 'good kind of tired' after our day observing nature.

Skip has been a birder for over 30 years. I became interested in it when I identified my first bird on a trip to Costa Rica with Skip and Scooter in 2003. I had one of those laminated fold-up brochures called "Birds of Costa Rica" and was able to identify the black-throated magpie jay. After that, I was hooked. I needed a lot of help for the first couple of years. Skip was a very good guide. After a while I got better and better at identifying birds with the help of a good pair of binoculars and a good birding guide. We have also travelled to a lot of world-class birding spots, Pelee Point and Long Point in Ontario, the Caribbean, the Rio Grande Valley and South Padre Island, Florida, and other places we've travelled. Also, where we live east of Toronto is an excellent place to spot migratory birds.

I don't painstakingly keep life lists noting dates and locales of new species spotted but I do use checklists and often tally up what we see in any given geographical location. Thus far on all our birding ventures in Florida this year, we've spotted 70 species and we haven't really done any seaside birding this trip.

Birdwatching is a fun past time. One gets to spend time outdoors, usually in nice weather, observing plants and animals. The walking isn't usually very strenuous and the fresh air is invigorating. You don't have to spend a lot of money once you have a good pair of binoculars and good birding guide or you could spend lots of money traveling to well-known birding spots. One doesn't need to be an expert to enjoy identifying birds and matching what one sees to what's in the guide. If you're interested in doing some guided birding, find a park or wildlife centre where birding takes place and sign up for a guided birding tour. Or ask a birder you know if they'll take you birding next time they go out. I don't know a single birder who wouldn't love to share their passion with an interested newbie.

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