Monday, 12 February 2018

Florida: Day #1, Productive Resort Birding!

So since our flight had gotten into Orlando after dark, I still had to wait another few anxious hours to bird around my grandparents resort before we headed off to our first family (birding) stop of the trip; Circle B Bar. My Grandma had suggested it, and I was happy to go, because after a quick bit of eBird research, it appeared to be a very good spot, that I'd somehow missed in my pre-trip research.
          I'd like to say that the beautiful songs of Carolina Chickadees and other specialty species woke me up, but they didn't. A combination of my alarm and surprisingly loud Boat-tailed Grackles did however! My first lifer of the trip! Although I knew they were going to be easy, I was still excited to bump my list up one. I stepped outside, and was immediately surrounded by birds. Turns out that Florida's Chickadees and House Sparrows are actually Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers! They were everywhere and flitted all around the man made pond at the resort. I heard a White-winged Dove briefly call, a bit unexpected for me, and a bird I din't think I was going to get for the year! Some suspiciously fat looking ducks greeted me as well, my first comfortably countable Muscovy Ducks!

They seemed to gravitate towards unnatural perches

Muscovy Ducks are probably as domesticated an animal can get, but they've been introduced and have escaped from captivity all over Florida, and now have become quite established in many ponds like this. No less countable than Ring-necked Pheasants in my opinion! I kept walking, and came up to a slightly more naturalized pond, where I found my last North American heron, a Tricoloured Heron roosting with a bunch of Anhingas, another lifer!

The morning light gave it a very purplish sheen, truly a beautiful heron!

I believe this bird is a young female, a truly interesting bird, half cormorant, half snake!

There was also a pair of dabbling ducks; a female Mallard and a male Mottled Duck. After a little bit of research, I found that a large percentage of 'Mottled Ducks' in Florida are actually hybrids, between Mottled Duck and Mallard. I did later see a pair of definitive Mottled Ducks, but I would be interested what this bird really is:

Any thoughts welcome. The fact that it's paired with a Mallard makes me lean hybrid right off the bat, but I have pretty much no experience, so I would like to see what anyone has to say.

I found myself in a little swarm of passerines, mostly the two warblers species, but also mixed in was a few Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, Carolina Wrens and Tufted Titmice. I saw a Vireo flit off from the mix, and I got excited, White-eyed Vireo!!??? Nope! But it turns out that Blue-headed Vireos are fairly uncommon down here, at any rate they're not dirt common. Although my morning had been quite productive, I knew that we needed to get to Circle B Bar fairly soon, so I headed back. I ate a quick bowl of oatmeal (courtesy of my Grandpa), and decided to do one last little jog around. Good thing I did, because as I headed back to the car, a yellow flash caught my eye. At first I thought it was the slightly more uncommon Yellow subspecies of Palm Warbler, but as I lifted my bins up, I noticed a very distinct, lemon yellow, finely streaked warbler. A Prairie Warbler! It wasn't in anything that really resembled a prairie, just a somewhat dry section of bushes right up against the resort buildings. 

A beautiful Warbler! Good to get after I'd repeatedly missed it in Ontario!

I quickly hopped into the car, and we were off to Circle B Bar!

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