Birder's Eye View

Monday, July 28, 2008

New pelican sketch

"A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week..."
...And we'll just leave it at that.

Anywho, this is my latest bird sketch, a Brown Pelican. I did it with pencil and charcoal on watercolor paper. Kind of trying out a new combination of mediums.

It was alright, but hard to do with the grain of the watercolor paper. Oh well, at least I know now!

Happy birding!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birding... yeah, I don't have a nifty title for this one.

"The bluebird carries the sky on his back."
-Henry David Thoreau

I tagged along on a trip to Crystal River today and got to explore some of the Great FL Birding Trails and parks in that area. Our first stop was the Crystal River Archaeological State Park.

I didn't see any new birds here, but I did see three Eastern Bluebirds. I was surprised to see them this time of year, as they usually dissappear after May or June.

There was even a juvenile sitting on one the branches. I've never seen a young bluebird before, so I thought this was pretty interesting.

In addition to the great abundance of mosquitoes, we also seem to be plagued by giant lubber grasshoppers. These guys were literally everwhere; we had to be careful where we stepped. This one was sitting on the back of our car.

A couple miles down the road for the archaeological site is Crystal River Buffer Preserve, a spectacular nature area. There was a seemingly out-of-place cedar forest here, with trails winding through. I didn't hike these though, as it was midday, steaming hot outside, and swarming with mosquitoes. I'm definitely going back there some winter though, to explore it some more.

A turtle? Nope. Look closer. It's a water snake! Looks like a Banded Water Snake, although I could be wrong.

Across the water, I saw my very first Yellow-crowned Night Heron. This was a fun find, as I've been trying to see one for a while now.

On the way home, we saw a sign that said "Bluebird Springs," so we stopped in to take a look. Although designated as a Great FL Birding Trail, there was little out at that time of day. A Great Blue Heron stalked through the reeds by the spring, but beyond that, it was just hot and mosquito-y.

So, it was a long day, with only one life bird, but nonetheless interesting and enjoyable. My bird list for day was:
  • black vulture
  • turkey vulture
  • snowy egret
  • cattle egret
  • great egret
  • great blue heron
  • yellow-crowned night heron
  • boat tailed grackle
  • american crow
  • anhinga
  • cardinal
  • eastern bluebird
  • sandhill crane
  • loggerhead shrike
  • mourning dove
  • red-shouldered hawk
  • red-bellied woodpecker
  • chimney swift

Not great, but not bad. It was fun, and that's what counts.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Birder on campus

"Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

As August draws steadily closer, I am constantly reminded of two things: college and new birding opportunities.

Yeah, it sounds kind of silly and trivial now, but think about it: I'm going away on my own to study and learn more than I ever have before. I'll be in a new place, which, by default, gives me the opportunity to see new birds.

The college is right on the water, so I expect to see some great sea- and shorebirds, as well as migratory species in the Spring and Fall. So there's gotta be a catch, right?


As it turns out, I'm most likely going to be the only birder on campus. This doesn't surprise me, but it is a bit disappointing. Talking with some of the other freshmen online, I have found that none of them are even remotely interested in birding.

But that won't stop me. Birding alone is certainly not new to me (quite the contrary -- I have gone birding with a group once before!), so I will definitely make the best of it.

With kayaks available to students on campus and nature trails scattered throughout the area, I will be birding whenever possible!

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Oh so close!

What a summer so far. Getting ready for college, trying to earn money and waiting out daily afternoon lightning storms has left little time for birding.

I went birding at the archery range today for about an hour but came up with nothing new. It was a bad time of day to go; I hate early afternoon. I saw quite a few Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Cardinals, a Downy Woodpecker, and heard an Osprey, but beyond that, the short trip was uneventful.

I have come close to seeing a couple new species though. Oh, so close! In my backyard, I found Yellow-bellied Sapsucker holes on an elm tree. I have never actually seen a sapsucker, which would be lifer for me.

And yesterday evening, my mom reported she saw a hummingbird at the penta flowers in our garden. I've been checking the flowers periodically, hoping the bird will come back. I have yet to see a hummer this year, so my hopes are up! It would be great to see one in my own yard.

Wish I had something more exciting to report on, but alas, I do not.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

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