Birder's Eye View

Sunday, January 10, 2010

S'no place like Florida

Driving to our field trip destination, the air temperature was a comfortable 60 degrees, but the sky was quickly darkening as a cold front moved in from the north. We were headed to the Tierra Verde ponds, a location well-known for its impressive migratory duck populations.

I wasn't sure what to expect -- I knew I'd passed these ponds many a time and had never noticed anything spectacular about them. But I had never passed them during wintertime before.

Upon arrival, everyone gasped with surprise. Easily half the surface was covered by a mass of ducks! I couldn't even capture the scale of it, and by the time I took the above picture they had all flocked together, covering a much smaller area.

Most of the ducks were Redheads (we estimated 600 total) but there were also Ruddy Ducks, Lesser Scaups, Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots, and apparently a couple American Wigeons mixed in. I was a little dissapointed I couldn't find the Wigeon, but by the time it was spotted, it was starting to rain and the group was hightailing it back to the cars.

The site was still impressive though. Several other birders were visiting as well, all with their binocs and scopes trained on the flocks to pick out every species they could find.

On our way back to the car, I noticed in a pine tree a large bird that hadn't been there before. Stepping out of the walkway so as not to get trampled by the people behind me, I raised my binoculars, hardly daring to wonder if it could be an eagle. The professor noticed I had stopped, and she looked too, soon followed by the rest of the class. It was, indeed a Bald Eagle, apparently scouting out the nest sitting below it on the tree.

After class, I spent another hour birding, but by then the weather had really taken a turn for the worst.

Saturday morning, temperatures dropped to the mid-30s and didn't rise the whole day. Around mid-afternoon, we began to hear reports from friends and friends-of-friends that it was snowing in some parts of Florida! Even as nearby as an hour away, many of the inland towns were experiencing snow flurries.

Sadly though, I never got to see any (why am I always in the wrong place at the wrong time?). Pictures on Facebook and in the local paper showed people holding tiny snowmen in the palms of their hands and a dust of snowflakes falling from the early morning sky. I couldn't help but be a little bit jealous. Almost 20 years old and I've still never seen snow, even when it practically falls in my own backyard!

Oh well, I can still say I was here during record low temperatures. This morning there was ice outside, and the puddles on the roof of my dorm are frozen solid. It's 36-degrees-feels-like-27 according to

Until next time,

Peace out!

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  • Check out the snowman I made while on the boat a few days ago....

    and the icicle and ice in the birdbath

    By Blogger Carol, At January 10, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

  • If you really want some snow I have alot to spare up here...I can ship some down! In fact you can have it all!

    By Blogger Larry, At January 11, 2010 at 9:51 AM  

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