April 1, 2013

Springtime in Florida

So right now it is not spring in Arkansas. The calendar says it is, but the calendar lies. However, it is spring in Florida, and that's where I've been hiding for the past few days. I had the chance to attend the 91st annual meeting of the Association of Field Ornitholgists which took place at Archbold Biological Station in Venus, FL. It was my first scientific conference and it was tons of fun. Myself and three of the other graduate students presented some of our data and met a lot of really cool ornithologists (I met THE bluebird person for the south and had a mini celebrity moment). In addition to all the cool talks and things we attended we also got to go birding in Central FL and on Sanibel island off the gulf coast. In total we saw 96 different species, I don't have pictures of them all (cameras don't work too well out of the window of a moving vehicle), but I did try.
This is a Florida Scrub Jay, which is only found in the oak scrub of Florida

Researchers at Archbold have been studying this bird for the past 45 years

Apparently, they really like to be fed peanuts

This is a view of the beautiful spanish moss in the trees around the cabin

Great crested flycatcher on the clothesline

Male Northern Bobwhite quail, this is the only birdcall I can imitate

Female American kestrel, we hoped it was the FL subspecies, but it wasn't

This is the back-end of a Palm Warbler, it wasn't being photogenic that day

There were a lot of Flycatchers hanging around the station

On saturday morning we headed out to the gulf to bird, saw really cool fog
Black-Crowned Night Heron in a tree on the side of the road

White Pelican at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island

Reddish egret, sadly I missed out on taking pictures of the silly dance they do

Little Blue Heron with a fish that was too big for it to swallow

It captured two fish that it couldn't handle before it finally found a small one

Osprey were everywhere, they have nesting platforms all over FL

Going in for the dive

No fish this time, just debris
Poor Osprey, it's okay there are plenty of fish in the sea (I'm sorry, I had to)

Anhinga are really weird looking birds, but they're also really cool

I think they look like dinosuars

Red-breasted Merganser (a type of Duck)

Dancing double-crested cormorants

They sun themselves to dry their wings after they dive for fish

White Ibis that was really close to us

The large group of gawkers didn't seem to bother it at all

Just kept looking for fish

One of many Willets, this one caught a fish

Ring-billed gull, the same kind we get on lakes in Texas

Flying Snowy Egret, it has yellow feet and black legs, which sets it apart

Fishing snowy egret

Another cool shot of a osprey with prey

Wait, this isn't a bird! It is prey though, Ibises like to eat mangrove crabs

Lots of small shorebirds that I have trouble telling apart

Flock of willets flying overhead

Now we switch to Corkscrew Swamp and a Ground Dove at the feeder

Grey Catbirds were easily the most common bird in Corkscrew Swamp

Flowering Bromeliead, which is an airplant that doesn't require soil

This red-shouldered hawk took a dive at our heads 10 seconds after this shot

They landed just on the other side of the catwalk

This Parula Warbler did not appear to care how close we were

It was just hanging out (Again, so sorry for the puns, I may have a problem)

I love how tiny birds just decide to ignore gravity sometimes
Uh-oh, I think it noticed me

A black and white warbler then decided to join the party

Warblers do not care for your silly "up" and "down"

Oh, I think I've been spotted again

And now all I get are rump shots

Northern Waterthrush hopping about in the wallow of a Gator

Looking at it's pretty reflection in the tiny pool of water

Gator in a pool so small only its head would fit in the water

The waterthrush doesn't seem to worried about the 200lbs of dinosuar behind it
Now, when we first left for Corkscrew Swamp we were promised well, a swamp. Up until this point all we had seen was a lot of cypress trees and two very dry gators in a very dry swamp. We were a little disappointed because we were hoping to see some cool waterbirds. But not long after we saw our very dry gators we came across the only remaining water in the whole swamp. It was awesome. 

Woodstork feeling around the water for tasty fish. They aren't the prettiest

Roseate Spoonbills foraging for food. I think they are really pretty birds

More woodstork foraging

Turtle of some sorts chilling out on a log

Spoonbills are so cool

Their bills are weird looking, but they totally pull it off

There were two gators barrel-rolling around this pond chomping on fish

This spoonbill is laughing at your silly looking mouth

Black-crowned night heron on a log

Amazingly the two gators seemed to tolerate each other fairly well

A pair of Juvenile white ibises, they have really varied plumage at this age

Baby Gator! There were about six floating about one end of the pond

Great Egret looking like it has a pretty dress on

There were two young racoons hanging around as well

Pine Warbler hopping around one of the drier spots

Adult night heron watching a juvenile try to be cool

The other racoon, digging around for bugs or crayfish

Spoonbills are so much cooler than Flamingos

One of two juvenile Night herons that kept being chased around by the adults

Can you tell I like spoonbills yet?

Poor night heron couldn't keep a perch for more than a minute

Great egrets remind me of ballerinas

Barred Owl taking a nice mid-day nap

Ovenbird taking advantage of the bird feeders

Male Painted buntings are some of the coolest looking birds
You can't see, but his back is lime green, the same color as the females
Female painted bunting bathing in a water feature
This red-bellied woodpecker was a jerk and chased the bunting off
 Overall Florida was really cool and I was pretty sad to leave the nice springtime and come back to Arkansas' sad attempt at spring. But now I can get back to my bluebirds, my first nest is due to hatch in 4 days! I'll try my best to be better about updating this, but I make no promises.