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First of Fall Painted Bunting 2018

It’s that time of year again!  We looked out the window this afternoon and saw a male Painted Bunting feasting at our millet feeder.  A few minutes later, he was splashing around in the birdbath.

Painted Bunting Bathtime

Painted Bunting Bathtime (Photo from 2017)

These colorful birds are one of my backyard favorites.  This year I spotted my first bunting before my first Palm Warbler (I’ve heard warblers, just not seen them yet.)

Maybe this year I’ll get more photos like this, but without clipping wings! ;-)

Painted Bunting in Flight

Painted Bunting in Flight (Photo from spring 2018)

 

Carpe Camera! Chasing Warblers at LAWD

You wouldn’t think it’s fall if you stepped outside in my hot, sunny FL backyard.  But the birds know that it’s fall, and their migration is well underway. This morning I spent a few hours at the Crazy U at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Just after sunrise, there was a nice mixed flock of warblers and other “tweety birds.”  Photographing them was a challenge as they moved quickly, stayed mostly in the shadows, and tended to stay far above my head. But it was still a great morning to be outside, and I had several good finds. :)

Yellow Warbler with Balsam Apple Seed

Yellow Warbler with Balsam Apple Seed

There were several Yellow Warblers this morning.  This one drew the attention of the photographers when he hopped over to the Balsam Apple vine and pulled out a red seed.  Cameras went click-click-click as the bird posed out in the sunlight with his prize.  Other birds preferred to stay in the shadows…

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

…while a third individual posed in the rays of the early morning sun.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

The Yellow Warblers were curious little things.  This one hopped out right in front of me.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

While the Yellow Warblers were the most numerous in the bunch, they certainly weren’t the only warblers in the flock.  I saw several Common Yellowthroats, including male, female, and first-year males.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat (First Year Male)

A tiny Northern Parula found a sunlit spot to pose for a few short seconds. Warbler photography definitely tests the skill of the photographer in finding and tracking small moving objects!

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers came and went, hovering like hummingbirds and darting between branches with the agility of a gymnast.  I never get tired of watching these tiny clowns.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

My gray cat Squirt was happy to hear of my first-of-fall Gray Catbird.  Mrrow!  Go home and feed Squirt!   Mrrow!

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

I only saw this Red-eyed Vireo for a few seconds, but I managed to get a few frames on him.  I love how he turned and looked head-on at the camera.  I’ve never seen his facial stripes looking straight at me before.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Possibly the “best bird” of the morning was a Northern Waterthrush.  I heard him before I saw him, then I went poking into the underbrush, and he posed for me for a few seconds.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

I spent so long at the Crazy U that I didn’t linger at some of my other favorite places on the wildlife drive. The winter birds are definitely arriving. Blue-winged Teal mixed with the Fulvous Whistling-Ducks.  I spotted a few Northern Shovelers.  I hope the ducks come in good numbers this winter and hang out in the ponds with good morning sun angles.  But until they get here, my last shot of the morning was a Green Heron enjoying a nice minnow.

Green Heron with Minnow

Green Heron with Minnow

eBirdFind my birding list from today on eBird.

Black-necked Stilt Family at LAWD

You know it’s summer in Central Florida when you see families of Black-necked Stilts hanging out in the wetlands.  It’s especially nice for photographers when they choose to hang out right up on the roads at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

Black-necked Stilt Family

Black-necked Stilt Family

On this particular morning, I came across a family with two adults and two juveniles.  One adult was busy looking for breakfast in the nearby canal.  The other adult was clearly on baby-sitting duty.  They didn’t seem too worried when I got out of my car and knelt down to photograph them at their level.  Then again, with a 600mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter, I wasn’t close enough to worry them.

I love the red eyes and delicate beaks of these beautiful birds.

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

The juveniles seemed hot and maybe a little bored.  One sat in the grass on the side of the road, unconcerned with passing traffic.  The other juvie decided to cross the road.  Why did the stilt cross the road?  We’ll never know…

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Halfway across the road, he got sleepy and plopped down in the middle of the sand!

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

It’s a good thing that most drivers on the wildlife drive are very careful not to disturb random birds hanging out in the middle of the road!