Beyond the Backyard

Migrant Birds at Fort De Soto

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Summer Tanager (male)

Two weekends ago I had the most amazing morning photographing the migrant birds at Fort De Soto.  The trees were literally dropping with colorful birds.  Red tanagers, orange orioles, blue buntings and grosbeaks, and warblers everywhere.  It was a birder’s paradise. Good birding isn’t always good for the birds.  Most of these birds spend the winters in South America.  In April, they fly north to their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada.  Many cross the Gulf of Mexico, flying nonstop across the ocean in an incredible journey.  They take advantage of the winds to make their flight easier.  But when they encounter a front, their tail winds suddenly become headwinds, which can be deadly for the birds if they are still over water.  They land as soon as they can in what is called a “fallout.”  Fort De Soto is a place where such fallouts sometimes occur.  It offers the birds land, trees, fresh water, and a food source – mulberries. If you’re like me, you may have visited Fort De Soto several times and never known where the famous “mulberry trees” are.  Well, they are by the ranger’s house.  When you pull into the park, turn right […]

Backyard photography

Cedar Waxwings and Spotted Sandpiper

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I love how the days are longer and I can take my camera with me on our evening walks! Tonight we heard high-pitched calls, then looked up to see our first small flock of Cedar Waxwings.  Normally we’ve seen dozens of these birds by this point in the season.  This year, for some reason, we haven’t seen them at all (till tonight).  It’s not a great picture, but at this rate, it may be the only shot I have of waxwings this spring! We walked down by the Lakehurst pond and noticed a little bird poking around in the grass at the shoreline.  I’ve never seen one before, but I think this is a Spotted Sandpiper.  You can see his spots on the second picture below.  I wished I had taken The Beast with me!  The 400 just doesn’t have the same reach… :)

Beyond the Backyard

Callaway Gardens Trip – Spring 2010

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Rich and I decided to take a week off this spring to go to Callaway Gardens to see the azaleas.  With the cold winter and early spring rain, the bloom was supposed to be spectacular.  It’s also very late – so the Callaway Azalea Watch was very helpful in planning our trip. The Mountain Creek Inn was full, so we ended up renting a cottage.  It was really nice.  We were right inside the gardens, and we woke every morning to bird song. One of my favorite things about Callaway is seeing flowers and plants that like colder weather, so I can’t grow them in Florida.  The flower beds were accented with pansies and tulips and daffodils. I took this picture in Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden in the morning while the gardeners were watering the flowers.  The water droplets add a fun effect. Rich asked me to take a tulip picture for his mom, and once I started trying to get good close-ups, I had trouble stopping.  Squirt says I should have gotten more close-ups of pansies while I was at it. Of course, the real reason we went this week was to see the azaleas.  Callaway has several azalea […]

Backyard photography

Cedar Waxwings

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The oak tree was full of cedar waxwings this morning. They stayed for about 10 minutes, until the brown-headed cowbirds took over the tree. I saw about 8 robins when I left work this afternoon. It’s been several weeks since I’ve seen any – I thought they were all gone by now. This migration year is really strange!

Backyard photography

Cedar Waxwings

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There were hundreds of robins and cedar waxwings by the town center this morning! Then some of them came to visit Goldy and Squirt at our house. I got to use my new flash extender – the morning was very cloudy and gross, and the only way I could get decent pictures was to use the flash. But I’m not used to seeing such reflections in the birds’ eyes.