Backyard photography

Lawn Service

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The other night I snuck into my blind for a few minutes after I mowed the grass.  The little Palm Warblers were quick to hop out and enjoy the bugs that I stirred up with my mower.  I think they enlisted themselves to help with the yard service… The mockingbird knows that I’ve been wanting to photograph birds on the American Beautyberry bush this fall.  He knows that I keep going out after dinner and waiting for them to hop up for a berry.  He knows he’s been avoiding me during those times.  SO I was happy when he started snacking while I was in the blind.  He finally picked up a berry, held it in his beak for about five seconds, then glared at me as if to say, “Did you get that already!?”  Then he ate it.  Yep, I got it! I’d been in the blind for a while before the Painted Buntings ventured out.  A little “greenie” sat in the porterweed contemplating the jump to the feeder. The light faded quickly and I had to go in.  But not before the Palm Warblers reminded me how tiny they are.  One stood next to a blade of grass […]

Beyond the Backyard

Interesting Branch-Mates

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Defending His Turf

Yesterday I wrote about seeing my first Rufous Hummingbird and how the bird was very territorial. Well, she had competition from this mockingbird. Mockingbirds are the most territorial birds in my backyard, especially during nesting season. Yesterday this mocker had laid claim to the same firebush as the hummingbird. They ended up defending the same bush – while seated on the same branch! I wish I had gotten a picture of the two of them together. You can imagine the large mockingbird and the tiny hummer seated almost side by side. It was a case of “too much lens…” :)

Beyond the Backyard

A Quick Stop at Joe Overstreet

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Last Saturday on the way back from Blue Cypress Lake, we stopped at Joe Overstreet Road on the way back to Orlando.  It was mid-day, so I wasn’t sure there would be much bird activity, and the light wasn’t great.  But Joe Overstreet can be a good place to see Crested Caracara, Bald Eagles, and occasionally Whooping Cranes, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. We found a flock of Tree Swallows lined up on a telephone wire.  Occasionally they would all take off, fly around, and then eventually reconvene on the wire.  It can be pretty hard to photograph these tiny, fast birds.  I love to try, though.  Their bright blue iridescent feathers make for wonderful images.  This flock was a little too high, so I mostly got shots of birdie undersides.  The picture below is of a juvenile bird who has not yet gotten his bright blue feathers. The road is lined on both sides with fences, and birds often pose out on the fenceposts.  We didn’t see any many birds out this time, though.  There were just a few Eastern Meadowlarks, a few Loggerhead Shrikes, and a small flock of Savannah Sparrows.  We reached the lake […]

Backyard photography

Happy Mockingbird

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I had to do some minor repairs to the fountain in our front yard.  I drained it right before we had freezing temperatures for several nights around Christmas.  The poor cardinals are used to coming to the fountain for their nightly drinks and baths, and they found it empty!  Mr. C kept coming back to check and make sure the water wasn’t there.  The freezing weather passed, I finished my repairs, and then this mockingbird was the first birdie to inspect the newly-refilled fountain. 

Backyard photography

Happy Mockingbird

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I had a good time watching this mockingbird in the backyard a few nights ago. He was standing on the roof of the house, doing his little flap-the-wing-to-shadow-the-insects routine. Except there aren’t many insects on the roof! Every once in a while, he hopped into the crape myrtle and grabbed one of the seed pods and ate it. The light wasn’t great, but I had fun photographing him.

Backyard photography

The Photography Bug is Spreading…

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Rich went for a walk without me the other night, and wouldn’t you know that he found a baby mockingbird at the base of a tree, posing beautifully in the setting sun?  I was proud of him — he took out his iPhone and took a picture of it!  (Probably just to rub in what I missed, hehe).  So here’s his image for all to enjoy… We’ve returned to the same tree and seen the babies flitting in and out of a bush, where we’re guessing their nest is.  In just the few days since this picture was taken, the baby’s tail has grown a lot.

Backyard photography

It’s Embarrassing when You’re Missing a Tail!

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There’s a mockingbird that hangs out at the entrance to Fox Hunt a lot these days.  He has no tail!  We wondered if he lost it in a fight with one of the crows or other big birds (hint: if you see a tiny bird flying after a big bird and fussing, it’s likely that the little bird is a mockingbird!)  This little guy  seems to have balance issues when he lands — his center of gravity is totally off.  He also seems to have to compensate for balance when he goes hunting and puts out his wings to help him catch his dinner.  We hope his tail grows back soon…

Backyard photography

Mockingbird Fledglings Underfoot

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The backyard was alive tonight with calls of the mockingbird fledglings.  It’s fun to see them come out of the hedge and learn to feed themselves.  They remain quite fussy, and when this guy saw his mom fly by, he was sure was going to get a snack.  He pouted when he didn’t!  

Backyard photography

Tiny Baby Mockingbird

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On our walk tonight, a girl showed us a tiny baby mockingbird that she had found on the ground.  It had fallen from its nest.  While I was happy to have an opportunity to photograph such a young bird, I wish it had been under better circumstances. The baby mockingbird in our backyard is still fussing — a lot!  I was able to photograph him for three days in a row, but then he learned to be afraid of me.  Now I can only occasionally get a glimpse of him between the viburnum leaves.  There’s a baby in Carla’s yard, too, and they fuss to each other.  Rich has decided that mockingbird babies are indeed the most annoying birds!  

Backyard photography

From my Favorite Blind…a.k.a. my Back Window

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This weekend I spent some quality time at my favorite bird blind, my back window.  I had fun watching the birds hopping around the backyard in the evening.  I’ve been letting the wild grasses and weeds grow a bit in the rosebeds, because the Painted Buntings clearly enjoyed them.  Apparently they also promote good bugs, which the mockingbirds and cardinals were happy to gobble down…

Backyard photography

Say Hello to Stoneybrook’s Newest Resident

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Rich and I ate dinner on the porch tonight with Squirt.  The backyard was very active, pairs of Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, and Brown Thrashers hunting for worms and bugs.  We watched one mockingbird in particular as he grabbed worm after worm, then carried it repeatedly to the same spot in the viburnum.  Each time he went into the viburnum, I heard high-pitched calls, so I figured there was a baby in there.  I went out with my camera to look around, trying not to get too close.  I had just about given up on finding the nest when I looked up and there was the baby right in front of me!  He’s too young to be worried about me, so we stared at each other and I took his picture. Tonight we had to chop down our grapefruit tree.  It has slowly been succumbing to blight and it has lost most of its leaves over the past few weeks.  It’s really sad to see it go, especially after watching the birds hopping around it all winter.  We didn’t see our Painted Bunting today, either.  :(

Backyard photography

Stoneybrook Signs of Spring

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I’m getting way behind in posting backyard spring pictures!  So here’s a nice collection of the birdie goings-on around Stoneybrook West… We have a pair of Brown Thrashers who have been making an appearance each afternoon in my back rose bed.  They are quite regular.  I wonder if they may have a nest in our viburnum?  I had thought that I would trim it after the Painted Buntings leave, but I’ve had so many birds moving in and out of the bushes that I think I may have to wait until after spring nesting season is over. The American Goldfinches continue to grace us with their sweet calls and cheerful presence.  I haven’t seen a male in the past few weeks.  (Males are distinguished by their bright black heads.)  The females continue to visit our niger feeder.  Their feathers are turning brighter by the day.  It’s going to be sad when they too leave us. The House Finches are bright red and they have started to sing as they attract their mates and begin to build their nests.  They’ve learned to appreciate the Painted Bunting feeder, which has a cage surrounding it to protect the little birds from being evicted […]

Backyard photography

Mockingbirds Abound in Spring

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It’s that time of year again!  Everywhere we go in Stoneybrook West, we see mockingbirds hopping around.  It’s fun to watch the mating rituals — it’s like birdie hokey-pokey.  One hops to the left, the other hops to the right, they have this great little dance.  Now do the hokey pokey and let the nesting begin!

Beyond the Backyard

My First Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was an incredibly foggy morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I could barely make out the car in front of me as I drove in. But it turned out to be a great day for little birds. We saw a ton of warblers: Orange-Crowned, Black-and-White, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-Throated, Yellow-Rumped, Common Yellowthroat, and several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Overall I saw over 50 species, not bad for a foggy day!! Dyeyo and I arrived before sunrise, as usual, but it was clear that the fog was not going to lift quickly for pictures. So we took a side trip up to the Lost Bridge Trail, which we haven’t walked in a long time. We were curious to see which birds were there at this time of year, and if it would be a good place to take one of our Saturday photo hikes. Thirteen Wild Turkeys, two baby hogs, and the sounds of American Goldfinches were the main highlights. I don’t think the birds had woken up yet — it was still really dark from the fog. We then took the Alligator Alley trail down to the lake. As we passed the nature center eagle nest, Dyeyo joked that we should […]