Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas on the Treasure Coast

We've been settled into the Port Saint Lucie RV Park for 3 weeks now; other than the local decorations it certainly doesn't feel like Christmas or winter.  Sunny, warm days, times at the pool, and birding trips to area natural areas.

The best part about being in PSL is being near Ty's brother Daryl and his wife Vicki.  Spending time visiting, working, eating together and going to church and Bible studies has been fun.  We look forward to another 6 weeks here in the area until their mission trip to Haiti with New Hope Missions Intl. that they help administer.
Alligator in almost every pond

Almost daily we walk to Wood Stork Trail and Lake just north of the RV Park.  Seems like there is something new to see everyday.  Here's a small example.
Mottled Ducks


Ox Beetle

Pileated Woodpecker

This Sandhill Crane along with two others landed right in the RV Park and took a walk around the sites.
Eastern Towhee

Just northeast of PSL is the Savannah State Park where we walked the trails and went through the Nature Center.  Here are some finds from our exploration.
Pine Warbler

Grass-leaf Golden Aster

Great Blue Heron takes off

Eastern Meadowlark

We drove about 30 miles southwest of PSL to the Allapattah Flats.  While walking the trails we saw northern migrants such as this Eastern Meadowlark and flocks of American Robins.

There were many wading birds in the area such as the Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks.
Roseate Spoonbill & Wood Stork

Peregrine Falcon

We took two trips to Ft. Pierce and Hutchinson Island enjoying the Atlantic Ocean beaches.  While sitting at the beach we observed many Magnificent Frigatebirds and Northern Gannets and we even saw some Cory's Shearwaters.
Magnificent Frigatebird

Sometimes the birds just come to you; all I had to do was bring out a bag of cookies and 30+ Ruddy Turnstones immediately arrived hoping for a crumb or two.  This was on the Ft. Pierce South Jetty where many people also come to fish.  There were several Manatees feeding close by.

At the river mouth is a great place to bird.  Brown Pelicans, Black Skimmers, gulls and terns and over 20 Ospreys found abundant fish as the tide rolled in.
Christmas Berry (Dahoon)

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful New Year.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Birding Southeast Florida

Rainbow over the Everglades

We left the wilderness of the Everglades to the traffic laden roads of southeast Florida from Miami to West Palm Beach.  The thing is there are lots of "city" birds that are only found among the sky-scraping hotels and intermittent green spaces.
Tree Frogs seem to love campsite electrical boxes

White-crowned Pigeons in Poisonwood Tree

Close up Great Egret

Bronzed Cowbird


  We stopped at Kendall and found the Red-whiskered Bulbuls (camera shy - no photos).
We also found 6 species of parakeets in varies places along the route.

We found Bronzed Cowbirds and Common Mynas in their preferred habitat - Restaurant parking lots.
Common Myna

Brown-crested Flycatcher

With some help from some local birders, we found the sought after Brown-crested Flycatcher at A.D. Barnes Park in Coral Gables.  There was also a late Summer Tanager and many warblers scattered along the park trails.

Summer Tanager

Earth Boring Dung Beetle

     With lots of busy activities in the area, such as the Nascar Speedway Race, the Miami Dolphins game and the college football Noles/Canes game we decided to head north.  We arrived at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge just as the gate opened at sunrise.  Limpkins were calling and did a few fly-bys.

Am. Bittern tries to hide

We then went to Green Cay Water Management Area where boardwalks take you over a couple miles of prime habitat for all kinds of wildlife.
Apple Snail eggs

Banded Watersnake

Bobcat Kitten

Fern Sporangia

Green Heron

Just east a few miles near Boynton Beach area is another great boardwalk at Wakodahatchee Wildlife Area which yielded more interesting sightings.
Purple Swamphen

Tricolored Heron

Dragon-sized Iguana

Showing off his colors

We then spent 4 days at Jonathan Dickinson State Park among the managed Scrub habitat. The perfect place for the Florida Scrub Jay.  This one is inspecting all the bling.

The other end of the park is Pine Forest where we found the hiding Bachman's Sparrow - also camera shy.  But a very cooperative Loggerhead Shrike kept posing in between finding worms to eat.

We are now at the Treasure Coast and Port St. Lucie wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida

Friday, November 14, 2014

South Florida Adventures

On the south end of Lake Okeechobee is a great quiet place to spend a few days.  We camped at South Bay and walked the high dike morning and evening finding plenty of birds: herons and egrets flew in and out each day; eagles, Fish Crows, rails, Purple Gallinules and Purple Swamphens.
Fish Crow and young Bald Eagle sound off

Halloween Pennant

Along the campground were many butterflies and dragonflies, alligators sunned themselves along the edge of the ponds.  We even saw a Manatee swimming up the canal.
Julia Heliconian

Zebra Longwings

Crested Caracara

We took a day trip south through the Seminole Reservation and the north end of the Everglades wilderness area.  We found Crested Caracaras, Am. Kestrels, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, 8 species of shorebirds on a roadside flooded field and flocks of blackbirds where we found the rare Shiny Cowbird.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

American Kestrel

White Peacock

Eastern Amberwing

We walked along the dike and added Black-bellied Whistling Ducks to our growing year list which know stands at 558.

The area fields are growing sugar cane and the smoke from the burning of the cane plus the fog made for some magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

A nice surprise was that Ty's brother Daryl and wife Vicki drove over to spend the day from Port St. Lucie.  We are looking forward to spending two months this winter near them.

We spent a week at Miami Everglades RV Park, enjoying the local birding and the nice swimming pool.  This area is surrounded by agricultural fields including bananas.  We found the blossom and small growing fruit fascinating.
Monk Parakeet

White-eyed Parakeet

We drove into South Miami and Kendal looking for exotic birds that have come to make South Florida their home.  We found four species of Parakeets: Monk, Red-Masked, Yellow-Chevroned, and White-Eyed.  We wish these birds didn't like city life as the traffic and parking is terrible

We ventured east to Biscayne Bay National Park where over 90% protects underwater habitat.  The clear water gave nice views of colorful tropical fish like the Needlefish above.

We then headed south to Everglades National Park which they call the "river of grass".  The highest point is the road and hammocks that are 4 feet above sea level.
Red-shouldered Hawk at Flamingo Campground

We saw 102 species of birds making it worth the trip, even getting bitten by all the mosquitoes and gnats.

We took a boat trip out into Florida Bay finding all the egrets and herons including the Great White Heron.  We also found a lone Magnificent Frigatebird  flying along the shore toward Key West.
American Crocodile 

The many Black Vultures along Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm were trying to cover the sign changing illegal to legal to feed them.  We diligently covered the windows and mirrors of the RV as these guys love to chew up rubber gaskets and windshield wipers.
The handsome Black Vulture

Tricolored Heron

White Ibis and Wood Stork

Great White Heron

Purple Gallinule

Short-tailed Hawk at the Everglades

We are back in the Miami area at the Larry & Penny Thompson County Park for two days before heading north to Loxahatchee and Port St. Lucie.

We pray everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!!
Ty & Ida Baumann