Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Northeast and Central Florida

Yellow-throated Warbler

On our last day on Jekyll Island we visited the banding station (JIBS) on the south side of the island where warblers were migrating south and getting caught in the mist nets.  Hundreds of birds had been banded here in the last month.

Isopods at Jekyll Island ( over 1 inch long)

Tree Swallows migrating

We then drove to the Okefenokee Swamp NWR where pine forests are being managed for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.  We found three of these elusive birds along with Brown-headed Nuthatches and Bachman's Sparrows.  We stayed near Callahan Florida for the night then drove to the coast.
Fishing Spider - Okefenokee 

Carolina Wren - North Beach

We found a nice RV Park at North Beach near St. Augustine.  Walking the beautiful white sand beaches scattered with Willets, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones.
Armadillo at North Beach RV Park

Ruddy Turnstone (winter plumage)


Bold Jumping Spider

We then spent a couple days at Anastasia State Park.  The large sand dune peninsula is sanctuary to Wilson's Plovers, Am Oystercatchers, Red Knots, Piping Plovers and other shorebirds and waders.
Cooper's Hawk

Clapper Rail

In between the dunes and the barrier island is a salt water marsh with Clapper Rails and Seaside Sparrows.
Wilson's Plover

We drove south to the "Space Coast" and the Canaveral National Seashore walking some of trails and driving the northern beach area.  Lots of Osprey fishing, Roseate Spoonbill and Egrets, with both species of Pelicans flying over the inlet.  We stopped for this large gopher tortoise slowly crossing the road.
Large Baby Manatee

Florida Scrub Jay

We drove to the Merritt Island NWR and found at least 20 Manatees at Haul Over Canal viewing area including this baby.  We found four Florida Scrub Jays near the entrance to the National Seashore's south end.
We stayed near Titusville for a couple days and enjoyed the pool in these summer-like days.
Great Egret ballet

Cattle Egret

Spent one more day on the coast at Melbourne Beach where we watched a Northern Gannet migrate by at a distance.  Lots of Osprey and Brown Pelicans catching fish in the breaking waves.  Doing much better than the people trying to do the same.

Shorebirds, gulls, and terns plus many Ghost Crabs were finding food with the incoming tide.
Snail Kite

Limpkin with Apple Snail

We headed west to Central Florida looking for more of the bird specialties.  We saw Crested Caracaras in the open prairies.  We stopped at Kaliga Park in St. Cloud and felt blessed to see several Snail Kites and Limpkins both  feeding on large Apple Snails.  We then drove to the larger Lake Tohopikaliga in Kissimmee where there were more Kites, Limpkins, Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.
Roseate Spoonbill

We drove to the Merry D RV Park to spend the weekend.   We walked the boardwalk of nearby Environmental Center at Reedy Creek Swamp where our best find was a mother alligator watching over her 11 tiny babies.  They were less than a foot long, colorfully striped and crying out when losing sight of mom.
Baby Alligator

We are now heading to Southern Florida for the next 3 and a half weeks until we settle into Port St. Lucie for two months.

Best regards to all.
Love & Prayers,  Ida & Ty

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Autumn from Michigan to Georgia

Autumn colors lined the roads as we traveled north from Wisconsin into Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Our first stop was Seney National Wildlife Refuge where families of Trumpeter Swans dotted the waterways in white.

We spent the night at Grand Marias on Lake Superior.  We went to Whitefish Point and spent the day birding with Bill & Sarah Krouse who were vacationing here from Green Bay.

Thousands of White-crowded Sparrows, Juncos, Thrushes, Kinglets, Am. Pipits, and warblers were migrating through from Canada.

We drove south through Lower Michigan and into Ohio in heavy rain and even a few snow flurries.  It stopped long enough for us to tour the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary near Battle Creek, MI.  This is the place from which the first Giant Canada Geese came to Green Bay in the 1930's.  Note the white forehead patch that identifies the Giant subspecies.

Into the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio and the tree covered mountains of West Virginia.  We stayed at Pipestem Mountain RV Park where new birds were Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and Mockingbirds.
Great Egret at Bogue Intet

We moved through the narrow part of Virginia and into North Carolina.  We were doing well following the advance of colored leaves and bird migration.  We headed to the coast just south of the Outer Banks and found our first Laughing Gulls, Fish Crows and Boat-tailed Grackles.

On October 7th was the beautiful full moon and early the next morning was the total eclipse.  Thankfully we were blessed with a clear night sky.
Greater Black-backed Gull

We stayed along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina and found some interesting finds near Ft. Macon National Monument.
Ghost Crab at Fort Macon

Gulf Fritillary 

Red-spotted Purple

Crystal Coast NC on the Atlantic

Eastern Bluebird

We were feeling the record heat and humidity along the coast as we traveled down through South Carolina and into Georgia.

We are now camped on Jekyll Island State Park for a few days and the front that moved across the country with severe weather only brought us some rain and lower humidity as the skies cleared.
Doily Spider

Golden Silk Orbweaver

Painted Bunting on Jekyll Island

Fisherman's unwanted catch, active Crab

On the road again soon through the beautiful Live Oaks hanging with Spanish Moss and looking forward to Florida birding.

As always, love and prayers,
Ida & Ty Baumann