Friday, January 1, 2016

What Paulie Missed

I'm down in Florida visiting the old folks this week. I dragged Connie down here with promises of mending her broken ankle poolside rather than home. 2 days drive with Peanut in the back seat and 3 days of visiting.

My mother was very anxious to take Peanut to the new dog park that Dave found near their house. The park has a "nature park" attached to it too. Dave borrowed a golf cart for me, Connie and Peanut to bomb around in. Here is Peanut on her first ride.

Golf Cart Ride
We went. Peanut was just OK with the dog park but the nature park was a hit. Late afternoon was a good time to visit. Close up views of Grackles - you can see the purple iridescence when the Florida sun hits them just right.

Grackle
This female Merganser was showing off her 'doo in the pond. No males were there, so I'm not sure why she was so interested in showing off.

Female Hooded Merganser
The star of the show had to be 2 Meadowlarks in the grass at the park. They let me get really close while they hunted for bugs. This one cranked out the famous musical song right in front of me. Wow.
Meadowlark
The pond was full of birds including American White Pelicans, Wood Storks, Egrets and Cormorants. The Pelican is in flight.
American White Pelican with Storks
Paul and Linda are my mother's neighbors. A very nice couple from New Jersey who we see each time we visit. Paulie (as we call him) sent me a newspaper article from the local Villages paper about New Year's Day birding. He wanted to go along. We never made a plan so I knocked on their door New Year's Eve - no answer. I went by the house New Year's Day - no answer. Oh well, I went birding alone (frankly, it was a joy to be by myself for an hour). Here is what Paulie missed:
First bird of 2016 - Eurasian Collared Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
 Loggerhead Shrike calling from a tree along one of the many golf courses near the house.

Loggerhead Shrike
 A gang of Ibis (or is that Ibi ? ) hunting the golf course edge.

White Ibis
Best bird of the day - this American Bittern in the marsh.

American Bittern
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers love Florida. They are in every other tree along with Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
This Osprey was poised to fish in the mist of the morning. Connie saw him/her catch a fish later in the day.

Osprey
The Villages are known for having very tame Sandhill Cranes that walk around the golf courses. They are so tame that the golfers have to shoo them off of the putting greens. They don't even move when a ball plops down near them. As tame as they are, they didn't like Peanut. Here are 3 of them squawking in unison as we walked past them.

Sandhill Cranes - upset with Peanut
Once Peanut was in the car, the alert was over and the Cranes allowed more photos. Clam as cucumbers.

Sandhill Cranes
All in all, day one of 2016 was a hit. Easy birding racked up 38 species plus I got to swim and a home made pork and sauerkraut dinner.  Too bad for Paulie. I hope he gets out birding soon.

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