Thursday, June 18, 2009
Fort DeSoto is an amazing site, with lovely beaches and great birding. Here there were numerous heron species on offer which were very tame, as well as various species of waders, terns and magnificant frigatebirds.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I'm starting to get the hang of the birding out here now, with my eye at least semi trained in. The drive to and fro was fantastic, with a total of six swallow tailed kites seen, several red tailed and red shouldered hawks, wild turkey, wood stork, numerous species of egrets and herons and many other species seen.
When in the Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale area, a visit to West Lake Park offered the opportunity to photograph some approachable cattle egrets, snowy egrets and white ibis. However, due to time constraints little else was seen here. Of note in the this area was the abundance of iguanas and various other inntroduced/escaped reptiles.
Great blue heron
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I've arrived safe and sound at Florida and am currently in my third day here. The place is lovely although the humidity is certainly something that takes a little getting used to. The food out here is seriously good and I can see myself putting on a few pounds out here, haha. As for the birding out here - it's seriously good. As I type I can hear a flock of chimney swifts calling outside, with the odd mourning dove singing as well as screeching blue jays.
Lettuce Lake Board-Walk
Day 1 (9th June), I payed a quick visit to Lettuce Lake Park. This is an excellent site with a boardwalk stretching 3,500 feet through forestry and marshland. It hosts numerous breeding birds such as summer tanagers, prothonotary warblers, red eyed vireos, swallow tailed kites, osprey, etc. I didn't get to spend much time here this day, as there was a fairly bad thunder storm looming. However, I did get to see a pair of swallow tailed kites, many ospreys, singing parulas and a pair of downy woodpeckers. Below is a picture of a very confiding osprey at the site.
Also that day, I paid a visit to the local dog beach which is great place for seabirds including least terns, royal terns, laughing gulls, cormorants and a number of other species including loggerhead shrike, northern mockingbird, carolina wren, etc. During this visit I came across a very approachable loggerhead shrike which spent most of its time calling and hunting from a post along the beach.
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Day 2 (10th June), I took another visit to lettuce lake park where I saw a green heron and had several singing red eyed vireos, red cardinals, parulas etc. I also saw my first wild alligator here. On the way I saw a pair of swallow tailed kites, two dark morph short tailed hawks as well as a light morph. I also took a visit to the dog beach again where I took a number of pictures of confiding birds.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Cork Harbour is the largest of it's kind in Europe, and the birding available in the area is outstanding. As well as the birding side of things, there are also a number of cetacean species available to view and enjoy within a 2o minute journey from cobh town. In the last year alone, I have personally seen minke whales, risso's dolphins, harbour pospoise, common dolphins, and of course the resident pod of bottle-nosed dolphins.
As well as cetaceans on offer, each summer it is very hard not to stumble upon basking sharks and sunfish, which reperesent the second largest fish and largest bony fish in the world, respectively! Without ever leaving the harbour, one has the opportunity to get closeup views of many common species which are usually only seen distantly through scopes. Cork Harbour offers up the opportunity to get closeup views of birds such as common, arctic and sandwich terns, three species of auks and numerous species of gull, including iceland, glaucous and mediterranean gulls.
Between August and September there is an incredible opportunity to witness immigration of mediterranean gulls, with my maximum count standing in the 40's. During this period it's possible to see double figures of juvenile med' gulls, which in my opinion look very smart upon arrival from their place(s) of birth.
By far, my most memorable day's birding took place last year, on the 13th of September. It was a flat calm, warm day. Myself and my father decided it was a perfect day for the sea, and we were by no means dissapointed. The day started out at the Irish Naval Base, located on Haulbowline island, where my father keeps the boat tied up.
On the day of this particular pelagic, we only recorded 14 med gulls in the harbour, as the peak of immigration occured earlier that year. However, it was nice to see a pair of calling med gulls fly in off the sea that day. Our goal that day was to try to intersect some of the scarcer seabirds that were being recorded from numerous headlands in earlier days, including sabine's gulls, larger shearwaters, grey phalaropes, etc. It was really quite exciting heading out in search of these birds that day, as all my previous experiences of such birds were from headlands, through my telescope in the lashing rain and driving winds! The weather this day was far from those miserable conditions. In fact, it was so far from the conditions I associate with seeing such birds, I was actually quite concerned as to wheter or not we would actually see anything of note.
Below is part of a large raft of manx sheartwater which we met on our way out of the harbour. I find this behaviour is often the case on such calm days...
After seeing how slack the birding was close to the harbour, we decided to head far offshore (or as far as a sailboat could take us). We ended up motoring 8 nautical miles offshore, where we decided to switch off the engine and let the boat drift. We had no chum with us that day, as my dad is slightly obsessed with the cleanliness of his boat (just messing dad!:P) Well, we decided to have some lunch and at least relax and observe what we could in the unusually calm conditions. I must admit my alertness in terms of birding eased right off and I just sat there eating and taking in the scenery. That was until my dad asked me "Seán ,what's that weird looking gull with the black wedges behind you called?". I shot around to look behind me and see a lovely first winter sabine's gull, hovering with curiosity, over the boat. Fantastic! The bird hung around for no more than ten seconds before continuing West.
This first winter sabine's gull was easily bird of they day for me