Monday, February 25, 2013
The day was a bit gray and overcast, but five of us turned out for our scheduled field trip to Princess Place Preserve on February 25. Rain threatened but never came down, and and it made the weather just about perfect! Not too hot, nor was it too cool. Just a nice day for a bird walk in a spectacular setting on the banks of Pellicer Creek.
After scanning the waters from the porch of the rustic lodge, at the confluence of Pellicer Creek and the Matanzas River, we took a hike along the shores of the creek. We heard titmice galore, and woodpeckers, and loud calling yellow-throated warblers who remained elusively out of sight. And in the waters we got glimpses of heron and gulls, high-flying tree swallows, and the hooded merganser above.
On the far shores of the creek we even spotted a perched bald eagle, and this eagle's nest.
But it was along the Loop Road that we stopped when we came to this sign, to look for the eagle's nest being monitored by volunteers, which we knew had young.
In another year or two the pines in the foreground may grow up high enough to block views of the nest, but it hasn't happened quite yet, and with our binoculars we were able to pick up the massive nest, and with the scope were even able to see a young eaglet in the nest.
One of the parents was perched, on guard, nearby, looking headless with its white head blending into the background of the sky, and a branch crossing in front of its face.
From Loop Road it was on to a fishing pier past the canoe and kayak launch site, where we were just about as amused by the antics of the fiddler crabs as we were by the sight and sound of the birds.
We saw ospreys and vultures soaring overhead, but also this immature eagle. One of the young from a prior year at this nesting site?
At times it seemed like the birds were hiding themselves from us pretty well, but in all we saw or heard 35 different species. And for those who attended the walk, if I've missed any let me know! But this is the list of the species for the day:
Little Blue Heron
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
It was a beautiful sunny day today, and four of us turned out for the Neighborhood Nature Walk in the vicinity of the St. Augustine Lighthouse on Anastasia Island. We met at the boat ramp parking lot, and looked around the lot for a bit while we waited to see if anyone else might arrive. This mockingbird in a far tree caught out attention for a while, as its coloring looked very unusual in the light that we saw it in, and we were guessing all sorts of birds until we got close enough, and at the right angle, to see that it was just one of our mockingbirds!
After that excitement we went out onto the pier to look for wading birds, gulls, water birds, and other denizens of the shorelines and waters.
We saw many of our coastal denizens, including royal terns, laughing gulls, ring-billed gulls, brown pelicans, cormorants.
This little spotted sandpiper was probably our most interesting bird of the day. We had a great day, but their were no remarkable rarities among our day's count.
However I still get a thrill when I see a regal-looking osprey come in for a landing above me, staring down at the world below with a haughty air.
After that we looked we walked through the local neighborhood where the houses themselves were at least as interesting and diverse as the bird species found in the area, just as varied in color and shape, all with their own quirks, such as the ship's figurehead on this one. In the end we counted 27 species of birds on our list for the morning, these being the ones we counted:
Great Black-backed Gull
We hope more of you can join us on our next scheduled outing to Princess Place on February 24!
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse neighborhood
When: Tuesday, February 12
Time: 9 AM to 11 AM
Meet: Boat ramp parking lot
Join us this coming Tuesday for our first Neighborhood Nature Walk of the season. A neighborhood nature walk is shorter than a field trip, and takes us to more local spots that are great places to look for birds. Our walk this coming Tuesday will take us to the neighborhood around the St. Augustine Lighthouse on Anastasia Island.
We associate the old St. Augustine Lighthouse with history, but the surrounding neighborhood is also a very special place for a pleasant nature walk. We'll meet at the big boat ramp parking lot and scan the river for long-legged waders, shorebirds, ducks, and more. Then, we'll stroll through the old streets to look for woodpeckers, hawks, native plants and anything else of interest. This walk is always a favorite.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
2013 is the 15th season for the Great Backyard Bird Count, co-sponsored by the national Audubon Society. Anyone can participate. From a long trek to through the woods to 5 minutes watching the birds in your yard, or in a park. This year, locally, the Anastasia branch of the St. Johns County library system is presenting a whole bunch of opportunities for local folks to learn about birding.
Come to the library on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 2 PM, to hear Monique Borboen, Northeast Florida Policy Associate for the Audubon Society, present a program on how to identify birds in our community and how we can be stewards of the natural environment.
The following weekend we will have bird guides at various locations throughout the county to help folks look for and identify birds. See the library for details on when and where to find a guide.
The library is also sponsoring a birdhouse decorating contests. The birdhouses will be on display at the library for a week or so beginning Feb. 9. The larger one above will be in the contest representing the St. Johns Audubon Society. Come out and vote for our birdhouse! It will be one more small way we can help people understand some of the things we do.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Please note, the date for our scheduled field trip to Princess Place Preserve has been changed! Instead of going this Sunday, February 3, we are going on Sunday, February 24. All other details remain the same, which you can see at the previous blog entry, modified to reflect the new information.
This is better for me! I am out of town this Sunday, but should be here on Sunday the 24th. Princess Place is totally awesome, and I can't wait to get back there again. Hope to see you there!