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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Disney World here we come

Nemo at Epcot
          Sharon and I made time for a week long excursion to Florida so we could be with our son, daughter-in-law and grandson Max from California. We spent four days at Disney World and two days in Tampa. Birding was not a priority but we did on occasion look skyward. We stayed in Winter Haven, about twenty minutes from Disney. The condo units were located near brushy fields and there were lots of lakes and ponds in the area.
           On our travels to and from Disney we did manage to find some interesting birds like Common Ground-Doves and Common Gallinules. Everyday we saw several groups of Sandhill Cranes some of which were just strolling around people's backyards.
Greater Sandhill Crane
           My favorite bird during our commutes had to be the Swallow-tailed Kites that were soaring around, sometimes in large groups of seven or eight at a time. I even watched them soaring while in the pool.
Swallow-tailed Kite
           While traipsing around inside the Disney parks, we also managed to find birds. There were cormorants on the lakes, Fish Crows, Boat-tailed Grackles, Common Nighthawks and Anhingas overhead and even White Ibis scavenging around.
White Ibis on the prowl
          But the most exciting bird of our visit happened a little after midnight in Tomorrowland. We were trudging along between rides when I noticed a large object flying between the buildings. I got on the object and watched it land on the roof of a nearby building. It turned out to be a Barred Owl.
Barred Owl sitting on roof in Disney World
           After spending four days in Disney we headed west to the Tampa area where we stayed at MacDill Air Force Base. Birding the base was fun but not a whole lot to see. We did get Roseate Spoonbills, Black and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Tri-colored, Green, Little and Great Blue Herons and all the egrets including Reddish. 
Immature Black-crowned Night-Heron

Roseate Spoonbill

American Oystercatcher
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Heron Rookery in the middle of suburbia
           We than took a ride to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and stopped for a swim in Indian Shores below Clearwater, FL.
Sharon, Chris and Max 
           Of course while they were swimming I was looking for my avian friends. I found quite a few and the Magnificent Frigatebirds topped my list of favorites. 

Magnificent Frigatebird


        Other species observed were Snowy Egret feeding in the surf, Brown Pelicans overhead and lots of terns and a colony on Black Skimmers.
Black Skimmer Colony

What species of terns are these two photos?

Snowy Egret feeding in salt water surf
Skimmer and Terns at Indian Shores Lighthouse
One more Quiz Bird-Answers below
Another friend we found all over Florida

Sunset at MacDill AFB
          So we say our final farewell to Florida and it's wildlife and hope to return soon. I finished the trip with only 60 species but that's not bad for the habitat that we were visiting.

Answers to photo quiz:
Sandwich Tern
Royal Terns
Gray Kingbird

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