Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lets Go Birding In The Rain

I was excited for my first day back at work now that it has warmed up.  At last, I would be able to walk around outside without freezing.  I wouldn't need to bundle up each time I left the office.  I could greet park visitors as they came in and interpret park resources without getting too cold to hold a conversation.  I could get outside projects done comfortably... It rained... all day... no park visitors.  So far, 2010 has been the year that Florida was NOT the Sunshine State.
It was nice to not need a hat, scarf, and mittens every time I walked outside today.  I still needed a coat because it was cool and rainy, but I really don't mind the rain much.  It just would have been better with sunshine.  When I opened the park, it was just a light rain.  I found a little Ladybug on the US flag.  More appropriately, it was a Lady Beetle as it is in the beetle family, not the true bug family.  Whatever you want to call it though, I'm sure that it was wishing that I had left the flags in the box this morning.

After I got to the office and turned on the computer, the rain let up for a little while.  There was drizzle, but I was still able to get my camera out long enough to take a picture without it being too wet.  I went for a walk and I was not the only one enjoying the break in the weather.  There were so many birds out and they didn't let me bother their activity.  I was amazed that I was able to get so close to them today before they flew away.  I still didn't manage to get many good shots of birds today, but more on that later.  I headed down to the river area after opening up the cabin.  I can really see a difference in the water level.  I'm so glad that its going down quickly.  I noticed that we had a visitor at some point.  A tree near the spring had chew marks from a Beaver.  I have seen a Beaver in the spring once or twice before, but always during a flood and they never stayed long.  This is the first time that I have found chew marks here at Troy.  It was probably just feeding on the inner bark of this tree rather than trying to cut it down.

I enjoyed the view of the river for a moment before I headed over to the spring.  As I made my way down the walkway, I was able to inch up on a couple of birds to catch their picture.  The first was a very striking male Cardinal who had been opening his mouth wide and trying to devour as many seeds from the nearby plants as possible until I came along.

He stared at me for a few moments and when he realized that he would not have any privacy for his meal, he flew off.  When I followed his flight with my eyes, I spotted another bird at the end of the path.  It was a Phoebe.  I inched a little closer, but it had far less patience with me than the Cardinal did.

When I made it to the spring dock I could see a couple of steps down to the water and the rocks in front of the dock were almost out of the water.  When the rocks are out of the water again, I will start taking Secchi Disk readings again to see when we can re-open the spring!

On my way back up the walkway, I spotted a couple of Morning Earthstar.  I have seen so many of them this year.  I have never noticed them before.  I wonder if there are more this year for some reason or if I am just noticing more things because of my photos for the blog.  If only I had been doing this for the last three years...

As I headed back to the office to do the paperwork, I followed a few more birds and was finally able to get a shot of one of the many Pine Warblers scampering around the ground in the picnic area.

When I got back to the office, I spent the rest of the morning on paperwork and e-mails.  I also transferred some of my photo files from the past couple of months to the park computer for future records.  After lunch, I headed over to Adams Tract to deliver some mail, pick up some garbage, and add more chlorine to the water treatment system.  The constant dripping of the faucets over the last freezing weeks has used up more chlorine than usual.  It was raining harder than it had been in the morning so my camera stayed in the truck.  Sorry, no photos.  After visiting with the volunteers for a little while, I headed back to Troy and checked in with my evening relief before heading home for the day.

******Special Bonus Feature******

I usually only post photos that document my job or are visually pleasing.  I am only human though.  For every nice photo that you see, there are at least three more that I would rather that no one ever saw.  Today, there were so many birds and so many bad photos.  I wanted to share all of the birds with you, but some of them just would not cooperate.  Today, I will share with you Rangervision Outtakes:
These two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were not in the right light.  Can you even find the second one?

This is a Black-and-white Warbler....'s rear end.
"I can't see you, you can't see me.  Just stay very still, she'll go away."
A dark and blurry Downy Woodpecker.
Last but not least, a smudge of a Pine Warbler.

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