Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Leisurely Florida birding: day 3

With severe weather on the way, we decided to make the best of the calm before the storm and headed down the coast to Oscar Scherer State Park, near Venice.
For me, the main point of interest at this site was the presence of Florida scrub jays - a potential tick and the only bird I was determined to make a point of seeing on this trip.
After chatting with park staff we found out the best area to look for the jays and headed off, after we'd had our lunch of course. Well, it wouldn't do to rush these things...
A small flock of chipping sparrows were feeding around the nature centre, while a couple of palm warblers flitted around in the nearby trees. Below a small bridge, a green heron was showing well as it hunted for prey.

Shortly after entering the open areas of scrub and oak, I was thrilled to spot a pair of the endemic Florida scrub jays sat up in small tree. Bingo!
We got really good looks at them, and I cursed myself for not bringing my 'scope to get some pics.
Oh well, I still got a snap of them with my little digital camera (pictured here), and to be honest a few minutes of taking pics of jays was probably not worth the effort of carting my 'scope and tripod around the several miles of trails we followed.
Another major highlight came when Satty noticed a nine-banded armadillo snuffling around in the undergrowth. We got some good looks at this bizarre animal, but it proved too shy for any decent shots to be taken.
Luckily, another armadillo in another part of the park was considerably more obliging and I managed to get the pic shown here as it dashed across the path in front of us.
Having only seen roadkill armadillos previously, I was delighted to see these curious creatures.
Among other birds seen in the park during the day were good numbers of yellow-rumped warbler and a few black-and-white warblers and blue-grey gnatcatcher, northern flicker (yellow-shafted) and red-bellied and downy woodpeckers.
A juv. red-shouldered hawk showed well, and both vulture species were a constant presence, particularly black vultures. A bald eagle, presumably one of the pair nesting in the park, passed over occasionally. We left the park at 4pm just as the rain started, and we drove back in the middle of a torrential downpour, complete with lightning and tornado warnings. What a caper!   

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