I was in the mood for a road trip but didn’t want to go anywhere that I would have to walk far. I headed down to a small Audubon preserve about an hour south of Tampa. There’s a small preserve run by the Audubon Society that has feeders set up with a blind in the middle of a neighborhood (mostly horse farms and small cow pastures). It was 40 degrees when I got there early in the morning in late December. No one else was around. I got to the blind and sat for a few minutes thinking “Is it too cold for the birds?”. I walked around the small preserve for a while and when I came back to the blind a half hour later I just sat on the bench. I was about to give up when a saw a flash of color head to the feeders. Several male painted buntings and young blue buntings started coming to feeder. One was sitting on an empty feeder waiting his turn at the full feeder. I think this is the most painted buntings I’ve seen in one place. I ended up spending an hour watching these beautiful birds in the quiet.
Walking out of the preserve, I noticed this tree had turned bright orange. Yes, fall was starting to hit in late December.
Female indigo buntings don’t have any blue at all.
Scarlet tanagers have black wings.
A rare western kingbird.
A painted bunting foraging for food on the ground.
We had great fall out the 3rd weekend in April for migrating birds. After a storm on Friday afternoon, I headed out to Fort Desoto park to see if any of the spring migrating birds had stopped by for a rest. Everyone else had the same idea. Even though there were a ton of people at the park there were lots of birds as well. It’s always fun running into old friends at the park in the spring and having more eyes to spot birds.This was the busiest weekend this spring and I spent most of the day there with lots more pictures to come.
An immature male orchard oriole. He’ll turn a burnt dark orange after his next molt.
Above are female orchard orioles.
A rare Kentucky warbler.
An immature blue indigo looking back at me.
Fort Desoto Park in south Pinellas county is known as a hot spot for birds migrating through in the spring and fall. The birds seem to be more plentiful in spring vs. fall migration. All of the above were seen in a 2 hour period in mid-April. Just standing quietly in the bushes watching them fly in and eat the mulberries with 20 or so other people. All with our long lenses and binoculars. I was using my 300mm lens with a 1.4 extender to zoom in. These are also cropped up so we were all pretty far away.
Lots of cute little birds around the nature center in mid February: palm wabler, blue gray gnatcatcher, female indigo bunting and several female painted buntings.
Of the course everyone wants the shot of the male painted bunting. We knew there was at least one there but after searching over an hour, I was about to give up when this guy above stopped for a second before taking off again. I snapped this quickly before he was gone only to get a blurry shot.
I had heard there were painted buntings at Circle B Bar Reserve in early November. I hadn’t seen one in years so I headed out hoping to see one. I walked halfway down the trail and saw a flash of color fly into the bushes. I could barely see him hiding. I snapped the above in case that was the only sighting I would get.
Farther down the trail, several people were taking pictures of this guy. He was eating close to the trail but we had to shoot directly into the sun.
A few minutes later, he moved outside of the bush but was still directly into the sun.
I continued on and saw this guy fly into the bottom of a bush. He was very accommodating and posed nicely but didn’t stay long. Only for a few seconds.
A scarlet tanager looking at me. Maybe he thinks I’m after his berry.
A summer tanager with a bug hanging out of his beak.
Another scarlet tanager with a beak full.
A female and male painted bunting.
He has mulberry juice on his beak.
She’s got mulberry pieces hanging out of her mouth.
These birds were chowing down.
Another tanager posing.
So many pretty birds at Fort Desoto during spring migration. The mulberry trees were full and the birds were hungry. We all just stood in a line and quietly watched them eat. The big prize of the day was the painted buntings.There were several at the park that morning. This is the first decent picture I’ve gotten of one. I also took a ton of blue birds More on those later.