The sharp-eyed among you will be aware that I’ve not been around for a couple of weeks. That’s because between leaving my job as Senior Countryside Officer and starting my new Ecologist position, I went back to Florida for a family reunion for my Dad’s 75th birthday, with the aim of seeing a few species of bird that I’d not seen before. Well, I should know better. My search for Burrowing Owls, Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Florida Scrub Jay was a bust. To use birding lingo, I ‘Dipped Out’… But take heart, there really is no such thing as Dipping Out in Florida. In spite of the fact that I really didn’t go off-road looking for wildlife, I saw some amazing birds in and around my brother’s apartment in Port Saint Lucie, the stunning Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando, and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Here’s a selection of the birds I saw and photographed:
So, as you can see – no Burrowing Owls. I did manage to find a burrow, but by that time it was getting pretty hot and the owls were no doubt tucked away in the shade. It was brilliant walking around Bluefield Ranch Preserve (Not jam made from wildlife – this is just what they call a nature reserve in the States) and seeing the perches that have been erected near the burrows in order to encourage the owls. Slightly disheartened, on the way up to Yeehaw Junction to meet my other brother, I saw the best bird of my life, not 20 feet from the car. I didn’t get a photo, but here’s a pic shamelessly stolen from the internet of a Crested Caracara:
Just goes to show, when one door opens, a Crested Caracara could fly in through the window. I did see lots more wildlife (of the non-avian variety): two species of anole lizards, two turtles and a lightning-fast (ergo no photo) non-native African Rainbow Lizard at my nephew’s school in Palm City.
Inverts were surprisingly thin on the ground, but I did bag a few photos of a couple of stunning butterflies, three dragonflies and a honey bee, as well as a nest of fire ants (scourge of my childhood).
Anyway, its lovely to be back in Britain – I’m really excited about spring (Technically it’s spring now – we just have to wait for seasonal lag to catch up – should take about 3-4 weeks).