April 2013

Monthly Archive

March 2013 Peacock’s Pocket Field Trip

Posted by on 11 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding

Lesser YellowlegsWe first stopped on state road 3 for a good look at a Great Horned Owl and two chicks, then stopped just past the Pine Flatwoods Trail to look for the Red-breasted Nuthatches. The Nuthatches were not to be heard or seen but we were pleased to find that the Scrub Jays are moving in there as well as the Pine Flatwoods Trail area about ½ mile north. We next checked the Oak Hammock Trail for warblers and did find Black-and white and Northern Parula, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo and a  Northern Flicker. At the Visitor Center we saw 5 green and one male Painted Buntings.

Along Peacock Pocket road there was a good variety of shorebirds and ducks including Black-necked Still, American Avocet, Dunlin, Long and Short-billed Dowitcher, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler and large rafts of Lesser Scaup. While exiting on West Gator Creek road we found a nice group of Marbled Godwit.  We stopped for lunch at the 406 bridge and added Common Loon and overall listed 86 species for the trip.

Click here to see a slide show of some of the birds we saw.  Read on to see the list.

Dick & Gail

Orlando Wetlands Park field trip

Posted by on 11 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding

2013mar_owp-8A few early birders enjoyed a beautiful spring morning at the Orlando Wetlands Park. The volunteer operated tram was running so we all took turns riding to the outer trail where the Vermillion Flycatcher had been seen. The flycatcher was not to be found but we did get great looks at several Purple Gallinule as well as Crested Caracara, Barred Owl and several Black-crowned Night-Heron. Following an early lunch, we decided to try our luck at Hatbill Park at the end of Hatbill road. Michael Brothers had previously reported a good variety of birds along the St Johns during a recent kayak trip and following Michaels tips are often fruitful. We did see a few birds and noted that the river was very low. We then made a stop at Shilo on the way home. Found a good variety of shorebirds and ducks and even a Killdeer nest on the dike road just past the parking lot.

Saw 71 species overall for the trip so really a very nice day.

Click here for a slide show of  pictures from the day.  Look below for a list of the species we saw.

Dick & Gail   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 22 + 1

Posted by on 06 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Beth_operation_nairobi_arpt?We’re home!  What a great trip!

We agreed to have the taxi driver who took us to the Ole-Sereni Hotel, in Nairobi, come back to pick us up at 7:00 PM.  That seemed early for an 11:15 flight but his concern was traffic jams.  They are frequent and sometimes horrendous in Nairobi and completely unpredictable.   At 6:30 we paid our lounge bill and went down to the lobby to recover and organize our luggage.  To our surprise, our cabbie was sitting in the lobby waiting for us.  We loaded and were off to the airport. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 22

Posted by on 06 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

day22_kigali_motor_taxiThis is our last day in Africa.  We are on our way home.  We left The Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali at 7:00 this morning to catch Kenya Airways Flight 448 to Nairobi.  The flight across was uneventful except for almost colliding with a pair of Black Kites shortly after takeoff.  They were only about 20 to 30 feet above the engine.

We are currently sitting on the deck at the Ole Sereni  Hotel overlooking a water hole at the edge of Nairobi National Park.  Since it is the heat of the day, there is no activity but we hope to see one more something before we leave at dusk tonight.  We fly out together to Heathrow at 11:00 tonight.  I will send out this note before we leave as neither Kenyatta Airport here in Nairobi or Heathrow in London have readily accessible wi-fi service.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 21

Posted by on 03 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

monkeyshinesThis morning the rain that we had last evening has stopped, although it is overcast.  We again got up early, ate breakfast and headed for the Ranger Station.  There we were treated to another round of great traditional dancing; same group as yesterday but with some different players.

Today we were going to see Golden Monkeys.  This species has just been available for gawking for 6 or 8 years.  Like the gorillas, the Dian Fossey people are very involved with their management. We were told several times that the walk would be much easier than yesterday’s.  While we were being divided into groups, we encountered both our guides from yesterday and exchanged greetings with them.  Beth said to Callixte, “Are you going to be our guide again today?”  He replied, “I am not scheduled but since you have requested me, I now can.”  What a deal, we again have a guide who will look after Beth like she is a crippled queen.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 20

Posted by on 02 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

gorilla_home_rwandaToday WE SAW GORILLAS!  We both have a couple of bruises from falls and stings from nettles but who cares, WE SAW MOUNTAIN GORILLAS!

We were up by 5:30 this morning, ate breakfast and were on the road by 6:15.  It had rained yesterday but the sky was clear and the sun shining this morning.  It was about a fifteen minute drive to the Park Ranger Station and we joined a milling horde of 85 hopeful gorilla-watchers.  About 7:00 a group of traditional dancers appeared.  What a show!  They danced high energy and high decibel numbers for half an hour and they were terrific.  This is part of the plan to involve local communities in the tourism business.  The entertainment and other community participation plans have reduced poaching in the Rwanda section to nearly zero and the gorilla population is slowly increasing.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 19

Posted by on 02 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

sunset_besolke_rwanda2We were up at 5:00AM and on the road at 5:54.  We only had about 175 miles to go and plane time to Kigali was 3:30 PM, check in 1:30, but we were all apprehensive.  We remembered the road in and it had rained a foot or so since then.  We were going out a different route which Mungai said would be better but we still worried.

We drove south to near the Tanzanian border then east to the East gate of the park.  The road was generally fair and at times we got up to 35 mph, which on this road was flying.  We made the 25 miles to the park gate in just under an hour and a quarter.  The western slope of the mountains had much more rain overnight than we did farther west on the plain. The rivers were roaring and one looked to be about ten minutes from running over the bridge.  In spite of the water we covered the next section easily, as it was much better than expected and reached the main east-west highway in another hour and a half.    We climbed the Rift Mountain Range and travelled along the top in dense fog but still made decent time.  The high point on the road was a place called Black Spot at 7000 feet.  As we dropped into the Rift Valley the fog lifted but they had also had heavy rain and mud had washed across the road in one spot.  However, we felt so good about our time that we stopped just before turning south again and ate our picnic breakfast at covered tables.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 18

Posted by on 02 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

fyock_tanzania_kenyaIt poured all night, very heavy at times, less heavy at others, but never stopped.  This morning the Wara River has risen 3 feet.  Everything is drenched but the Mara and Serengeti Plains are amazing.  The rains started the morning we arrived.  When we got here, everything was brown; the animals were grey, dusty or brown.  By this morning the countryside looks green and fresh.  The zebras are a bright white and black, the giraffes and Topi look clean and shiny, the elephants seem to glisten but the Warthogs still look like Warthogs.  The beginning of the rains is the signal for birds to begin breeding and the road is apparently the easiest place to locate a mate.  We saw dozens of larks, long-claws and plovers on the road, singly, in pairs or in groups, all in full breeding plumage.  A great show!  Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 17

Posted by on 02 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

ballon_shadow_mara2Our day started at 4:30 AM when our wake-up call knocked on the door.  We were up, dressed and packed and had our bags at reception shortly after 5:00.  Our ride to take us to another camp and then on to the balloon launch site was there at 5:15.

We took off just after 6:00 AM and flew due west for an hour and twenty minutes.  We rose to about 2500 feet above the ground then coasted down and flew most of the trip 500 to 1000 feet above the ground.  We saw the sun rise over the Rift Mountains; a family of giraffes; two lionesses cooperating to set up a hunt with two hyenas, a first for everyone; a cheetah climb onto the roof of a safari vehicle; two hippos still out of the water even after dawn; a hyena heading home for the day, completely ignoring  the Secretary Bird a short distance away, although the disinterest did not appear to be mutual; and finally a couple of dozen elephants, hundreds maybe thousands of gazelles, a few hundred Topi, water buffalo, wildebeests and zebras and impalas one pair of Black-backed Jackals.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 16

Posted by on 02 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

day16_female_leopardToday was a WOW! day.  We left the Mara Leisure Camp, on a morning game drive, just before 7:30 AM.  We had 3 new bird species by the end of the first mile.  We decided to go back to the same area we were in yesterday to see if the lion pride had made a kill overnight.  There was no sign of the lions and the zebras and gazelle were still grazing in the same spot so the hunt must have been delayed or scrubbed.

We drove around for some time seeing several very neat animals, albeit ones we had seen before and adding plovers and larks to our bird list.  Finally, just before 10:00 we headed back toward camp.  We met another safari vehicle and, as is customary, the drivers stopped to exchange information.  The other driver was quite animated and soon left with a roar.  Mungai, turned the car around and said, “I am going to drive very fast for awhile.  Hang on!”  And we were off!   Continue Reading »