Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Bird Count: Part 1

Matt and I participated in a couple of Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) in our area this past month. The first was a new CBC that Matt participated in a trial run of last year, near Vernon, FL. We left the house EARLY and started owling our section around 5:45. We did actually hear a pair of barred owls so at least the early start was worth it! We spent the rest of the day driving around our section, wandering around the few public areas we could. Unfortunately, our section consists mainly of inaccessible private lands, which made it difficult to spend the entire day surveying. We did find a few good hot spots though, and we ended our day with 41 species and over 700 individuals (not great, I know). There were several common species missing, and we didn’t see large flocks of robins and other species as would be expected. Our species list can be viewed below.

18 turtle shells found around a cypress swamp complex
near Vernon, FL.
The most interesting findings during the Vernon bird count were actually turtle shells. Lots of them. Our section had a large cypress swamp system, but only one pond was public. We walked around the pond in the morning, hoping to scare up some cool birds. Instead, I found one very large river cooter shell and one slider shell. We chalked it up to good luck and continued birding the remainder of our section. In the early afternoon, however, we were driving on the north side of the swamp when Matt thought he spotted another turtle shell just off the road. I went in to investigate and found yet another shell before I reached the first one! Within 10 minutes, we found over 20 shells (river cooters and sliders) around the margins of the swamp. Of course, my first thought was harvesting by people, but most of the shells were intact, and there were no bullet holes either. My second theory was that we had such a cold winter last year, maybe these turtles froze under water when the water levels were higher. However, a fellow conservationist suggested that it was actually raccoon depredation as the water levels dropped. He said he has found hundreds of shells just as we described and with little to no scratch marks. This was a very disturbing thing to find, and any other theories are most welcome. I thought it was so cool when I found the first cooter shell, but by the end of the day, it was just depressing.

Great Blue Heron

Black Vulture

Wood Duck

Red-Shouldered Hawk

American Kestrel


Eurasian Collared-Dove

Barred Owl

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

White-Eyed Vireo

Blue-Headed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

Winter Wren

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Orange-Crowned Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Pine Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Red-Winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Brewer’s Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-Headed Cowbird

American Goldfinch

Look for the second CBC in Part 2, coming soon!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Critters in Action!

Great news! Fingerprince Prints now has a YouTube account. We currently have 15 videos available and there are many more to come! I never realized we had so many until I decided to open the account. A couple of my personal favorites are posted below.

Photos that have accompanying video can be found in our new Photos with Video collection; although, photos are not available for all videos.