Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Loggerhead Shrike

John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge
Jacksonville, FL
I recently spent a few days in Jacksonville, FL for a conference. The conference was taking place right on the river in downtown, so I wasn't expecting to see much for wildlife. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of loggerhead shrikes had made their home in the trees along the trail by the river. I observed the pair with a begging fledgeling one afternoon, and was sad I didn't have my camera because the pair didn't seem to care how close I was to them or their baby. I decided to go back to the area the next morning with my camera, hoping to just get a few shots of these fascinating birds. Now, before I continue, I should explain that shrikes are often referred to as butcher birds because they are known for catching their prey (lizards, bugs, etc.) and then impaling it on sticks, or more commonly today, barbed-wire fences; then they proceed to eat their meal. They use this technique because they do not have the large feet and talons like other birds of prey, so they find other ways to hold their food in place.

Fledgeling loggerhead shrike
So, I was following the pair and fledgeling around, trying to get a good view and therefore a good photo. Then, one of the parents brings the begging baby a brown anole (an invasive species that is very abundant in Florida). The fledgeling takes the lizard from the adult and proceeds to take it down to the dead branches below (only 15-20 feet away from me at this point). It then starts to practice its impaling technique on several of the branches! I was able to get some decent photos, but it's even better in video! After the fledgeling was done with its meal, the adult came back with another lizard, but this time it just ate it whole. Apparently it was too much work the first time around.

The brown anole after the fledgeling was finished.
Not sure why it didn't eat it all.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Apalachee Audubon Field Trip: Joe Budd WMA & Lake Talquin State Forest

Bird List (in order of observation):
Red-shouldered Hawk
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Parula
Northern Cardinal
Pine Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Mourning Dove
Tufted Titmouse
Northern Mockingbird
 Brown-headed Cowbird
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Towhee
Indigo Bunting
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
White-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Eastern Kingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Carolina Chickadee
 Blue Jay
Blue Grosbeak
Eastern Bluebird
Great-crested Flycatcher
Northern Bobwhite
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Summer Tanager
Hooded Warbler
Acadian Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo??
 Carolina Wren
Broad-winged Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Turkey Vulture
Common Grackle
Great-blue Heron
Red-winged Blackbird
Least Tern
 Fish Crow
Ring-billed Gull?
Double-crested Cormorant
Prothonotary Warbler

Species List: 43

Herp List:
Squirrel Treefrog
Yellow-bellied Slider
River Cooter
American Alligator

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bankhead National Forest (May 10-12, 2013)

Had a very enjoyable weekend in Bankhead National Forest. This beautiful forest is sometimes referred to as the "land of a thousand waterfalls", and it was easy to see why. Even a short walk down one of the  trails will lead you to one of the many streams falling down the rock faces. We were there primarily in search of herps (reptiles/amphibians), but it was a bit on the cool side so the snakes weren't moving much but we managed to find a few, along with our target species, the green salamander! These pretty little gems live in the cracks and crevices of the many rocky outcrops.The birding was exceptional with highlights including black-throated green warblers, Kentuky warbler, scarlet tanager, orchard orioles, wood thrush and many more. We saw a total of 61 species (full list below). The forest is well-known for its breeding cerulean warblers, but we didn't hear or see any this trip. Guess that means we will have to go back again! If you live in the area or want to plan a trip, I highly recommend a visit to this forest. For more information, click here.

 Green Salamander
Slimy Salamander

Northern Cricket Frog
Spring Peeper
Green/Bronze Frog
Cope's Gray Treefrog
Green Treefrog
Fowler's Toad

Plain-Bellied Watersnake
Northern Watersnake
Eastern Garter Snake
Ringneck Snake
Black Racer
Timber Rattlesnake (Dead on Road - DOR)
Eastern Hognose (DOR)
Corn Snake (DOR)

Green Anole
Broadhead Skink
Ground Skink

Eastern Box Turtle
Yellow-Bellied Slider
Spiny Softshell

Species Count: 25

Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Kingbird
American Robin
Chipping Sparrow
Yellow-Throated Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Wood Pewee
Brown-Headed Cowbird
Mourning Dove
 Summer Tanager
Common Yellowthroat
Carolina Chickadee
Canada Goose
White-Eyed Vireo
Red-Winged Blackbird
Orchard Oriole
Red-Eyed Vireo
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Parula
 Tufted Titmouse
Eastern Bluebird
American Crow
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Wood Thrush
Great-Crested Flycatcher
Louisiana Waterthrush
Acadian Flycatcher
Black-and-White Warbler
Black-Throated Green Warbler
 Hooded Warbler
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Cardinal
Prairie Warbler
Indigo Bunting
Brown-Headed Nuthatch
Kentucky Warbler
Chimney Swift
Great Blue Heron
Common Grackle
 Brown Thrasher
Carolina Wren
Downy Woodpecker
Wood Duck?
Gray Catbird
Worm-Eating Warbler?
Vulture sp.
Eastern Phoebe
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Wild Turkey
 Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Eastern Towhee
Cedar Waxwing
Palm Warbler?
Blue Jay
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Yellow-Throated Vireo
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
 Northern Mockingbird
Gray-Cheeked Thrush?

Species Count: 61