Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Myrtle Warbler

The yellow rumped warbler has four subspecies, but there is a current proposal to split those subspecies into four separate species. Goldman's warbler, one of the subspecies, is found in the highlands of Guatemala and is non-migratory. The black-fronted warbler, another, is found in Mexico and is also non-migratory. Two of the subspecies are found in the U.S. and both are migratory and winter in the southern U.S. and down into Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The Audubon warbler is found on the western U.S. and the myrtle warbler is found in the eastern U.S. 
This flying bird gives the best look at various elements. You can just see the yellow patch on its rear, the yellow patch on the side and the white bars on the wings. It is in its brown, non-breeding plumage. 
Male Audubon and myrtle warblers both have yellow rumps and yellow side patches. The Audubon has a yellow throat and the myrtle has a white throat and a black mask. Females in breeding plumage have two white wing bars and adults in non-breeding plumage are brownish overall . They have thin, sharp bills and notched tails. 
You see the more whitish throat and a good dose of the yellow side patch. 
I saw this myrtle warbler in the Viera Wetlands near Melbourne, Florida. 
This photo shows the notched tail, but the yellow rump patch is covered by the wings. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Moose and Potato Pie

A friend who knows I like wild meats gave me a gift of moose meat that a relative bottled and canned in Labrador, Canada. We were having LDS missionaries over for dinner and I like to serve wild meat to them when they come. It makes them want to come to our house for dinner and gives them something fun to write home about. 
Bottled moose
Canned moose
Judy volunteered to make a moose and potato pie. We opened both the bottled moose and canned moose and mixed them together with peas, onions, carrots and zucchini and I'm not sure what else, Judy did it while I was at work. 
Moose mixed in with vegetables. 
She made a pie crust for the base, put in the meat and vegetable mixture, then covered it with mashed potatoes and put in in the oven to bake. 
Pie crust
Finished product covered with mashed potatoes.
The end product was great. The moose meat, which tasted a lot like canned beef, was moister and more flavorful and the mashed potatoes added a wonderful flavor and softer mouth feel. 
Cross-section of the pie.
It was a marvelous use of the moose meat. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

American Alligator

I've seen enough alligators now that I'm not quite as excited as I used to be. However, I still love to see them. In my January 2018 visit to Florida and southern Georgia I saw quite a few, including 20 in one morning at the Orlando Wetlands Park. Here are my favorite pictures from this most recent trip.
This scenery shot from Orlando Wetlands shows the broad expanse of the water there. Most of the gators I saw there were on land right at the edge of the water. 
The various trails had names. I particularly enjoyed the name "Alligator Alley."
This scenery shot from Circle B Bar Reserve shows the dike system that separates the water and provide places for the alligators to sun themselves. 
From Okefenokee NWR in Southern Georgia. This is a blackwater swamp and the floating leaves provide color and camouflage for the alligator. 
One of my favorite alligator photos (at Orlando Wetlands). I got down on the alligator's level, eye to eye. 
Swimming gator at Orlando Wetlands.
Also at Orlando Wetlands.
At Circle B Bar.
A close-up of this big guy's (or girl's) teeth.
I love the black water at Okefenokee and the reddish and yellowish leaves on the water. The yellow matches the yellow on the underside of the gator's head. 
This water is only about 18 inches deep. 
A very young (and small) gator at Circle B Bar.
Circle B Bar
Circle B Bar
Orlando Wetlands
Although I saw more gators at Orlando Wetlands, I liked the backdrops better at Circle B Bar and Okefenokee. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Harris Hawk - Sky Falconry

As a gift for our anniversary, Judy got us signed up for a basic falonry class at Sky Falconry in Alpine, California, northeast of San Diego. After driving to Alpine we drove to the outskirts and then a number of miles down a dirt road and through a locked gate to a beautiful mountainside with very little nearby habitation.
There we were introduced to a Harris hawk, learned about falconry, why Harris hawks are good birds for falconry and then had multiple opportunities to hold the hawk on our gloved hand and have it land on our hand from a flight, then send the hawk on to someone else. 
Judy has her hand out for the Harris hawk to land on. 
The hawk comes in for a landing on Judy's hand. 
The hawk on Judy's hand. 
At the end we were able to each throw some quail pieces in the air and watch the hawk grab it with its claws out of the air. 

I've seen one wild Harris hawk last year, in Cabeza Prieta NWR outside Ajo, Arizona. However, it was difficult to get very close to it. With this captive hawk, we got the thrill of close-up views, different angles of it in flight, and fantastic photo opportunities. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

American Coot - Florida

I did a post on the American coot last year in Southern Arizona. This year I saw them again in Florida, in the Orlando Wetlands and on Merritt Island. I didn't have any good close-up views, but I saw them in large groupings. In Arizona I was only looking at 2 adults and one or two youngsters. 
In Orlando Wetlands Park. 

At Merritt Island

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Greater Yellowlegs

The adult greater yellowlegs has long yellow legs and a long, thin bill which is longer than its head. The body is gray/brown on top and white underneath, including the rump. The neck and breast are streaked with dark brown. In breeding plumage they have quite a bit of black on the back and shoulders. 
The long yellow legs are one of the identifiers. The shape and coat are similar to other birds. This bird does not breed in Florida, but it looks like it has breeding plumage (dark spots on the back and shoulders). This is my best guess for now. 
It breeds in the far north of Canada and Alaska and winters along much of the west and east coasts of the U.S., most of Florida and much of Texas and much of Mexico. 

It was a difficult bird to identify (I hope I've identified it correctly). I saw several of them on Merritt Island. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Black Vulture

I've blogged on the black vulture previously. It is almost entirely black except for silvery/white patches on the underside of the wing tips. The tail is short and square and the wing tips are splayed and have "fingers" in flight. The head and neck have no feathers and the skin is rumpled in a way that makes it look like chain-mail. The iris of the eye is brown, the beak is short and hooked, and the legs are grayish/white. 
Standing in a tree covered with Spanish moss at Orlando Wetlands. 
At Circle B Bar.

Standing on a structure in Orlando Wetlands. The one on the closest end is immature, noted by its more feathery head. 
I had close encounters with black vultures at Orlando Wildlife Park and at Circle B Bar. In Orlando I saw many of them in flight and got some reasonably good pictures. At Circle B Bar they were feeding on dead fish at the edge of a pond. 

Feeding on a fish.