Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birder's Paradise - Palm Beach County

We just returned from a fantastic week in Florida, birding every day. I dowloaded 772 photos to my computer, and had deleted at least another 80 or so from the camera directly each night while we were there. That's the delight of digital photography - take lots of pictures, and don't worry about the ones that don't turn out right. I hardly know where to start.
We added five new birds to our life list. Well run nature preserves provided large numbers of birds to photograph while standing on a boardwalk. One preserve sponsored a Nature Photography class that we attended and got some great pointers from a 20 year veteran nature photographer. It's breeding season, so some birds were in their courting feathers, while others tended their babies.
The Purple Galinule (where do they get these names!) did not show itself in Alabama, so I was specially glad to find it now. They have iridescent feathers, and bright yellow legs with long toes. Climbing up and down the branches nibbling on flowers, they hang upside down and can run across the lily pads. The Sora is a shy marsh bird, with beautiful brown feathers and a yellow bill. Snail Kites are found only in South Flordia, and eat only apple snails. This one landed across the marsh with a snail to eat, so we didn't get a good view of it's head, since it was concentrating on lunch.

You meet such interesting people on the beach, and one birder from New York told us were to find the Florida Burrowing Owl. It digs burrows in the sand, preferring places with short grassy areas, such as parks and airports. The Pompano Municipal Airport has an area with at least 15 burrows, just inside the fence. It looked like a prairie dog village! Most of them were visible through the scope, but not the camera. They watched the cars going by for entertainment, turning their heads quickly from right to left. A passing skater advised us to move down a bit to see a burrow right against the fence. The fence itself interfers with the pictures, so just ignore it. The little birds were the cutest things!
We are well acquainted with the Mourning Dove and it's quiet cooing. Florida is being invaded by the Eurasian Collared Dove. Although it resembles the Mourning Dove, they act like they are on steriods - very agressive, chasing other birds around and sounding like Ninja Doves.


The Writers Blog said...

What camera do you use?

Kathy Dennis said...

I use a Panasonic Lumix with a teleconverter. It's not the most expensive camera in the world, but I've been happy with it.