Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Sometimes You Finds Birds, and Sometimes...
The Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve began as the country’s first large-scale, off-site wetlands mitigation project. In the early 1990s, The Walt Disney Co. purchased and donated 8,500 acres to the Conservancy to offset lands impacted by the development of Walt Disney World. The Disney Co. also provided funds for restoration and wildlife monitoring, and continues to partner a number of on-site projects. As we drove into the property this morning, we both had a feeling of deja vu. I remembered seeing parent Sandhill Cranes and a chick in the first field on the right. Yes, we visited this site in 2006 on our first birding trip to Florida! Florida Cranes are pretty urbanized. We keep seeing them in the drainage ditches along the roads, not concerned at all about the traffic zooming by.
It's amazing that we can remember these things. Clouds covered the sky when we started the day, and I wondered if I should have brought a jacket. But when the sun came out, I realized that I'd forgotten my HAT of all things. As we walked back through the Florida scrub land, a habitat that is rapidly vanishing, small birds flitted from one pine tree to another. You know how it works. They are so small and so fast, that they are next to impossible to see. We finally decided that the trilling call belonged to some Pine Warblers.
While the only bird that sat quietly for us to observe was a little Eastern Phoebe, tail bobbing and all.
A Greater Yellow-legs joined a Glossy Ibis and Reddish Egret shared a small pond behind the visitors center.
But the rest of the day was remarkable for its LACK of birds though. I think we were cursed by this tree demon. As good naturalists, though, we paid attention to the unfeathered creatures, and their signs, as we found them.
A mystery fly with yellow spots landed nearby....
... Aha! Apparently both deer and raccoons think it's easier to walk on the open trails than to push their way through the saw palmettos. Ow! I agree!
At Lake Lizzie, south of St. Cloud, we found the prints of a bobcat in the sand...
...and the burrow of a gopher tortoise, native to Florida.
Last time we were here we saw a Loggerhead Shrike and a duel between a Bald Eagle and Osprey over a fish! Ah well, each trip is a new opportunity, so we keep going.