Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well I started to write this blog about something else then I became involved in the GBBC. Because I was having so much fun trying to count backyard birds at home and at work I thought why not write about it.

What is the GBBC you ask? The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

Now this was only my second time trying this. Last year being my first and I didn’t get much at all a few Eurasian –collared Doves a Starling or two and a couple of Mockers. Of course I live in a condo and we are not allowed to put up bird feeders, so I have to work with what will fly into my yard and I have had a few yardbirds.

This year at home on the first day I got 5 ECD's 3 Starlings, 1 Mocking bird. Boring!!! At work I decide to check out the pond across the street. I have seen all kinds of birds flying around there. It’s not exactly the best place as there have been some homeless people and I think some drug deals going down and one a naked man came running out of the bushes one morning. I got a friend to go with me and it has been quiet there for a while now and I have wanted to see what was in there for the longest time. I saw 1 Anhinga. 6 Double crested Cormorants, 3 Muscovy Ducks, 1 Palm Warbler, a bunch of gulls which I can’t ID not the greatest list but not too bad for the area.

We use to see more warblers around the office but ever since hurricane Wilma I don't see them anymore. Usually there are a few house sparrows but haven't seen them lately either.

On Saturday the second day of the GBBC at home I got 5 ECD's 3 Starlings, 1 Mocker and about 50 White ibis that landed on the rooftop of the condo across the square. I wish I had had my camera ready as they proceeded to one at a time jump off the roof and slowly descend into the little park below. . A short time later my son says they are back and sure enough they are all over the ground in my square. I took a few photos 20 or30 to be exact. I was so happy that they decided to land in my back yard on this second day of the GBBC.

So after the photo shoot I went back to my dishes when I see them all taking flight and heading toward my condo and I go out and they are landing on my roof. I walk to the end of the cat walk and they are jumping of my roof and landing on the ground in front roof the office/recreation room. As I am trying to photograph this I hear a noise on the overhang roof and as I turn my head a bird takes flight to the ground then another then another and I am trying frantically to capture this. I am really pumped up now about this GBBC.

Hummmmmmmmmmm maybe I should go somewhere tomorrow to count the birds. Now where to go to get the most bang for my buck? I put the question to my son and right off he wants to go to Delray to Green Cay his favorite spot. OK so not exactly what I had in mind as I was thinking of someplace closer to home but OK . I do afterall I consider all of Florida my back yard and Green Cay is only 45 minutes away.

So on Sunday we got up early and headed north to Delray Beach, First stop Wakodahatchee Wetlands. It was a foggy morning so the pictures are a little dark but what a beautiful site to see first thing on the morning. Fog and birds everywhere and first thing I notice is all the Cattle Egrets surrounding the three Great blue Herons nesting in this shrubby. There are also some Anhingas in here as well but most are in another area where the GBH use to nest as did the Cattle Egrets. The Hurricanes in the past have taken a toll on this rookery but the Anhinga still make the most of it and so does one GBH.

Of course we see and photograph a lot of birds but the highlight was a Great Blue Heron collection nesting material. It walked around picking up a piece here and there but none seemed to meet his needs. Then it struggled with this huge branch pulling and tugging at it to free it. It moved it around but then seemed to think twice about it and picked up a smaller piece. Which he soon discarded and went back to the large branch. He once again moved it around and then when satisfied he had it right it started running. I thought “he will never make it off the ground” but he did and flew back to the nest where all the photographers were waiting with cameras ready to capture this event.

After Wakodahatchee Wetlands we went over to Green Cay. Here we walked around for 3 hours enjoying the sights and sounds. (Well except for the walkers and talkers. If you bird you know what I mean) We saw all the usual suspects and the highlight at this wetland area took place as we were walking in. My son said all your flowers are in bloom and we stopped to admire them and I tried to take a couple of pictures when my son spotted a humming bird but before we could focus on it was gone. We waited quietly and located it as it had only moved back into a tree to wait. When all the walkers had gone by it came back for another drink, this time I saw it’s little ruby throat so small it must be an immature hummer. I still didn’t get a shot as it moved so fast from flower to flower and again disappearing to that distant tree to wait till the passerby’s had gone and he came back again. This time I was successful at getting two decent shots, which was good because although we waited a little bit longer he didn’t come back and he wasn’t waiting on that distant tree either. So, on this birding excursion I got my first decent shot of a hummer. Now I am hooked on Hummers.

I had planned to list all the birds seen that day but it would take up too much space. Let's just saw we saw a lot of birds but nothing really unusual or rare. We did see lots of wading birds and some were nesting and had babies already. One of the biggest finds for me was seeing three Wilson's Snipes at the same time. A bird I usually only see one off at any given time. I didn't get the picture however as they were to far away and there were too many tree branches in the way to get a clear shot.

There were lots of Purple Martins flying around and checking out the new Martin housing.

The Boat-tailed Grackles and the Red-winged blackbirds were busy trying to attract mates and some were gathering nesting materials.
We saw Herons and Egrets and both White & Glossy Ibis. Lots of Blue-winged Teals and more Grebes then you could shake a stick at. There were Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Red-shouldered Hawks and a stray Warbler or two.
It's always a pleasure to go to these places as the views always change. There is always something going one and always pleanty of birds or other wildlife to see. You have to keep your eyes and ears pealed because you never know what will visit these bird rich wetlands!