Last April I wrote about the Best Birds on my trip to Nevada. Now I’m back from Florida and happy to report many Best Birds there too.
- Most beautiful: Painted buntings at Merritt Island Visitor Center. Last Sunday it was very cold and windy so three male painted buntings stayed close to the feeders. Their blue, red and green colors (shown above) glowed in the nearby bushes.
- Best raptor was a peregrine falcon at Daytona Beach Shores who hazed the gulls loafing on the sand, then flew to the tallest building to wait and watch for another opportunity. By focusing on the peregrine I missed seeing the jaegers. Oh well.
- Most amazing flock: The 30+ American white pelicans who herded fish at Merritt Island. They swam in tight formation stirring the water with their feet, drove the fish ahead of them, and gulped them up. Overhead a flock of gulls kited in the wind, hoping for an easy catch. From a distance the gulls looked like flags waving above a grandstand.
- Crowd Pleaser: Without a doubt the vermilion flycatcher at Orlando Wetlands Park was a crowd pleaser. It was a life bird for me in Nevada last year but this time I had a much better look at it. What a cooperative bird! Like all flycatchers he perched on a branch, made forays to catch bugs, and often returned to the same branch. Everyone on the Halifax River Audubon outing got good looks at him.
Thanks to Chuck and Joan Tague for showing me so many wonderful birds!
(…and thanks to Chuck Tague for these photos)