Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Florida raptors, Coopers Hawk, Red shouldered Hawk and Osprey

Treking around Orlestone Forest, detouring around fly-tipping, slipping and sliding in the mud and more mud. Looking up at the sky a Buzzard here, a fleeting Sparrowhawk there and nothing close enough to merit powering on my camera. How different it was just a week ago on a family Florida / Everglades holiday. There, good trails and boardwalks, birds of prey everywhere - many very approachable too. We saw 11 winter birds of prey in Florida, many from the car (including a Bald Eagle), a memorable all-white Short-tailed Hawk (sadly no pic) and Ospreys just about everywhere. So here's a selection of some easy stuff taken in just enough time not to annoy my family who stood waiting and swatting mosquitos.

Our first new bird was a superb Coopers Hawk that Sian found hidden deep in a darky shady Mangrove Hammock. She spent some time trying to point the bird out to me through a maze of foliage and twisted trees - it was very dificult to see. In the end its position was identified by a number of small birds in its vicinty delivering a chorus of alarm calls.  From the wooden boardwalk, so typical of Everglade nature trails, this Coopers Hawk seemed distant; enveloped in shadow. So I'm amazed how detailed the pictures are from this distance. This male Coopers Hawk had prey, which I think may have been a Grey squirrel. In size the hawk looked like a lean and purposeful Goshawk or even perhaps an over sized Sparrowhawk with a long powerful rounded tail.

Coopers Hawk, John Peenekamp National park, Florida Keys

The Red Shouldered Hawks were photographed at Flamingo, a superb state park in the Everglades (no Flamingos there though!) The birds were very vocal and very easy to find. As I photographed the hen bird the male decided to attempt some opportunistic mating. Minutes later I photographed Ospreys mating too. Perhaps they were prompted by the warm March temperatures and the heat and wet season to come. Just before we arrived in Miaimi the Everglades had received intense storm with high winds, and over our holiday I saw many Ospreys rebuilding nests, bashfully flying down into busy car parks collecting branches, and sometimes litter, to rebuild their nests.

From the moment we arrived at Miami Airport and headed to Miami Beach it was impossible not to see Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures soaring and wheeling over the city skyline or sometimes just sitting on roadside gantries and buildings. On one trail in the Everglades Park, Black Vultures infamously sit on top of visitors' cars to demolish windscreen wipers and rubber car trim. For protection we followed other visitor's solutions, wrapping tarpaulin sheets (provided by the park) over the front of the cars for protection. We saw so few birds that day (indeed a feature of the Everglades this present, dry season) that the vandalous Vultures will be one of the abiding memories.
Red Shouldered Hawks, Flamingo Everglades National Park

Osprey, Flamingo, Everglades National park

Black Vulture at Flamingo, Everglades National park

Turkey Vulture at Flamingo

Turkey Vulture at Flamingo


Ploddingbirder said...

Very nice Nick.

Clare Gillatt said...

Stunning photos, we need more! Not sure a Grey Squirrel would have feathers!

Steve Pearson said...

Lovely clear pictures again Nick - but where are your Disneyland shots? :)

Peter said...

Nick. You have some interesting photos showing flooding in 2009.
We are researching flood history around Shadox for our battle against the threatening arrival of developers so wondered where the pics are located and whether you have more on the subject.
Currently looking at Woodchurch Rd around the pub and the fields around which have had events but not well documented.
Like the rest of your pics by the way