Sunday Doubleheader: Mead Botanical Gardens and Ais Trail Park

October 11, 2017

Fresh from the sea this past Saturday night, I prepared to meet Camille for a trip out to Mead Botanical Gardens in Orlando on Sunday, since we’d heard there was some migrant activity there. I was tired from the previous day’s adventure, but as migration season is short, the promise of warblers was too good to pass up.

I did take my glitchy camera along, just in case I was able to get off a few reasonable shots. Here are the best of what I was able to photograph.

Chestnut-sided Warbler. The yellow wing-bars and cap (not seen here) are diagnostic for this species.
Fall-plumaged Magnolia Warbler, deep in the foliage.
One of several Swainson’s Thrushes.

Don’t let the scarcity of photographs fool you into thinking the day was a bust. I identified 13 species of warbler that morning (Camille had 11)! Earlier in the week, some birders had 16 species in the park! That’s a pretty good variety. Here’s the complete eBird list (with some of Camille’s photos):

After coming home, I got an e-mail from my friends Sarah and Bella who were hoping to try birding in a new location (for them). I suggested Ais Trail Park, in Palm bay, and met up with them in the late afternoon.

It was pretty quiet to start off, but we had some real teases. One was what appeared to be a Blackburnian male, still in bright breeding plumage. I saw the face and head, while Bella saw the large white wing patch. Between the two of us, we had a sighting, but we decided not to count it, since we didn’t each get a good clear look.

Then a warbler with an olive back, yellow underside and blue-gray head hopped up from the ground into some thick brush. I only saw it for the briefest second, The bird felt most like a Connecticut Warbler. It could have been a Nashville, but I wouldn’t have expected it to fly up from the ground onto a low branch before skulking away. I could not tell if the grey hood extended to the throat.

Neither bird was recovered despite some intensive searches.

But the best news of all was seeing a Peregrine Falcon fly over the park and then over Turkey Creek (near the lagoon) with great lighting. The ID was unmistakable, and this was Bella’s 200th ABA countable bird! Congratulations Bella!

She’s got amazing locating skills, and her birding abilities are as good, if not better, than many more experienced birders I know. But she has been doing this since she was a child.

Here’s our relatively short, but totally worth it list:

What a great end to an epic weekend.


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