Orlando Birding in January

Winter is a great time to see Crested Caracara outside of Lake Kissimmee.

January 28, 2012 – South Carolina has some pretty nice winters, but Florida has nice winters and migrating birds.  For these two nature lovers, a weekend trip was a no-brainer.  As usual we headed out after work on Friday to maximize time spent exploring over the weekend.

Immature Bald Eagle
it's also a great time to see immature bald eagles.

Saturday’s destinations were Lake Kissimmee State Park, Big Tree Park, and Spring Hammock in the northern part of Orlando.  Unfortunately the very large tree that lived there had recently burned, so that area was closed.  We drove around the block and found a parking lot by a few baseball diamonds and a soccer field.  This suited us just fine, since we could walk across the street and be on a trail.  Before we even got to the trail we had a great view of a kestrel happily sitting on the power line.

American Kestrel
Yes, kestrels do like to sit on power lines.

The first views from the trail are, admittedly, slightly less-than-stellar since you walk by a fenced-in company property.  Once past that, though, you’re greeted with views of giant Cyprus trees (probably 5’+ in diameter) and a pretty forested walk.  We headed towards the water, finding a wood stork, a group of ibis before reaching the boardwalk.  Once we did get on the boardwalk we heard a few owls hooting and saw an osprey perched in a tree.  At the end of the boardwalk is a little deck overlooking the water, where we could see wood ducks and a very inquisitive hawk perched just a few feet over our heads.

Osprey Spring Hammock
This osprey watched us for quite a while.

By this time it was getting towards dinner, so we headed over to Polonia for some Polish food.  There will be another post coming about this place, but just wanted to say now that (1) it’s good, very good and (2) there were a lot of mostly-Polish people there, so you know it’s good when the great-grandkids of the original immigrants still show up for some home-cooking.

Red Shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered hawks are a pretty common site in Florida.

After dinner we managed to find room for the delicious dark hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream from Ghirardelli in downtown Disney.  Yummy, as usual!

Bald Eagle
Another day, another 3 bald eagles.

January 29, 2012 – The following Sunday we went to Merritt Island.  There were thousands of migratory birds hanging out in the water.  Literally thousands – mostly Coots (and more kept flying in and swimming in lines to join the ever-expanding group), with a few dozen Blue-winged Teals thrown in for good measure.  We took a loop around the Black Point Wildlife drive to check out some more of the ducks, and found even more Coots, a spoon-bill flying over the road, and some very cool Northern Shovelers.

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