Wednesday, April 15, 2009

C'mon my House (Part IV of our Florida Trip, Apr. 6, 2009)

C’mon my house, c’mon
I’m gonna give you eye candies..

Based on our research, Turkey Creek Sanctuary at Palm Bay is one of the places to look for migrant warblers. So off we went from Orlando, which took us about an hour to get there. Turkey Creek is indeed a nice place to go birding…if you can see the birds. There is an extensive boardwalk that goes through a heavily forested area. Tall trees were festooned with spanish moss and the undergrowth was quite thick. It was quite maddening to hear the chorus of birds and not see a single one. Well, except for an overly curious Gray Catbird.

It was when we were almost running out of patience that three local birders arrived. Bill and Shirley Hills and their British friend, Howard, saw the exasperated look on our faces and offered to show us around. Bill and Shirley come to this place every morning thus they know every nook and cranny of the sanctuary. More importantly, they know where to look for the birds. It wasn’t long before we were seeing the migrants such as a Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warblers, Black-and-White Warblers. I was lucky to have seen the American Redstart first (which I proudly pointed out to them) and then they in turn showed us a lifer - the Worm-eating Warbler.

While walking along the boardwalk Howard mentioned that there are tons of Indigo and Painted Buntings at the feeders at the home of the Hills. Inasmuch as it was almost noon and they were ready to call it a day, Bill and Shirley insisted that we follow them to their house so we could see for ourselves what Howard was talking about.

They even have a two chairs set-up near their back yard, facing three feeders and a couple of birdbaths. Shirley turned on the mister so that the birds can take “a shower”. You’ll see a lot of birds, not just the buntings, Shirley assured us. True enough, the colorful buntings soon arrived and feasted on the seeds that the Hills prepared for them. Unfortunately the feeders were quite far for good photography and we were not able to get decent pictures of the colorful buntings. Pretty soon the place was swarming with birds, Blue Jays would scare the smaller buntings. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was pecking above us. Carolina and House Wrens and Tufted Titmice took turns at the bird bath. A Brown Thrasher even showed up momentarily. After a while the sound of the twittering of the birds were replaced by the growling of our stomachs. We reluctantly left the eye-candies.

We had a stroke of luck when we found a Chinese Buffet lunch for only $4.99 in the city of Melbourne! Filled and feeling a bit lethargic, we went to Viera Wetlands where birding by car is quite the norm. By this time, the winds were starting to pick-up and so our sightings were not as good as we expected and we didn’t pick up any lifers (no Limpkins!). We did however have some nice bird photos like this Pied-billed Grebe in what appears to be biting more than it can chew. :-)

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