Monday, 9 September 2019

Florida Birding Chronicles, The Disney Part

Black Vulture
The trip to Florida wasn't entirely reptile focused (it was mostly Disney focused in reality!) but I also did loads of birding. Up in Orlando we were staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Great Egrets were all over the place. We also had Mourning Dove and Collared Dove breeding in the grounds along with a stack of Common Grackles. Each evening as I enjoyed a beer on the balcony watching the Zebras and Giraffes potter about Common Nighthawks were seen hawking over the hotel. I got some terrible photos which was great! White Ibis were everywhere on site, acting as a multi-handed (or billed) clean up gang. In the damper areas including the pool and the Flamingo enclosure were small groups of Mottled Ducks. A handful of Barn Swallows scooted overhead most days and there were occasional sightings of Northern Mockingbird and Eastern Bluebird with family parties of both kicking about. Each morning round the hotel you would get loafing Black Vultures waiting for the thermals to build so they could search the area for dead stuff.
Blurry Nighthawk
 In the parks there were plenty of great birds to see. Our first day at Magic Kingdom started with Fish Crows making their odd call, with a few American Crows chucked in. By the end of the holiday I still couldn't tell the difference without call. Parties of Boat-tailed Grackles bothered the queues into the parks, scavenging what they could. An unidentified warbler overhead had yellow on it. Without bins I was struggling - thankfully I kept them in the backpack most of the time. Overhead at Magic Kingdom were a plethora of Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures and my first Swallow-tailed Kite. The latter species was a lifer I was very much looking forward to but the distant views of it circling several hundred feet up with the vultures were disappointing. Hopefully there would be more to come? Both Green Heron and Tricolored Heron messed around near the water areas of the park along with the ubiquitous White Ibis. Obviously there were House Sparrows. We moved onto Animal Kingdom park late in the day for a change of scenery and were greeted in the Avatar themed land with our only Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the trip which popped up briefly looking all the world like a CGI knock-up.

One of several million White Ibis seen at Disney
Across the rest of the parks it was a similar story generally but Epcot had a plethora of Anhinga and Double-crested Cormorants and we eventually found the Ospreys. A Red-tailed Hawk was seen sat up in the rafters of the buildings at Epcot, hiding out of the sun. Amongst the scavenging Ibis was our only Limpkin of the trip. A probably Wood Stork thermalling was too far away to be sure and I let that go. On our way in we saw a band of Turkeys foraging on the side of the Osceola Parkway with Sandhill Cranes doing the same the following day en route to Blizzard Beach. Our first Starlings were seen somewhere during this period but quite where I have no idea. By the end of the time at Disney I was getting itchy feet to do some proper birding and I wasn't to be disappointed.

Turkey Vulture

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive