Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Florida Week!

Tuesday, November 15, a gloriously sunny and clear day, with temps in the mid-seventies!  We stayed at our Ocala NF campsite just to soak it all in!  As we do our "sit and stay" birding, we are getting great looks at blue-gray gnatcatchers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, yellow-rumped warblers, goldfinches, black vultures, Carolina chickadees, tree swallows, and a flyover great-blue heron.

Black vulture, pictured below, are differentiated from turkey vulture by their smaller size, different wing posture when in flight, and lack of dihedral in wing position.  You can also see whitish patches at the end of each wing, where the turkey vulture's wing has a long whitish trailing edge of the entire wing.  These vultures stage in trees above us to go to their nighttime roost.

The trees here at our campsite, long-leaf pines and live oaks, are draped in Spanish moss.

Palmetto palms are all around us.

Ocala NF covers 3 million acres (once 9 million acres) and it offers diverse wildlife including black bear, wild turkey, and more, as well as diverse plant species.  Fire is an important component to preserve the natural growth of trees and vegetation here.  Lots of dragonflies, monarch butterflies, and some large grasshoppers with red markings have been seen by us this morning, but I didn't have a camera with me.  Plus there is commercial wood production.  The Nature Conservancy, in conjunction with the forest service and other alliances, hopes to increase the forest to 8 million acres by 2025.  That would be wonderful in densely populated Florida!

As I write, a barred owl is calling!  A belted kingfisher is making its cackling call, too.  And this is mid-day when it is typically quiet bird-wise!

Michael taking a break from setting up our trailer leveling jacks.