September 2011 Migrants
Fall migration starts in the summer for some birds, and really gets rolling in September and October. My first burst of migrants was in our own backyard, highlighted by this Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It was attracted to our flowers and feeder, as it fattened up for its eventual 500 mile non-stop flight over the Gulf of Mexico to Central or South America. The Ruby-throated is the only species of hummingbird that regularly nests east of the Mississippi River.
Seeing bird pairs (male and female) together, like these Black-throated Blue Warblers, is always a treat.
The American Redstart is another warbler pair that frequents Northeast Florida The breeding male has distinctive jet black, red-orange, yellow and white markings.
The female has brightly colored yellow markings. Both birds flash their tails on and off frequently to startle and chase insects.
Cradle Creek Preserve
This preserve on the marsh is only five minutes from our house in Jacksonville Beach. In addition to several Osprey nests, it has owls, hawks, woodpeckers, vultures, and marsh waders. It also has its share of seasonal migratory birds. I found this pair of Black and White Warblers near the entrance, creeping along the tree trunks and branches foraging for food.
About a year earlier I ran into our postman, Gary Berretta, while birding at Cradle Creek. I found out that he does nature photography in his spare time and he put me on to Art Morris (Birds as Art), a world-class bird photographer who lives in south Florida. Gary also shared some of his favorite websites for learning about bird photography, which was a big help.
This small park in Atlantic Beach, Florida probably has more birds per acre than any place I bird around Jacksonville. Its varied habitat is well maintained and easy to navigate. I started birding there near the end of September and my first bird was a “lifer”, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, another migrant.
The park also has its resident birds which include the common backyard species, owls, woodpeckers, waders, and hawks. This Red-shouldered Hawk remained on its perch for some time before flying off.
Finally, an apparent park resident during the summer, this Eastern Wood-Pewee (a “flycatcher”) is often seen “hawking” insects from its perch.
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Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist
NEXT POST September 2011 – Dancing Egrets, Hawk, Heron and Shrike!
“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of green deep woods.” –John Muir