Chipola Feather Fest 2015 – Day 3

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Well time sure flies when you’re having fun. What a wonderful 3 days we had in the beautiful Florida panhandle. Great company, brilliant birding, great local cuisine, entertaining speakers, fun, fun and more fun! Can’t wait for next year. Of the 4 festivals I’ve helped coordinate AND of all the festivals I’ve attended this one was by far the most enjoyable.

My last field trip of feather fest was not to the advertised destination. We had planned to hike the Bellamy Bridge Trail along the Upper Chipola River but due to last week’s deluge it’s 8 feet under water! I’ve spent enough time under water thank you very much. Plan B was to bird River Rd along the western shore of Lake Seminole and visit eBird hotspots along the southern shore. It was a good plan B, we saw 71 species!

After dipping on yesterday’s White-faced Ibis we headed to Parramore Landing. He may be old but his ears are still working just fine. Murph detected a chip note..”Kentucky Warbler.” We eventually saw 3….pretty decent views. I’ll be heading back there to try and confirm them for the breeding bird atlas. Other species there included a very obliging male Summer Tanager and this female Red-bellied Woodpecker.


Our next stop, at Apalachee WMA, produced 4 Purple Gallinules and a Least Bittern.

Jim Woodruff Dam never disappoints. We watched Cliff Swallows feeding their young, Eastern Kingbirds having territorial disputes and most surprisingly a female Red-breasted Merganser.


We had Swainson’s Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoos at the west overlook including my only Acadian Flycatcher of the festival! Pam spotted an Orchard Oriole nest at Sneads Park and there was an American White Pelican on the lake. Our last stop of the trip was at the flooded pastures east of Dellwood where we had seen the White-faced Ibis on day 2. We didn’t see the WFIB but we did get Greater Yellowlegs and Blue-winged Teal.

We’ve got big plans for next year’s festival. We’ll be scheduling some of the same trips from this year but we’ll be adding a coastal trip to St. George Island and also hope to offer a Lake Seminole boat trip. Stay tuned for when Chipola Feather Fest 2016 goes live. The date has been set….April 15-17.

Chipola Feather Fest – Day 2

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Birds have a way of making me look good at times. They have made me look bad too! Today was a good one. While driving a van fulk of excited birders to Apalachee WMA on the eBird trip today we drove by a flooded pasture. There were a few birds there including a group of 7 plegadis ibis. I knew instantly that there was a good chance that one or more of them could be a White-faced…and I was right! It was a smart looking adult too! Glossy Ibis aren’t common in Jackson Co. either. A great start. Then the heavens literally took a wet dump on us. Man it poured!

An hour and a half later it stopped and birding resumed. My pictures were crap today, I wasn’t on fire in that department.

Hopefully I’ll get some good pictures tomorrow.

Chipola Feather Fest 2015 – Day 1

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What a wonderful day it was. I had the pleasure of leading a merry band to Apalachee Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Co. on the first day of the festival and had a great time. We saw and/or heard 47 species all told (see list). The birding highlight was a group of 3 not so lonely Solitary Sandpipers; they were frequenting a flooded field. The non-birding highlight was watching a herd of White-tailed Deer being chased by a Coyote! No Roadrunners here in Florida so what’s a Wile Coyote to do, eh? We had great looks at a lot of the sites key species, such as Bachman’s Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Brown-headed Nuthatch.

Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch

This Great Crested Flycatcher was most obliging.


I’ll be heading back there again tomorrow…can’t wait.

WCBO: April 21-22 2015

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The deluge finally ended on Monday and we have had two nice weather days, which allowed me to open the nets after work on both days.

This evening while walking between nets I looked up to see an Eastern Kingbird flying over, the 9th WCBO record.

WCBO: April 18th

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It was muggy and overcast today. We had nothing out the ordinary really and banding was slow. We recaptured a male Carolina Chickadee which Maisie got to release. She wuvs chickadees!


1 Great Egret — Flying SW
3 Turkey Vulture
2 Red-shouldered Hawk — Courtship display 
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Laughing Gull
1 Chimney Swift
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Pileated Woodpecker
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
3 Blue Jay
1 Fish Crow
1 Purple Martin
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Carolina Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Northern Parula
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Hooded Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee
1 Summer Tanager — Female 
5 Northern Cardinal
1 Common Grackle
2 House Finch

4 Pine Siskin — Still here

We also see a lot of cool non-avian wildlife at WCBO. The Broad-headed Skinks were getting frisky!



The male (top picture) is about 6 inches long and twice the size of the female.

WCBO: April 17th 2015

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A productive couple of hours after work today produced

1 Osprey — Flying high NW
1 Broad-winged Hawk — Circling high and calling. Drifted E
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male)
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
2 White-eyed Vireo
2 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Blue Jay
1 Fish Crow
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
2 Carolina Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
2 Northern Mockingbird
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee
4 Northern Cardinal
2 House Finch

7 Pine Siskin — loafing in pine trees. Males were singing & chasing each other around.

I only caught 2 birds, a male Northern Cardinal and this cracking White-eyed Vireo.


WCBO: April 12th

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Sunday April 12th

11 Common Loons flew over between 8:06 & 8:43. Pine Siskins were flying over throughout day to and from all directions so it was difficult to get accurate counts of how many there actually were. Not much activity at feeders or birdbaths. Banding was very slow. I caught 3 birds one of which was a male Northern Cardinal I had originally banded on October 18 2011.


Total species: 28

11 Common Loon
2 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Mourning Dove
3 Chimney Swift
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
3 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Pileated Woodpecker
3 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Yellow-throated Vireo
6 Blue Jay
2 Fish Crow
1 Purple Martin
3 Carolina Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
4 Carolina Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Gray Catbird
1 Northern Mockingbird
27 Cedar Waxwing
2 Northern Parula
1 Pine Warbler
2 Eastern Towhee
8 Northern Cardinal
2 House Finch
4 Pine Siskin

For more information on the Willaura Circle Bird Observatory

An iPhone, a Phoneskope adapter, a scope, Videoshop app, and the great outdoors….

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…is all you need to create a fairly decent amateur video. I’m having so much fun creating these short videos. So easy a caveman can do it!!!!

Chipola Feather Fest Preview from Andy Wraithmell aka Limeybirder on Vimeo.

Don’t be a FOOL!

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Grouchy Grackle

Register for the Chipola Feather Fest before 11:59pm tonight and get 25% OFF…use discount code NOFOOL2015

Festival takes place April 24-26 2015 in Marianna, Florida.

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when….

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Daphne, a birding friend of mine inspired me to write this post after asking about a bird picture I posted on my facebook page. The bird in question was a Chough (Red-billed), one of my favorite birds from back home. I told Daphne in my reply that the Chough would easily make the Top 10 list of birds I miss from back home. So, what other species would make that top 10 “I miss them so” list?

Barnacle Goose

You have to go visit Caerlaverock Wildfowl & Wetland Trust Reserve in Scotland during the winter and watch the spectacular flocks of Barnacle Geese. A beautiful bird set against a backdrop of beautiful Scottish scenery.

Manx Shearwater

Sitting on the lush green grass atop a towering limestone cliff in SW Wales watching 200,000 Manxies gathering offshore is one of the birding highlights of my life and I got to experience it many times. One of the benefits of living within view of the world’s largest colony of this hardy ocean wanderer.

Great Skua

The “Bonxie” (the gaelic name for Great Skua) is quite simply a bad ass bird! If there was a parallel universe where Stan Lee created super hero birds, then the Great Skua would be The Incredible Hulk. I’ve seen hundreds of them but I’m always excited when I spot another one. There is only one other bird that provokes a similar emotional reaction for me and that’s my favorite bird, the Peregrine Falcon. I’ve seen a Peregrine mobbing a Great Skua, a very memorable minute!

Northern Lapwing

One of the most beautiful shorebirds in the world. Their song and display is simply awesome. Banding lapwing chicks at Dungeness was great! The chicks are surprisingly fast runners!

Wood Pigeon

I remember looking at my first ever Wood Pigeon through a pair of binoculars from a blind at my primary school feeding station. The colors were so sharp. Seeing them reminds me of younger days exploring the Cheshire countryside.

Common Cuckoo

In North Cheshire spring had arrived when male Cuckoos, fresh in from Africa, were singing their name. We used to call back at them when I was a kid, a party trick I excelled at in later years. When a female flew right over our heads on a college field trip my professor looked at me in awe! If only I was as good at keying out plants as calling in cuckoos!

Common Redstart

Is there a more beautiful British songbird? Simply gorgeous. It’s always exciting to find one. One of my favorite birds to band, they’re so timid and patient. The male’s plumage is a masterpiece of nature!

Long-tailed Tit

We caught a whole family flock one day when I worked at Dungeness. We released them all together and watching and listening to them them fly off was hilarious. They have such tiny bodies and ridiculously long tails that they look comical when flying. Women literally lose their minds when they see long-tails.

Eurasian Siskin

The males are stunning. Every spring we would enjoy watching them visit our feeders, stopping for a few hours before migrating north. Dad and I still talk about siskins every spring. Of all the backyard birds I’ve enjoyed, the Eurasian Siskin is easily my favorite.

Red-billed Chough

And last but certainly not least is the coolest looking crow on earth. Yes it is a corvid (crow) and has an amazing call which I love to hear echoing off the towering cliffs along the Welsh coast. I was lucky enough to work in Pembrokeshire where there is a healthy population of Chough. We monitored several nests and I got to band a few chicks.

I hope you enjoyed watching the videos as much as I did. Heading over to Britain in June and I’m hoping I get to see a few of these species again.