My father and I just returned from a 3 day excursion through South Florida in search of birds we’ve never seen before.
We had a very successful trip. We found 104 species over the three days, including 6 species I’ve never seen in Florida: Neotropic Cormorant, Western Spindalis (lifer), Egyptian Goose, Bronzed Cowbird, Red-wiskered Bulbul (lifer), and Western Grebe.
We also had 2 currently non-countable species we’ve never seen before: Scaly-breasted Munia and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet. I also added two birds to my year list: Nashville Warbler and Burrowing Owl.
I don’t normally give away locations of nests or owl locations; however, these owls are well-known and their nests are clearly marked with yellow tape to encourage visitors to stay a safe distance away. It’s the strangest thing:Brian Piccolo Park is a community park with baseball and soccer fields, and these owls are nesting right next to the parking lots in the park.
We drove in and almost immediately saw the yellow tape surrounding the nest with an owl perched on the ground in front of the nest. I didn’t want to disturb the owl, so when the owl returned to its burrow, we crawled up to a safe distance and laid down in the grass.
When the owl came out again, we stayed motionless while photographing the bird. The owl seemed very comfortable with this, and I can see no reason why anyone would need to come anywhere near the nest.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen eBird documentation photos from here where the photographer was clearly pointing the camera down into the burrow, suggesting that the photographer was standing way too close. I don’t get this at all.
With all the stresses on these birds–nearby parking lots and stray soccer balls, they don’t need one more stress. And with a little patience, laying down in the grass will get you better photos anyway. Aside from the bug bite I received while laying in the grass, it was about the most rewarding 10 minutes of bird photography I can think of.
Scott Simmons, based in Florida, is a lover of nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. Scott became interested in photography in 2001 when he was given his first SLR camera. When he acquired a telephoto lens, he became progressively more interested in birds and other wildlife. Scott enjoys learning about bird habitats and behavior, striving always to take images that are both beautiful and interpretive. Scott believes photography is a great vehicle to help others to appreciate the wonder for the stuff of earth.
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