Header Image: Lake Shore
When is the best time to go birding?
Early in the morning. Or – When the birds are feeding. Or – During migration. Or – Late in the day as they feed before roosting.
All of the above. None of the above. Any of the above.
My Dad was an avid fisherman. Tides, phase of the moon, time of day – all can influence when fish are more likely to be feeding. All things considered, Dad’s sage advice: “The best time to go fishing is when you have a chance to go fishing.”
The same is true of birding.
Sure, it would be wonderful to plan each trip down to the last detail. For a trip to some specific, perhaps distant venue, such planning is essential. However, for day-to-day bird watching, the best time to go is when you have a chance. Our lives can become so busy with jobs, family, appointments, shopping – it’s easy to become overwhelmed by life and forget that we need some balance to maintain our health and sanity.
Naturally, birding provides that balance!
So, there we were, innocently finishing a bowl of porridge adorned with fresh strawberries when we received word of a postponed appointment.
“Want to go for a ride?”
I know, it was already mid-morning. Yes, there’s a roast which needs a bit of preparation for dinner. Not to mention, we just visited our “patch” yesterday.
“I’ll load the car.”
I continue to marvel at my genius for marrying so well. Gini is not only my anchor in life, my motivation for making it through each day, my confidant, my best friend and lover. She can hear the birds.
Our birding patch is seven minutes from the front door. Tenoroc Fish Management Area consists of reclaimed phosphate mining land which has been designed as a fishing destination. In recent years, a shooting range, archery course and equestrian trails have been added. It is designated as a Gateway for the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
There are 19 miles of hiking trails here. They were in no danger of being overused by us on this day.
We only had a couple of hours available so we drove around the dirt roads and simply enjoyed being out in the sunshine and fresh air. A few birds begged to have a picture taken. How could we refuse? I think we only got out of the car once. Sometimes, this birding thing can almost be too easy!
Here are a few things we saw from the car.
Common Ground Dove, true to their name, love to forage on, you guessed it, “the ground”. They like open areas with a bit of grass and the edges of roads seem to fit that bill (and theirs) just fine.
One of our migratory visitors, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, has been provided with the nickname “Butterbutt” by some of the more academically inclined in the birding community.
This image was taken just after 10:30 a.m. It is a member of the morning glory family, so blooming “in the morning” appears totally understandable. Except, this is a Moonflower (Ipomoea alba), also called Tropical White Morning-glory. These flowers typically begin to open late in the day, bloom during the night and close once the sun rises. Indeed, this specimen is looking pretty ragged as it retreats from the sun. Most resources indicate the plant shouldn’t be blooming at all in January.
In our area, the Boat-tailed Grackle is quite common and the Common Grackle is usually not seen in great numbers. Tenoroc is one area we normally see at least a couple of the latter, noticeable by its bright pale eyes.
Winter brings good numbers of small Pied-billed Grebes to our lakes and ponds. Gini, having achieved the aforementioned status of more academic birder, prefers to call them by the lofty scientific moniker “Fuzzy Butts”.
Driving around a large open field which is maintained for fall dove hunting (sigh), utility poles make a convenient observation perch for the American Kestrel.
If you are an Eastern Bluebird, those Kestrel perches are just fine for tenderizing a big beetle.
So, there you are in the buffet line and there’s always that one guy who pushes his way in front of you to see what’s available today. Then, you get that uneasy feeling that perhaps YOU are the buffet item. Maybe we’ll just step over this way ……
Planning an outing is a very good idea and can help ensure a successful trip. Once in awhile, though, a spur-of-the-moment drive-by may be just the ticket to help recharge your soul’s batteries.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!