Orlando birding – lifers and quasi-lifers

Sandhill Cranes - Kissimmee

Over Thanksgiving, Justine and I headed down to the Orlando area with her family to check out Disney and enjoy some warm weather. As luck would have it, we stayed relatively close to Lake Tohopekaliga and I managed to slip down there several mornings for some birding. I was really hoping to pick up several life birds on the trip including Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Florida Scrub-Jay but unfortunately I was never in appropriate habitat for them. I also hoped to add several birds to my US list. I had previously seen Crested Caracara, Limpkin and Snail Kite in Central America but never in the US. Luckily for me, Snail Kites are seen at Lake Tohopekaliga and I was fortunate enough to see a juvenile two of the mornings I visited. Limpkins were pretty common at every wetland I visited and I got great views of them, even managing to get a photo of the Snail Kite and Limpkin in the same frame.

A surprise lifer for me was the Roseate Spoonbill. Over the last year, I have transferred all my sightings (or so I thought) to eBird and I now use it as my official list of what I have seen. Apparently the Roseate Spoonbill I saw in New Jersey several years ago or the spoonbills I saw along the Texas coast while on spring break never made it into eBird.

I posted some of my photos that I took, click on them to enlarge. They were all shot with my iPhone, some digiscoped through my binoculars. I have been very impressed with the shots I’ve been able to take with my phone, particularly since it means I don’t always have to tote around a camera if I want to document things. Some of the worst ones (Snail Kite and Loggerhead Shrike) were either very distant or taken from a car so I didn’t expect much from them.