Tag Archives: Red-shouldered Hawk

5 Reasons to Attend the 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

The 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival runs from January 20th to the 25th and is held in Brevard County, Florida. Here is a list of 5 reason why I think you should attend!

1. The Birds – Obviously. The main reason birders go to festivals is to see birds and get as many lifers as possible. Merritt Island NWR (more below), Daytona Beach, and Viera Wetlands are among the more popular birding locations. Click on the photo and type Brevard County, FL into the Location box and learn more about the birding hotspots within a short drive of the festival headquarters. Here’s a list of birds seen during the 2015 festival.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

2. The Keynote Speakers – There’s an impressive lineup of Keynote Speakers for the 2016 festival, including Dr. Steven W. Kress of the National Audubon Society, Giff Beaton, a leading authority on Odonata and other fauna, James Currie of Birding Adventures TV,┬áKevin Karlson & Dale Rosselet, authors of the new Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds, and Steve N.G. Howell of WINGS. Read more about the speakers here.

3. The Field Trips & Workshops – There is an exhaustive list of field trips and workshops for this year’s festival, way too many to list here. I will say that there are a few digiscoping workshops, most discussing digiscoping with a DSLR, but one by Clay Taylor highlighting phonescoping! Read more about field trips here and workshops here.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

4. The Exhibit Center – This place is typically packed with visitors. Festival participants can try optics and gear before buying, talk with birding and wildlife tour leaders, and check out local artists’ work. Read more about the Exhibit Center here.

5. Merritt Island NWR – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is, hands-down, my favorite spot to bird in Brevard County. Black Point Wildlife Drive is an excellent place to photograph wading birds and ducks, Florida Scrub-Jays are “common” year-round, and Painted Buntings frequent the feeders at the Visitor’s Center. If you’re attending the festival, make sure you spend a AT LEAST one morning at Merritt Island!

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Registration for this year’s festival is open until 5 PM on January 15. You can register for the festival online. I’ll be at the festival working the Phone Skope booth and should be out in the field birding each morning. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be at the festival!

DOS Local Patch Birding Series – Newark Reservoir Trip Summary – December 5, 2015

Birders searching for avian life at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Birders searching for avian life at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

This morning, I was joined by nine birders for the DOS Local Patch Birding Series trip to the Newark Reservoir. The Newark Reservoir is located in the heart of Newark, Delaware and is surrounded by fragmented forest and urbanization. To this day, 154 species have been recorded at this eBird hotspot.

Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware - December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

The walk started off with Song and White-throated Sparrows sounding off, American Pipits flying over, and a Red-winged Blackbird singing as if it were on territory. As we walked the path around the side of the reservoir, we spotted a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk perched, in which all participants got excellent scope views.

Red-shouldered Hawk at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-shouldered Hawk at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We reached the top of the path and of course the Red-shouldered Hawk flew off, but we did catch up with it in-flight later in the walk. We were surprised and mildly bummed to only find nine Ring-billed Gulls and a lone Canada Goose on the water. Recently, there have been several hundred Canada Geese and a variety of other waterbirds, but waterbird diversity was not present today.

Ring-billed Gulls at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ring-billed Gulls at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Additional Ring-billed Gulls joined the crowd as we walked around the loop and seemed to pick up on a food source that was not apparent to us. The gulls eventually landed, allowing us to really study their plumage.

Ring-billed Gulls at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Ring-billed Gulls at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We were discussing ages of Ring-billed Gulls when Alan yelled, “Snow Bunting on the path!” I couldn’t believe it, a rarity for New Castle County and the first record for the reservoir! The bunting was a lifer for a few folks in the group, which made it an even more savory experience. Plus, the bird was extremely cooperative allowing for great scope views and photo and video opportunities.

Snow Bunting at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Snow Bunting at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Birders admiring the Snow Bunting at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Birders admiring the Snow Bunting at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Warning: This video contains three minutes of pure Snow Bunting cuteness. Soak it in.

After watching the Snow Bunting for ten minutes or so, we moved on to watch Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers fly from tree to tree and a few Canada Geese drop in for a visit.

Canada Geese at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Canada Geese at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

We also stumbled upon several flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos with a few White-throated, Chipping, and Song Sparrows mixed in. Eastern Bluebirds even made and appearance!

Birders checking out the Dark-eyed Junco flocks at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Birders checking out the Dark-eyed Junco flocks at the Newark Reservoir, Newark, Delaware on December 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

To round out the walk, I was telling a story about a Marsh Wren I found at the reservoir a few weeks ago and a Marsh Wren started scolding in the same exact spot! What are the chances of a wren stopping over in the same, small patch of cattails for over three weeks. Birds are awesome!

In the end, we spent two hours birding in calm, sunny conditions at the Newark Reservoir tallying at least 38 species (eBird Checklist). You never know what you will find if you visit a local patch over and over again. The Newark Reservoir is still my favorite birding spot in the state of Delaware. Check out the DOS Field Trip Schedule for upcoming trips to local and regional birding hotspots.