Monday, April 6, 2015

Work trip to Orlando

In early October I attended a conference for work in Orlando, Florida. On one day of the trip, there were a handful of outings for the attendees to choose from, and as you might have guessed, I chose the option that sounded like it had the most potential for birding: the airboat adventure courtesy of Wild Florida Airboats. Here’s how the company bills their trip:

“Travel deep into 100,000 acres of protected swamps, marshes and rivers that make up the Central Florida Everglades. Get an in depth look at the gators, birds, eagles, trees and plants that make up our beautiful wetlands. This is Natural Florida and Wild Florida at it’s best! We guarantee you won’t see any development, homes, or signs of human life. Come see how good it feels to be in the middle of nowhere.Includes free admission to our Wildlife park and hands-on alligator demonstration!”

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Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

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Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

I had mixed feelings on zipping through the swamp in a big noisy airboat – the birds obviously disliked the disturbance. We were flushing everything within 50 yards, and at some points there were birds directly in our path that we got pretty close to before they skittered out of our path.

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Airboats at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

I saw a nice mix of Florida birds typical of the marshy habitat. A Red-shouldered Hawk on a post out in the reeds kicked things off.

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Red-shouldered Hawk at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

There were loads of wading birds, with Great Egrets and Cattle Egrets dominating, but there were also a handful of Great Blue Herons and Tricolored Herons, plus a single Limpkin.

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Great Egret at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

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Cattle Egrets at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

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Cattle Egrets at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

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Cattle Egrets at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

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Great Blue Heron at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

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Tricolored Heron at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

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Limpkin at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

A couple of other good finds as we cruised around the swamp included a Boat-tailed Grackle, Turkey Vulture, and a Common Gallinule.

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Boat-tailed Grackle at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

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Turkey Vulture at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

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Common Gallinule at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

Last but not least, I couldn’t go home without seeing an Anhinga.

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Anhinga at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014. 

The trip promised views of alligators, although a couple of eyeballs sticking out of the water was the best we got.

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American Alligator at Cypress Lake, Lee County, Florida. October 2, 2014.

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