PictureCattle Egret at La Chua Trail
For our next birding trip, we decided to go back to a reliable birding and wildlife place - Payne's Prairie in Gainesville, Florida.  In addition to birds, they also have a herd of bison as well as a herd of wild horses.  We didn't see either on this trip (but we really weren't looking for them, so not too disappointed there).  We did spot a few new birds and got some better shots of some of the ones we already had.  On this trip, I did get to add a White Crowned Sparrow to my life list, so this is starting out to be a great birding year.  Maybe this year I'll practice that patience and sit quietly for hours waiting for the birds so I can get those rare ones or that perfect shot of the ones I may already have - naaaahhh!  Not happening yet - maybe next time.  I can only sit still for 20 minutes and then it's off to the next spot.  Maybe when I retire :)

My husband and I started this year out the same way we have for the last couple of years - hitting the birding hotspots in Florida.  The upgraded website ebird.org is an absolute must for any birder.  We always hit their site before we take off to see what we might spot.  I had been hearing about Snowy Owl spottings recently in Florida at Little Talbot Island.  According to bioligist with Cornnel, this could be the largest migration south for these birds in the last thirty years.  We may never get another opportunity, so we decided to see if we could spot one.  We got there right as the park was opening, and went straight to the dunes identified on ebird as the site of the sightings and sure enough - we sited it!!  Very exciting!  Okay, you get the picutre.  We shared the dunes with several other early morning photographers - all of us staying well back from the owl to ensure she wasn't disturbed.  After that, we took a few more shots of others shore birds, then decided to hit Ft. Clinch State Park,  Once again, we hit the bird jackpot - someone had seen a Harlequin Duck which was another species we'd never seen.  We did manage to spot it with the help of a very nice fella with a scope, but it was too far away for the shots to show anything.  I did manage though to capture a Black Scoter - again a new species for me.