A short respite is in order, for all of us who are tiring of endless snow and bad news in Ohio's forests. Strictly as educational nature therapy, I booked a trip to Florida and met up with birding buddy, Greg Miller.
Red-headed WoodpeckerIt was not long before he suggested birding in the big pines. Old Growth Forest in Florida? Count me in. The first half mile of the walk was filled with rambunctious Red-headed Woodpeckers. Six of 'em. Go ahead, throw me in the brier-patch.
Our location in the Ocala National Forest
As orientation, we were north of Orlando and west of Daytona. The Daytona 500 was going on, but the only races that interested us was seeing who could find the first rarity.
Pro-tip: take a photo of the map in the parking lot. I can't tell you how many times this has come in helpful, especially once you are away from the parking lot ... and lost. It also is a good way to document where you saw that magnificent life bird or plant.
The overview of piney woods habitat
|Bachman's Sparrow serenades from a deadwood perch.|
|Look for white bands painted on "nest trees".|
We were after another bird however, the elusive Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The pines marked as nest trees pulled us deeper into the woods. This is another bird I have tried to see, and missed, before.
|The towering Longleaf Pine|
|Greg Miller birds.|
|Once a Weedpicker...|
Let's make certain we provision them with enough habitat for future generations.