Three Weeks Birding in Florida: Part One - Disney.

The state of Florida is an excellent destination for British birders - especially in the Winter months when temperatures are lower and many wintering species are also available to be viewed and photographed. However, the idea that a keen birder might spend a week tramping around the Disney Parks as part of a birding holiday might seem a tad odd...

The fact is, of course, that some of us have absolutely NO intention of growing-up and we might even like the occasional ride! Furthermore, there are some pretty exotic species to be seen in the parks - 


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Well, OK then - perhaps a bit more justification might be necessary if a GRUMPY parent needs convincing...

We chose to stay at The Port Orleans Riverside Resort this trip as it offers the prospect of some river views and forested areas as wells being well-connected to the parks by the internal bus service. The Sassagoula River was just a few yards outside our hotel room and provided the habitat required by several of the Florida birds that have learned to live alongside mankind such as the ubiquitous White Ibis and Green Heron.

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White Ibis on the lawns.

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Green Heron on the Sassagoula River.
The trees around the paths connecting hotel-rooms, bus-stops and eating-places also provide plenty of shelter and food for some of the iconic species of the area such as the stunningly-beautiful Northern Cardinal and the tuneful Brown Thrasher.



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Male northern Cardinal.

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Brown Thrasher singing from a tree-top.
It is also perhaps worth pointing-out to the birder unfamiliar with this part of America that many trees here are deciduous and the reduced leaf cover certainly improves the chance of getting a clear view of the bird! This is particularly true when trying to photograph the elegant Eastern Phoebe as it catches insect from a favourite perch much as our own Flycatchers or the many tiny warblers that provide hours of fun with the bird book later...


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Eastern Phoebe - a flycatcher.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Of course, here and throughout the parks the Grackle can be seen and heard in large numbers and Ringed-billed Gulls are also plentiful where-ever food may be dropped...

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It is not just the expected scavengers that will be seen hoping for scraps from careless humans however; the majestic Great Egret (here in full high-breeding plumage) will happily stoop to such tactics was well around the parks -



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A Great Egret in full breeding plumage waits for the next piece of sausage...
Readers will be aware that I have a weakness for steam as well so the will not be surprised to see a photograph of the beautiful (authentic!) paddle steamer to be found in Magic Kingdom - well worth a look - the Belted Kingfisher was an extra treat!

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As always, clicking on any of the above images will provide larger views and the chance to look at some other photographs taken around the Disney Parks during 5 days.

Next - GATORLAND - a remarkable spot for up-close birding - and a few scary snakes....

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