FLORIDA - OKEEHEELEE
Yesterday Kathi and I headed to Okeeheelee Park to hopefully finally end her quest for the elusive PAINTED BUNTING. Last year in Texas I had promised to produce one and had failed (although I did see one the week after she headed home!).
We arrived at the nature center around 9:30 am and found the feeder the buntings had been frequenting occupied by a surly RACCOON, several SQUIRRELS and some pesky BLUE JAYS. Another birder/photographer let us know that the buntings had been there about twenty minutes prior (ugh!).
After a tense wait of about twenty minutes a female PAINTED BUNTING appeared. Kathi was pleased but this was really not what we were there to see. Another twenty minutes and several failed attempts to deter the raccoon later, we could hear a number of bunting call notes as the flock of buntings approached. Suddenly two female painted buntings appeared, then Kathi spotted a stunning male PAINTED BUNTING sitting in the brush above the feeders.
Not long after the single male moved down to the ground at point blank range and began to feed. It was great to have such stunning views of this wonderful bird. The range of colours on the male is amazing.
Soon the ground was littered with buntings - we counted a minimum of 12 PAINTED BUNTINGS (4 males, 8 females) and four INDIGO BUNTINGS (two males and two females). Below is one of the male INDIGOS coming into full alternate (breeding) plumage.
After this fantastic start to the day we headed to IHOP for Kathi's favourite breakfast - German pancakes (not on the menu anymore but they still will make them!). Later we visited two other great sites - Peaceful Waters and Grassy Waters, but the buntings were definitely the highlight of the day!