Thursday, March 15, 2018

Yellow-breasted Chat

Thursday March 15th
The Ides of March

Yesterday Julie Long of Sanibel made a great find in a Yellow-breasted Chat feeding in a ficus tree at
Lakes Park located  near Ft Myers. The chat is a very rare find in our area, so very quickly, dozens of local birders have visited the spot. Many birders have gotten some pretty nice pics.

Catbirds were everywhere.

I got my notification about 10:30 yesterday morning and was on site within the hour.  I've been there twice so far, hoping for an acceptable photograph. On my second visit I was able to get a couple of pics.  Not perfect, but!!  The bird is only my second sighting, after getting my lifer last year at Sugden Park in Naples.
This Downy Woodpecker was busy in the ficus as well

Monday, March 12, 2018

Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Sunday March 11th
Spring has arrived with the blooming Blue Flag Iris

Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a very busy place these days.  Lots of snowbirds, winter residents and spring trading baseball fans are enjoying their visits here. Besides the bird life, the gators, otters and snakes are very popular.

Barred Owl
Part of the boardwalk has been closed to protect a pair of Barred Owls who have selected a nest tree within a few feet of the boardwalk. An Eastern Screech Owl has recently be seen using the nest box set up in the parking lot.

Limpkin opening an Apple Snail

And the Limpkin family, with its near adult sized babe, is also another favorite for the folks. The momma Limpkin made quite a fuss the other day when an otter dared to swim through the Limpkins` comfort zone. The adults are probably very defensive after losing there other chicks to predation by night-herons.

Seeing lots of Tree Herons, Black-crowned Night-herons, Anhingaa, Cormorants and Great Egrets are nesting at Gator Pond. Wood Ducks are being seen at Otter Pond. Short-tailed Hawks have been spotted soaring over head.

Tufted Titmouse

Palm Warbler
Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers are continuing, but will be heading north soon. Prairie, Black-and-White, Common Yellowthroat, Yellowthroated and Black-throated Green Warblers are commonly seen. A Northern Waterthrush has been observed  and is typically one of the earliest arriving species in Spring migration. And this pending migration will bring in more species in just a few weeks.

Palm Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Friday, February 23, 2018

Birding in Saraota County

Friday February 23rd

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher seen off Zemel Road in Charlotte County

Seems that there are can be days when birding can be very underwhelming for any number of reasons and days when the birding can be a lot of fun. Today's was a fun day.

The Purple Martin colony
is active at the Celery Fields

My plans this morning was to bird The Celery Fields and Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota County. 

Bronzed Cowbird seen at the Celery Field

But first, I retraced yesterday's visit at Babcock-Webb WMA, which was an underwhelming birding day. As I was passing Babcock-Webb, along I-75 in Charlotte County, it struck me that it was still possible to stake-out one of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker Colony as they would emerge from their nest holes. Had tried yesterday, but missed seeing any. As I was waiting Eastern Towhee, Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Meadowlark and Pine Warblers could be heard. Most interesting was hearing a Bachman's Sparrow sing. Didn't hear any Bachman's singing yesterday. As for the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, their morning exit was barely heard as a lone bird was calling far from the stake-out point. Now onto The Celery Fields.

Purple Gallinule

Arrived about 8:30 and found the venue to be a very busy place.  Lots of people here already. Was about to photograph the Purple Martins who are recent arrivals to the Purple Martin Nest Boxes. Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbirds were also active around the Nature Center. Purple Gallinules, Wilson's Snipes and a busy Sora were all easily seen from the boardwalks. 

Purple Gallinule

Sora seen from the boardwalk at The Celery Fields

Loggerhead Shrike

Green Heron

Mottled Duck. Most of these ducks seen here have been hybridized with mallards,

Spent only a bit over an hour here as I wanted to get over to Oscar Scherer State Park near Osprey. I was interested in spotting the lark sparrow and Blue Grosbeaks reported here. Arrived about 10:30. The birds in question had been reported along the Red Trail, which I found to be very quite.  Mostly Blue Jays were noticed in the open scrub oaks environment. But as I was retracing my steps back to my car I encountered a family of Florida Scrub Jays. Cool. As I am enjoying these birds the birding activity picked up. A Swallow-tailed Kite floated past and a Blue Grosbeak began singing. The grosbeak were being rather stealthy, but a trio of the birds were seen flying to cover. Even though the singing continued, I couldn't capture any photos. Didn't see the lark sparrow today

Florida Scrub Jay at Oscar Scherer State Park

One the way home I made one additional stop. Made another try at the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that can be seen along the western fence line of the trash dump off of Zemel Road in Charlotte County. The flycatcher was being quite cooperative today. Nice.

This was diffidently a fun birding day.  Some of the interesting ticks today included  Bachman's Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Towhee, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Florida Scrub Jays, Swallow-tailed Kite, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Northern Harriers, Purple Gallinule, Sora and FOS sightings of Purple Martins, Bronzed Cowbirds and Blue Grosbeaks.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Tuesday February 6th

Had some nice looks at Savannah and Grasshopper Sparrows today at Harns Marsh. They were active in the weedy berm located between the marsh and canal, north from the parking area

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows

Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Friday, January 26, 2018

Road Trip - Whooping Cranes

Tuesday January 16th

Today I'm wrapping up my Birding Road Trip with a couple of stops. Sebastian Inlet State Park and back to Backbone Road near Lake Wales.

Glaucous Gull

Sebastian Inlet had been hosting a Glaucous Gull, another rare visitor to Florida. And as I was pulling into a parking spot at Sebastian the Gull could be seen just a few feet away. Way easy..

And the Northern Gannets I missed yesterday were seen today just off the beach.  Other birds spotted here included Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Forster's Terns, Black Skimmers, Brown and American White Pelicans, Red-breasted Mergansers, Snowy Herons, White Ibis and Ruddy Turnstones.

Great Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Snowy Heron

Black Skimmer

Red-breasted Merganser
Ring-billed Gull

Lastly, another attempt to see the pair of Whooping Cranes in the cattle pastures along Backbone Road near Lake Wales. This time they were out in the open but rather far off. Disappointing for photography, but good to get to see them. Future observations of these birds are going to be iffy as the program to re-introduce the species as a viable, non-migratory population in Florida has been discontinued.

Bird List for the Road Trip - (147)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Snow Goose, Ross's Goose, Canada Goose, Muscovy Duck, Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Mallard, Mottled Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Wood Stork, Northern Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Sora, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Whooping Crane, American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Ruddy Turnstone, Ruff, Stilt Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Mourning Dove, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Merlin, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay,  American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Nuthatch, House Wren, Winter Wren, Sedge Wren, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Sprague's Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, Black-and-white Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle and House Sparrow.

Only Lifer seen was the Sprague's Pipit

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Road Trip - Lake Apopka

Monday January 15th

Flagler Beach
Headed east, today, toward the Atlantic Ocean at Flagler Beach for some sea watching. On past winter visits here, hundreds of Northern Gannets could be observed from shore.  Today's weather conditions included clear skies, but was chilly with a strong brisk wind causing a very heavy surf.  And there were no gannets. Made several stops between the Flagler Beach Pier and Gamble Rogers State Park along Highway 1A1. One observation at the Gamble Rogers over look was a distant Jaeger.  To far out to definitively say if it was a parasite or a pomarine jaeger.  Leaning toward Pomarine.

 My original plans included a stop at Lust Road at lake Apopka North Shore Mitigation Area. and perhaps some hiking within the property. The North Shore Mitigation Area is managed by the St Johns River Water Management District. The SJRWMD recently has opened an 11 mile Wildlife Drive which is only open to the public on week ends and federal holidays.

But today was a federal holiday so I was able to include entering and enjoying the Wildlife Drive. At the Lust Road Gate two, rare in Florida, species have been wintering.  A long-tailed duck has been using a water reclamation pond and an Ash-throated Flycatcher has been active in the area. Got the flycatcher but dipped on the duck. I don't think anyone reported the long-tailed duck today.

Lots of good birds today along the drive. Soras, Purple Gallinules, a beautiful male Vermilion Flycatcher, a Horned Grebe, lots of Pied-billed Grebes, Fulvious Whistling Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, American Bitterns, herons and egrets, Red-shouldered Hawks, Ospreys and Northern Harrier.

Lake Apopka Photo Gallery

Vermilion Flycatcher

Purple Gallinule

Common Gallinule

Palm Warbler

Green Heron
Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Managed to add one more venue before dark with a quick visit to Merritt Island NWR.

Only had time to visit Blackpoint Drive and found many Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, Coots, Hooded Mergansers, Northern Pintails Pied-billed Grebes and Roseate Spoonbills. Also added a Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers, a Merlin, Reddish Egrets, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis and Tree Swallows.
Northern Pintail