Friday, October 14, 2016

Snow Birds are Arriving

Friday October 14th

As our Fall Migration experience begins to wan, we are welcoming the arrival of our wintering snow birds.  Not just the retires fleeing the pending cold and snow, but those bird species that arrive here for the same reason.

Some of this week's Birding

Brown-headed Nuthatch at Babcock-Webb

As a change from watching for migrating passerines, I spent a couple days looking for some of our resident species. Last Monday, after completing a doctor's appoint in Cape Coral, I sought the Cape's more special species.  

Eastern Meadowlark at Festival Park

Florida Scrub Jay at Festival Park
Namely the Florida Scrub Jays at the Festival Park Neighborhood where a large and unexpected covey of Northern Bobwhites was flushed. And then the Burrowing Owls and Monk Parakeets at the ball fields on Pelican Boulevard. Nearby Rotary Park as been a hot spot this season, but was very quite on a short visit.

Loggerhead Shrike
On Tuesday, visited Babcock-Webb WMA in Charlotte County. Arrived at sunrise at the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Colony on Oil-Well Grade. This location has been disappointing lately as it appears that this woodpecker cluster has dropped to a single RCW. Today this individual could be heard as it exited his hole, but immediately flew away from my direction. Eastern Towhees,  and Eastern Meadowlarks were very quite and few were encountered. No Bobwhites, Brown Thrashers or Sandhill Cranes were head or seen. Did see and hear several newly arrived House Wrens. Got nice views of a couple of Brown-headed Nuthatches and spotted both a Northern Harrier and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Palm and Pine Warbles were everywhere as well as Common Warblers, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds and Belted Kingfishers.
Burrowing Owl at Pelican Blvd Ball Fields

Red-shouldered Hawk at Rotary Park
From Babcock, I spent a few minutes to check-out the pond located in a pasture just south of the Punta Gorda Airport, that can sometimes host some very nice bids.  Today only found a few Mottled Ducks, a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Western Sandpiper
Mottled Duck

Then on to check-out Kiwanis Park in Port Charlotte. This venue had recently hosted some coveted migrants, including rare in peninsular Florida, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Black-billed Cuckoo and Golden-winged Warbler.  But I failed to get here in time to see these species, (had to work) before favorable winds arrived to push these guys across the Gulf of Mexico as they trek south. arriving about noon, the park was quite. few species on hand. Did sight my FOS Eastern Phoebe, an American Redstart and a family of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. I had never been here before, but will add it to my stops in the future. 

Northern Flicker at Babcock-Webb

Wintering Birds are Arriving

Most all of the expected shorebirds seen wintering at Bunche Beach, save Dunlins and wintering gull species, are on hand. Elsewhere, we're seeing the numbers of Palm Warblers growing and Eastern Phoebes, Common Yellow-throats, Pied-billed Grebes, Tree Swallows, Northern Harriers  and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are just arriving. as well. Still waiting on the arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Gater at Babcock-Webb

Eastern Phoebe at Kiwanis Park in Port Charlotte

Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Kiwanis Park
So too will be the arrival of wintering waterfowl. Blue-winged Teal are already here and in the weeks ahead we'll see Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups and Northern Shovelers. Even later we'll see Red-breasted Mergansers, Horned Grebes, Common Loons, Gadwall, Ruddy Ducks and hopefully a couple of Snow Geese.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Birding in September

Tuesday, October 2nd


The Birding this September along the boardwalk at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve has been quite rewarding. Were not seeing any great fall-outs, but there has been a steady movement of birds passing through. Acadian Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-Pewees are seen almost daily. But perhaps one those Black-billed Cuckoos or Yellow-bellied Flycatchers or a Philadelphia Vireo may yet stop by. They are unusual sightings along the Florida peninsula, but are being reported at migrant hotspot to our North.

One recently seen, but infrequent species to observe here were multiple sighting of  a couple of Canada Warblers. 

Baltimore Oriole
Photo courtesy of Tammy 
The earlier arriving species like Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes have been passing through as have Ovenbirds, 
Black-and-White Warblers,
Yellow Warblers, 
Worm-eating Warblers, 
Summer Tanagers, 
Yellow-throated Vireos, 
Red-eyed Vireos,
Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 
Hooded Warblers, 
Northern Parulas, 
Prairie Warbler, 
Yellow-throated Warblers and 
Prothonotary Warblers. 
The Prothonotary Warblers were seen in very good numbers in August, but have become uncommon lately. 

Louisiana Waterthrush
We're now enjoying sightings of Blackburnian Warblers, 
Tennessee Warblers, 
American Redstarts, 
Swainson's Thrush, 
Coopers Hawk, 
Baltimore Orioles, 
Blue-winged Warbler, 
Bay-breasted Warbler, 
Chestnut-sided Warbler, 
Black-throated Blue Warbler, 
Black-throated Green Warbler, 
Magnolia Warbler, 
Pine Warbler and Palm Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Eastern Wood Pewee

Canada Warbler
But perhaps one those Black-billed Cuckoos or Yellow-bellied Flycatchers or a Philadelphia Vireo may yet stop by. They are unusual sightings along the Florida peninsula, but are being reported at migrant hotspots to our North. 

American Redstart
This Bobolink was photographed at Harns Marsh,
but they can heard as they fly over Six-mile

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ft Myers Beach

Monday, September 12th
American Avocets at Carlos Point

This week the boardwalk at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve is closed for maintenance. In August, September and October Six-mile is the default location for fall migration birding. Normally I'd be heading there almost on a daily basis in search of interesting birds, but not today.
Only birds seen in the mangroves were a
 Little Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret.

Instead I birded Bowditch Point Park at the northern tip of Ft Myers Beach, then onto Carlos Point at the southern end of Ft Myers Beach. 

At Bowditch I was interested in any migrants that may resting in the mangroves, but the action was on the beach with the expected Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, Pelicans, Black Skimmers and Sanderlings. Several late Least Terns and a Forster's Tern were present along with a few Semipalmated Plovers and a Piping Plover
Forster's Tern

Black Skimmers


As I was still interested in locating Oystercatchers so headed to the southern end of Ft Myers Beach and was rewarded with plenty of bird life. Had watched the wires along Estero Boulevard on the drive here looking for any lingering gray kingbirds. No kingbirds, but a couple of Magnificent Frigatebirds were seen soaring over head.

A bathing Piping Plover
So much of the bird life on the beach at Carlos Point were there to scavenge the sea life tossed ashore during the recent tropical storm 
that passed through last week. Dozens of American Oystercatchers and a very large contingent of Ruddy Turnstones were rooting through the detritus. Also present were dozens of Black-bellied Plovers, Brown Pelicans, Western Sandpipers, Sanderling, Willets, Marble Godwits, a few Royal and Sandwich Terns, a lone Least Tern, some Wilson's and Snowy Plovers

Least Tern
Black-bellied Plover

American Oystercatcher
The best birds on the day were a dozen American Avocets sitting in the tidal pool with a couple of Reddish Egrets and a Great Blue Heron, Willets, Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers and a few peeps.

American Oystercatcher tagged - CRA 29
According to Lindsey Addison at American Oystercatcher Working Group
with Audubon, this is bird 1106-29138. 
First captured and tagged at Ft Fisher State Recreation Area in North Carolina.
 It spent last winter here at  Estero Lagoon and has returned for another winter season.

The pool cleared out when a Cooper's Hawk appeared over head, and the Avocets flew off towards Lovers Key.
American Avocets

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sawgrass Lake

Tuesday, September 6th

Blackburnian Warbler

Joined with Bob Pelkey to visit a venue neither of us had ever visited. Reports of some hard to find, migrating warblers in SW Florida were intriguing, so we arrived at Sawgrass Lake Park in St Petersburg about 7:15 AM to do some birding.

 Canada, Cerulean, Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers were among migrates seen here just yesterday.  Bob and I managed to see a brief view of a female Cerulean Warbler, but we dipped on the rest today. Just the same we had twelve warbler species - Worm-Eating, Black-and-White, Prothonotary, Hooded, American Redstart, Cerulean, Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Yellow-throated and Prairie Warblers. Other interesting birds today included a Limpkin, White Ibis, Red-shouldered Hawks, 
Chimney Swifts, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Summer Tanager and  Nanday Parakeets.

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Blackburnian Warbler

Common Gallinule

Florida Gar

Water Primrose

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Migration

Tuesday August 30th

Red-shouldered Hawk on the hunt

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The past couple of days the migrant activity at Six-mile has really cooled off. For most of the past month the birding has been pretty good. Prothonotary were probably among the most commonly seen warblers along with Northern Parulas, Prairie Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers, American Redstarts, Black-and-White Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, hooded Warblers and a few Common Yellowthroats. Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been seen daily as are Great Crested Flycatchers. A few Eastern Wood-pewees have around and an Acadian Flycatcher was present for a couple of days too. White-eyed Vireos are heard in the parking lot in the early mornings.  Red-eyed Vireos have been common, as have been Yellow-throated Vireos. Just yesterday at Black-whiskered Vireo was photographed here.

This Brown Cuban Anole is not bothered by the
 Prothonotary Warbler gleaning its cypress tree
The expected resident birds also continue to entertain including the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Red-tailed Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Prothonotary Warbler

Black-and White Warbler

White-eyed Vireo
Red-bellied Woodpecker sporting a bright red breeding plumage

Downy Woodpeckers are year-round residents to the slough

Eastern Swallowtail are commonly seen butterflies
 in the slough this time of year

As are Eastern Black Swallowtails

and Viceroy