Friday, November 2, 2018


Friday, November 2nd

American Avocets at Bunche Beach

Cooler weather has arrived and the Snowbirds are arriving as well to beautiful Southwest Florida. Both the avian and human snowbirds. 

Pine Warbler

October can be a very fun time here for birders. We have the migration of  neo-tropic birds passing through from points to the North heading to points far to the South, But we do see some familiar migrating birds who'll stay with us for most of the Winter. So we have the best of the waning summer species, the migrants passing through and the incoming wintering bird populations. A good time of year

It is enjoyable to chase after these migrating birds who may only be stopping off for a day or two. Some are fairly common to find like the Summer Tanagers and Yellow-throated Vireos. Some are far more uncommon to find in Florida in the fall migration like Canada Warblers and Golden-winged Warblers.  I was lucky to find a Golden-winged Warbler this year, but the Canada Warbler was an evasive  sighting for me though.. I did have a few holes in my list this year like the Gray-cheeked Thrush and Kentucky and Blue winged Warblers.  I've dipped on the Blue winged Warbler for a few years now.

A Golden winged Warbler
 seen at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve
Some of birds we have seen passing through included Acadian Flycatchers, Least Flycatcher plus Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Ovenbirds, Tennessee, Hooded and other Warblers. Rose breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Wood-pewees, Swainson's Thrushes, Bobolinks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Pectoral Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers and more. 

Our wintering arrivals will continue making there here in the coming weeks, But recently we have seen many Gray Catbirds, House Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, Wilson's Snipes, American Bitterns, Northern Harries, Belted Kingfishers, American Kestrels, American White Pelicans, Yellowlegs, Peregrine Falcons, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers,  Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows. 

American Red Starts were a common migrant this fall, but a hard bird to photograph

Yellow throated Warblers have become numerous
Still expecting the later arriving waterfowl. Blue wing Teal are early arrivals and I did see my first of the season Ring neck Ducks today. Other species of ducks will arrive soon, plus Common Loons and Horned Grebes. Can also add Painted buntings, Red-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Swamp and Grasshopper Sparrows and more.

It appears that it may be harder to find Painted and Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches this season as the famous feeders we have all enjoyed at the Whites' residence in Alva are probably no more. As their property has been sold. 

Great Crested Flycatcher

Gray Catbird
Our wintering Shorebirds have already arrived from their breeding grounds. Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets, Marbled Godwits, Red Knots, Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Piping Plovers, Spotted Sandpipers, American Avocets. Plus the wintering gulls should be arriving in about a month. So enjoy the cooler weather and all these birds.
Red Knot. This fellow has lost its left foot.
Saw this scruffy Lark Sparrow out on Church Road

American White Pelican are returning

Bald Eagles are returning too

As are Double crested Cormorants

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Stormy Weather

Thursday October 11th

Hurricane Michael has been quite a powerful storm and bad news for residents of the Florida Panhandle. Luckily we were spared from Michael.  Just a bit of rain and wind.  We certainly did not want a repeat from what Hurricane Erma did to us a year ago. But any tropical storms during migration can effect the movement of birds such as pushing pelagics toward shore or creating a fall out.

White Ibis

Today I opted to head to Bunche Beach to take advantage of a low tide and to see if any interesting had been blown in. My most unexpected sighting happened before I had reached the shore. While passing through Cape Coral I was able to add a Coopers Hawk sitting along a busy road. But later, while I was waiting for the light to change at a busy intersection on Colonial Parkway in Ft Myers, I spotted the very long tail of a bird resting on the wires. Was pleasantly shocked to see that it was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Managed to pull over to try get better looks and noticed that the flycatcher was in the company of a trio of Gray Kingbirds and an Eastern Kingbird. They didn't hang around long enough for photography. I assume that the winds from Hurricane Michael had altered the movements of this small flock of flycatchers. Cha Ching! I also added a pair of Nanday Parakeets a few blocks over on Tufts Ave.

American Avocets at Bunche Beach

Red Knot
Got to Bunche Beach at low tide and had a nice visit.  Saw no evidence of the effects of red tide. No dead sea life on the beach. Lots of birds though.

Best sightings were a large number of Red Knots and American Avocets. Wading birds were missing though. Only a few White Ibis and a Yellow Crowned Night Heron. Missed on any Reddish Egrets. Suspect the algae blooms may have affected them.

Red Knot

Nice to see a Caspian Tern and a Forster's Tern sitting with a few Laughing Gulls, Brown 

Short-billed Dowitcher

Pelicans, Royal and Sandwich Terns. Other shorebirds busy on the shore and rooting through the wrack line included Piping, Black-bellied, Wilson's and Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderlings, Willets, Ruddy Turnstones, Least and Western Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers. Besides missing on the reddish egrets, I also missed on any spotted or snowy sandpipers.

Was a good day!!

Semi-palmate Plover

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Catbirds have Returned

Monday October 8th

Erect Dayflower
These warblers and other small birds can be very difficult  
for my photography skills. But wildflowers can be encouraged to pose

Finally, having a little fun with the Fall Migration as we move into October.

Numbers of migrants passing through on their way South have increased and many of our wintering visitors are showing.

 Heard my first of the season House Wren today and growing numbers of  Gray Catbirds have  arrived. Won't be long and our wintering Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers will everywhere. Along with Eastern Phoebes, American Kestrels, Blue headed Vireos and Savannah Sparrows.

The annual Sanibel Lighthouse Hawk Watch is scheduled for Sunday the 14th. Some years can be awesome, some have been a dud. I'm expecting good things this years with lots of Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons and maybe some Broad-winged Hawks or Sharp-shinned Hawks.  Sadly, due to my work schedule I wont be able to attend.

American Redstarts, as well as, Black-and-White Warblers
 have been frequently seen migrants

Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Rotary Park

Some recent personal firsts for the season included Tennessee Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Bay Breasted and Chestnut sided Warblers, Eastern Wood-pewee, Summer Tanagers, Least Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow billed Cuckoo.  Still lots of holes in my Fall Migration wish list like  a Blackburnian or a Canada Warbler.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Sunday September 30th

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

With the birding activity being so slow I had diverted my attentions to smaller wildlife activities. Namely learning about the Dragonflies and Butterflies we see around here.  To start off with, I have been a real beginner here, so I did find a bit of learning curve.  A good place to start learning is at the Butterfly Gardens and House at Rotary Park in Cape Coral.

The rare and endangered Atala Butterfly breed at Rotary Park

Southern White Butterfly

Pipevine Swallow-tailed Butterfly

Palamedes Swallow-tailed Butterfly 

Soldier Butterfly

Giant Swallow-tailed Butterfly

Eastern Pondhawk

Little Blue Dragonlet
I think this is a Scarlet Skimmer

Blue Dasher

Queen Butterfly

Band-winged Dragonfly

Eastern Amber winged Dragonfly

Long-tailed Skipper

White Peacock Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Fall Migration

Saturday September 29th
Whimbrel seen on Ft Myers Beach
Spring Migration in our corner of Florida has been quite slow so far. The variety of species being observed is as expected, however, we are only experiencing very small samplings. No real big push has really passed through yet. My personal best for September was the Least Flycatcher at Hammock Swamp and the Acadian Flycatcher at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve.  Today I had my first look at a Summer Tanager for the Fall. But all of the local venues have been quite spotty so far.

This Fox Squirrel was keeping an eye on things

My first-of-the-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

Acadian Flycatcher seen at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserved
In August the expected shorebirds had arrived. Sandpipers, godwits, dowitchers, plovers and such   But know by the end of  September the neo-tropic birds have been very 

Red Knot seen on Ft Myers Beach

Piping Plover seen on Ft Myers Beach
slow. There had been concerned about lost opportunities with the Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve boardwalk being closed for the first half of the month. But it turns out that this venue has been unexpecting so far, anyway. 

The season will last through the middle of October and hopefully we will be able to enjoy more bird activity.  

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bunche Beach

Wednesday August 15th

The First-of-the-Season, for me, Piping Plovers have returned to Bunche Beach
Spent a couple of hours at Bunche Beach Preserve this morning with a dual purpose. First was to look for returning shorebirds and was rewarded with finding nine Piping Plovers are back at Bunche.

Semipalmated Plover
 Timed my visit for a low tide today and encountered a nice variety of shorebirds. The numbers of returning shorebirds are increasing. Didn't encounter any Red Knots today, but on a visit two weeks was able to spot a few with the Short-billed Dowitchers.  Also seen today were Least Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-crowned Night-herons, Willets, Semipalmated Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, lots of White Ibis, Great Blue Herons and Ospreys
Marbled Godwits

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons

There were hundreds of small dragonflies, called Seaside Dragonlets, active on the beach.  In the past I would have ignored the bugs.

 But lately I've joined with so many of by birding friends in the photography and identification of butterflies and dragonflies to fill in the gap during the summer birding doldrums.  
Fish Crow

Seaside Dragonlet
Also a Seaside Dragonlet

Sea Grape

Red Tide Advisory posted at Bunche

The other purpose for my visit today was to see how the Red Tide Event, we are experiencing in Southwest Florida, was effecting this shoreline today. Unlike my visit here  on August 2nd, very little evidence of the terrible fish kill could be seen today.  There were a few small fish - mullets, sea trout, jacks, catfish.  But a large Southern Stingray was seen. 

 But this was nothing like what I had encountered on the 2nd, when there were hundreds of dead fish stinking up the beach. 

It was interesting to identify so many of species seen then The Red Tide fish kill had included mullets, marine catfish, several species of eel, cowfish, flounder, porcupine fish, a nurse shark, groupers including a goliath grouper, speckled sea trout, batfish, pompano and other jacks, spadefish, stingrays, parrotfish, tarpon and other stuff I couldn't identify.

Tons of these fish have been removed from beaches. Sadly very large numbers of sea turtles, including rare Ripley's Turtles have washed ashore. Many couldn't be saved. Other sea life are suffering as well including dolphins and manatees

So what is the cause for these terrible algae blooms in the Gulf,  Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River. People!!!

The Channelizing of the rivers, the diversion of water away from the Everglades, the Lake O dikes and the nutrient loading of our water sheds by agriculture. But the fertilizers we use to keep our lawns and golf courses so green and lush. And don't forget the contributions from thousands of septic systems. 

So what can be done? Well the people aren't going to be going away. But we'll have to pay Billions to undo all the damage to the environment created by former generations in their efforts to 'drain the swamp'.

Turns out we need the swamps. The water that is currently flushed from Lake O through the Caloosahatchee River and the  St Lucie Canal must be seriously reduced.  And the tainted waters of Lake O must be sent south instead. These waters need to pass through a much larger array of storm water treatment areas, that what already exists today, where the heavy nutrient loads can be filtered out and then sent further south through spreader canals,  instead of the straight channels used now. The tainted water entering Lake O, through the Kissimmee River will also need some type of treatment process to reduce its nutrient load contribution.  This is all very complex.  Restriction on land use, water drainage and fertilization may end up be required. But if the Ice Caps were to melt, all these problems go away.