Friday, January 19, 2018

Road Trip - Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Friday January 19th

Friday the 12th was a very long day with stops in Gainesville and Tallahassee. Friends, David and Tammy McQuade had birded several of these locations just the day before and offered timely intel.

At daybreak, I was on the Hawthorne Trail near Payne's Prairie in Alachua County, were I had Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Tufted Titmouse, American Robins and Carolina Chickadee. 

Sweetwater Wetlands Park - Gainesville

A female Ruff, or Reeve, is a rare  visitor to the United States.
It's a shorebird
that breeds in Northern Eurasia and winters in Africa 

Sweetwater Wetlands Park was a very special venue in Gainesville. 

Purple Gallinules, Wilson's Snipes, American Bitterns, Soras, Long-billed Dowitchers and a very rare Ruff were all easily observed and photographed. Plenty of waterfowl including Buffleheads, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Ruddy Duck Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Mottled Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Lesser Scaup, Common Gallinules, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebe and  a Horned Grebe.

American Bittern

Purple Gallinule

Wilson's Snipe

Long-billed Dowitcher

Northern Shovelers
Other birds seen included Least Sandpipers, a Roseate Spoonbill, Limpkins, Cooper's Hawk, Savannah Sparrows, Red winged Blackbirds, Tree Swallows, Killdeers and all the expected waders.

Another interesting sighting were wild Cracker Horses that are a part of the free-range Payne's Prairie herd.

Lesser Scaup

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler


Ruddy Duck

Newman's Lake - West Trail - Alachua County

Instead of a visit to the La Chua Trail at Payne's Prairie State Park, I had switched to a new venue recommended by David and Tammy McQuade.  They had a great sparrow experience  on Thursday. Lincoln's, Grasshopper, White-crowned, Vesper, Savannah, and Swamp Sparrows, plus a Golden-crowned Kinglet. 

I didn't do as well as Dave and Tammy, but did add Savannah, White-crowned and Swamp Sparrows

Had to move along as the expected rain had arrived.  So onto Tallahassee.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Road Trip

Thursday January 18th
Didn't see the bison at Payne's Prairie
this trip but did spot this herd at the
Three Suns Ranch along SR 31
in Charlotte County

Began the year with a birding road trip to the Panhandle and North Florida. Visited birding hotspots from Lake Wales to Apalachicola to Tallahassee to Merritt Island and Sebastian Inlet. The weather was rather cold for Florida, but was such a nice change from the norm. Picked up about 150 species including a Lifer in a Sprague's Pipit. Dipped on a few I was looking for though.

Had started out from Fort Myers on Thursday the 11th making stops at the Punta Gorda Airport Pond ( Long-billed Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpiper, Least Sandpipers), Ackerman Park in Sarasota ( Ring-necked Ducks ) and a short visit the Celery Fields. Missed the bronzed cowbirds there. 

Ring-necked Duck at Ackerman Park
Common Ground Dove at the Celery Fields feeders

Limpkins and a Snail Kite were spotted along the highway as well. On Backbone Road near Lake Wales a stop was made for the pair of Whooping Cranes known to use these pastures.  However, I was informed by a group already on site that the birds had walked out of sight. Got an American  Bittern though before heading on to Gainesville.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Year in Review

December 31, 2017

Stayed busy this year, going out everyday looking for interesting birds. Filed at least one report to eBird very single day this year.  Including during Hurricane Irma. I enjoy birding and have made many friends and acquaintances out there looking for birds.  I have also been improving my photography. Got a long way to go yet to master getting that great shot.

White-crowned Pigeon seen at Ding Darling

The past year was spent mostly birding the local scene. Not many trips away from home. So my year list is shorter than in former years

Did have a couple of days in Tennessee including time spent in the Smokes along the Appalachian Trail. On that trip was able to see Common Ravens, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos and Field Sparrows, which are species very uncommon to Ft Myers. Did venture to the Keys in April looking for Spring migrants and Florida Keys specialties like Antillean Nighthawk, Roseate Tern, Black-whiskered Vireo, White-crowned Pigeon and Golden Yellow Warbler.

 Only pelagic trip was back in January with the kind invitation to join David and Tammy McQuaid on their boat to explore the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Lee County. We had mostly in-shore like Northern Gannets, Redhead Ducks, Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Red breasted Mergansers. But we actually dipped on the expected pelagics on this trip , like bridled terns. It could be speculated that water quality or lack of adequate food may have been a factor at the time,

Some of the better sighting included a rare or hard to find in Florida including White-fronted Goose, a Saltmarsh Sparrow, a pair of Brants, a rare to Lee County Wilson's Phalarope, a Smooth-billed Ani at Fort DeSoto, a Red-breasted Nuthatch in Pinellas County and Bronzed Cowbirds.

What did I miss? Well I dipped, again, on one of my nemesis birds, the Bahama Mockingbird, down in the Keys.

Missed a few other interesting birds by not going on the chase.  Like the Tropical Mockingbird and Least Grebe on the East Coast. Right now we have a confirmed a rare Loggerhead Kingbird over in Miami.

As for Lifers seen in 2017, only one.  Blue and Yellow Macaws in Coral Gables.

Year List 2017 (268) and Gallery

1    Gray Catbird

2    Carolina Wren

3    House Wren

4    Wood Duck

5    Great Blue Heron

6    Red-shouldered Hawk

7    Boat-tailed Grackle

8    Hooded Merganser

9    Little Blue Heron

10   Brant

11  Black Scoter

12  Magnificent Frigatebird

13 Double-Crested Cormorant

14  American White Pelican

15  Brown Pelican

16  Great Egret

17  Snowy Egret

18  Tricolored Heron

19  Reddish Egret

20  White Ibis

21  Turkey Vulture

22  Osprey

23  Bald Eagle

24  Black-bellied Plover

25  Semipalmated Plover

26  Piping Plover

27  Marbled Godwit

28  Red Knot

29  Sanderling

30  Dunlin

31  Least Sandpiper

32  Western Sandpiper

33 Short-billed Dowitcher

34 Spotted Sandpiper

35  Willet

36  Laughing Gull

37 Ring-billed Gull

38  Forster's Tern

39 Royal Tern

40  Sandwich Tern

41 Black Skimmer

42  Eurasian Collared-Dove

43  Belted Kingfisher

44 American Kestrel

45  Eastern Phoebe

46  Fish Crow

47  Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

48   Eurasian Starling

49   Killdeer

50   Muscovy

51  Common Grackle

52  Red-winged Blackbird

53  Swamp Sparrow

54   Savannah Sparrow

55   Palm Warbler

56   American Robin

57   Tree Swallow

58   Pileated Woodpecker

59   Mourning Dove

60   Sandhill Crane

61   Limpkin

62   American Coot

63   Common Gallinule

64   Gray-headed Swamphen

65   Purple Gallinule

66   Northern Harrier

67   Snail Kite

68   Black Vulture

69   Glossy Ibis

70   Cattle Egret

71   Least Bittern

72   Anhinga

73   Pied-billed Grebe

74   Ring-necked Ducks

75  Blue-winged Teal

76   Mottled Duck

77   Black-bellied-whistling Duck

78   Northern Mockingbird

79   Florida Scrub Jay

80   Blue Jay

81   Crested Caracara

82   Greater Yellowlegs

83   Lesser Yellowlegs

84   Roseate Spoonbill

85   Sharp-shinned Hawk

86   Northern Cardinal

87   American Crow

88   Loggerhead Shrike

89   Red-bellied Woodpecker

90   Common Yellowthroat

91   Red-headed Woodpecker

92   Great Horned Owl

93   Monk Parakeet

94   Nanday Parakeet

95   House Sparrow

96   Brown-headed Cowbird

97   Eastern Meadowlark

98   Yellow-rumped Warbler

99   Black-crowned Night-heron

100  Wood Stork

101   Rock Pigeon

102   Common Tern

103   Herring Gull

104   Yellow-crowned Night-herons

105   Barred Owl

106   Tufted Titmouse

107   Blue-headed Vireo

108  American Goldfinch

109  Eastern Bluebird

110  Eastern Whip-poor-will

111  Black-throated Green Warbler

112  White-eyed Vireo

113  Black-and-White Warbler

114  Northern Shoveler

115  Long-billed Dowitcher

116  Lesser Scaup

117  Burrowing Owl

118  Cooper's Hawk

119  Wilson's Plover 

120  Ruddy Turnstone

121  Saltmarsh Sparrow 

122  Green-winged Teal 

123  American Avocet 

124  Short-tailed Hawk

125  Peregrine Falcon

126  Caspian Tern

127  Snowy Plover

128  Common Loon 

129  Merlin

130  Wild Turkey

131  Common Ground Dove

132  White-winged Dove

133  Eastern Towhee

134  Indigo Bunting

135  Painted Bunting

136  American Wigeon

137  American Bittern

138  American Oystercatcher

139  Red-breasted Merganser

140  Horned Grebe

141 Northern Gannet

142 Redhead

143  Smooth-billed Ani 

144  Lark Sparrow

145  Red-tailed Hawk

146 Downy Woodpecker

147  Green Heron

148  Pine Warbler

149  Prairie Warbler

150  King Rail

151  Marsh Wren

152  Northern Flicker

153  Hairy Woodpecker

154  Grasshopper Sparrow

155  Vesper Sparrow

156  Stilt Sandpiper

157  Wilson's Snipe

158 Great-crested Flycatcher 

159  Purple Martin

160 Yellow-throated Warbler

161  Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

162  Brown-headed Nuthatch 

163  Brown Thrasher

164  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

165  Ruddy Duck

166  Baltimore Oriole

167  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

168  Orange-crowned Warbler

169  Mangrove Cuckoo

170  Northern Parula

171 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

172 Northern Waterthrush

173 Sedge Wren

174  Rose-breasted Grosbeak

175 Swallow-tailed Kite

176 Lesser Black-backed Gull

177 Black-necked Stilt

178 Barn Swallow

179 Ovenbird

180 Northern Bobwhite

181 Bachman's Sparrow

182 Sora

183 Summer Tanager

184 Hermit Thrush

185 Cedar Waxwing

186 Chuck-wills-Widow

187 Eastern Screech Owl

188 Wood Thrush

189 Solitary Sandpiper

190 Least Tern

191 Gray Kingbird

192 Western Kingbird

193 Eastern Kingbird

194 Chimney Swift

195 Red-eyed Vireo

196 Whimbrel

197 Semipalmated Sandpiper

198 Northern Rough-winged Swallow

199 Hooded Warbler

200 Blackpoll Warbler

201 Cape May Warbler

202 Brown Booby

203 Canada Goose

204 Carolina Chickadee

205 House Finch

206 Louisiana Waterthrush

207 Prothonotary Warbler

208 Tennessee Warbler

209 Worm-eating Warbler

210 American Redstart

211 Black-throated Blue Warbler

212 Egyptian Goose

213 Mitred Parakeet

214 Scaly-headed Parrot

215 Blue and Yellow Macaw

216 Red-masked Parakeet

217 Common Myna

218 Barn Owl

219 Common Nighthawk

220 White-crowned Pigeon

221 Black-whispered Vireo

222 Yellow-billed Cuckoo

223 Dickcissel

224 Antillean Nighthawk

225 Roseate Tern

226 Yellow Warbler
Golden Yellow Warbler - subspecies

227 Tropical Kingbird

228 Common Hill Myna

229 Cave Swallow

230 Yellow-chevroned Parakeet

231 Scarlet Tanager

232 Blue Grosbeak

233 Chestnut sided Warbler

234 Magnolia Warbler

235 Bobolink

236 Swainson's Thrush

237 Yellow throated Vireo

238 White rumped Sandpiper

239 Pectoral Sandpiper

240 Blue-Crowned Parakeet

241 Bank Swallow

242 Cliff Swallow

243 Gull-Billed Tern

244 Black Tern

245 Upland Sandpiper

246 Eastern Wood-Pewee

247 Acadian Flycatcher

248 Wilson's Phalarope

249 Broad-winged Hawk

250 Blackburnian Warbler

251 Mallard

252 Red breasted Nuthatch 

253 Ruby crowned Kinglet

254 Dark eyed Junco

255 Common Ravens

256 Golden crowned Kinglet

257 Song Sparrow

258 Field Sparrow

259 Veery

260 Gray-cheeked Thrush

261 Greater White-fronted Goose

262 Canvasback

263 White-crowned Sparrow

264 Gadwall

265 Clapper Rail

266 Northern Pintail

267 Greater Scaup 

268 Bronzed Cowbird