Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lots of Pectorals

Sunday August 13th

Pectoral Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs
Don't have to to travel very far to look for migrating shorebirds.  Still need to head over to the Ag Fields again and soon, for Upland Sandpipers or even the mega rare Ruff currently being seen. But in a nearby wet field, located along Treeline Avenue and adjacent to the Terminal Access Drive, we've had a large number of foraging Pectoral Sandpipers. Stilt Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers, Western and Least Sandpipers have also been present.

A scope can be very useful here.

Parking at this location can be a problem, as there are few spots to safely pull over. Avoid using the median as the property is adjacent to the Ft Myers International Airport it is closely monitored by the Port Authority Police. You will be ticketed.

A Lesser Yellowlegs

Semipalmated Plover

Western Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Friday, August 4, 2017

Piping Plovers Have Returned

Friday August 4th

Piping Plover

Yesterday I headed out to Bunche Beach on a low tide to look for Piping Plovers. They should be returning here from there breeding grounds in the Mid-West. The plovers who winter in our area have been tracked from nesting areas around Lake Michigan and from along the Missouri River, leaving here in May and returning in early August.

Not a great many shore birds were present on the mud flats, but a nice variety. Did find my FOS Piping Plovers. 

Other Birds of the Day

Red Knot

Snowy Plover

Western Sandpiper

Wilson's Plover

Short-billed Dowitcher

Spotted Sandpiper

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Ag Fields

Monday July 31st

Gull-billed Tern
Today, Tropical Storm Emily has formed in the Gulf and is dumping rain on us. But yesterday I drove out to the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Belle Glade in Palm Beach County. The Ag Fields is an area south of Lake Okeechobee known for growing sugar cane, rice and sod farms. In late Fall the Ag Fields hosts migrating shore birds, terns, swallows and grass peeps.

The purposeful flooding of finished cane fields to kill off the nematodes that damage the sugar cane,  can be a mecca for these migrating birds. It is early yet to make these trips to the area, but there were birds to be seen.  Not a lot of birds yet though. Give it a couple of weeks.
Pectoral Sandpiper

What was found, at the only flooded fields encountered, at the junction of Rt 880 and Browns Farm Road, were several family groups of Black-necked Stilts, several Gull-billed Terns, Least Terns, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitchers (not sure if they were short-billed or long-billed), Pectoral, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, Killdeer and a few Laughing Gulls. It shouldn't be long till numbers  and variety increase. Will be looking for Black Terns, White Pelicans, Wilson's Phalaropes, Stilt Sandpipers and Avocets and tons of waders.
Gull-billed Tern

The sod fields were devoid of activity.  The Upland Sandpipers have been here this early in the past, but they'll probably show by mid-August.

Other interesting sightings on the day included numbers of Barn Swallows with a few Cliff and Bank Swallows, Purple Martins, a lone Tree Swallow, Bobwhites, Meadowlarks, Common Nighthawks and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Best sighting of the day was a Barn Owl flying along Boles Canal, and the most interesting sighting was spotting a pair of Common Mynas at the parking lot at the BK restaurant in Belle Glade.

Hopeful, Ill be able to return in two or three weeks.

Barn Swallow

Spotted Sandpiper

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt Chick

Northern Bobwhite

A very young Red-tailed Hawk

A young Red-shouldered Hawk

Least Tern

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tropical Kingbird

Sunday July 23rd

Tropical Kingbird in Sarasota
Today I ran up to Sarasota to look for the breeding Tropical Kingbird. As in past years it was located behind the shops at St Armands Circle.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
are becoming quite common

But my first stop of the day was at the Celery Fields off of Fruitville Road in Sarasota.  Arrived at dawn.  Found the expected species including Barn Swallows, Purple Gallinules, Black-belled Whistling-Ducks, Purple Martins, Nanday Parakeets and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Then onto St Armands Circle. Started out with large flock of foraging Fish Crows. Gray Kingbirds were calling and after some searching I did locate the Tropical Kingbird.  Other sightings included Chimney Swifts, Eurasian-collared Doves and House Finch.

Tropical Kingbird

Gray Kingbird

House Finch

Went onto check the beach (access #5) on Siesta Key, but not much to really see there. So I added an extra stop to head north to Anna Maria Island to look for any Blue-Crowned Parakeets.  Which I did find. A small flock was observed in the parking lot of the Manatee County Beach Park.

Blue-crowned Parakeet

Least Sandpiper

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

So Quiet

Monday July 10th

Fish Crow seen at Bowditch Point Park
It'll be a few weeks yet till the birding picks up around here. There are a few interesting birds to chase around the state like in Ft Lauderdale (Tropical Mockingbird), Sarasota (Tropical Kingbirds), Clewiston ( Shiny Cowbird) or Lake Apopka (Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Mississippi Kites, Bronze Cowbird). 

But for now we'll have to wait till the end of the month for the early arrives.

Snowy Plover seen at Bowditch Point
Currently the Least Tern and Black Skimmers colonies on Ft Myers Beach are continuing their nesting. Earlier today I had ran into Meg Rausher, who is employed to monitor these colonies. Meg shared that the breeding colonies of Least Terns, Black Skimmers, Snowy Plovers and Wilson's Plovers took a hit last month from the heavy rains and flooding surfs. Eggs and hatchlings were lost. Some of the Least Terns gave up and left the site, many others are re-nesting. Lets hope for the best.

According to the Turtle Time web site, no sea turtle nest were lost.

Least Tern seen at Carlos Point

Nanday Parakeet seen in Ft Myers

Marbled Godwit seen at Bunche Beach Preserve

Burrowing Owl seen at the ball fields at Cape Coral

A small gator seen at
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Water is Rising

Sunday June 18th

I hadn't planned on walking the four miles around the north cell at Harns Marsh, but the weather was tolerable. Not terribly hot, not very buggy, there was a nice breeze and its not raining.

Sandhill Crane at Harns Marsh

Harns Marsh is operated as a storm water retention facility by the East County Water Control District to control flooding in the area. Just a few weeks ago the marsh along with this entire region  of Florida were suffering from drought conditions. Most all of the wetlands here had dried out.  Drainage ditches had dried out and were populated with vultures working over the remains of the many dead fish left behind. These conditions were also bad on the wildlife depending on these wetlands Limpkins and many other wading birds have been concentrating at the few wet holes still remaining. Species like the gray-headed swamphens and purple gallinules have disappeared.

Brownheaded Cowbird seen at Harns Marsh

But the rains have arrived.  Heavy rains.  Lots of water. Lots of sheet flow. All of these dried out canals, lakes and wetlands are now full.  Very Full. Today the water levels are too high and moving too swiftly at Harns Marsh for the wading birds. But today I'm walking the four miles to see if any of the swamphens or purple gallinules could be relocated elsewhere on the property. Did sight a couple of Snail Kites and a count of sixteen Limpkins, plus a Least Bittern and a handful of Mottled Ducks. But no swamphens or purple gallinules.

There is a species that benefits from the earlier dry down conditions. The Wood Stork. Wood Stork nesting is about water levels. A good wet season, enabling prey species to multiply followed by a drying down, to concentrate these food sources needed for raising their hatchlings. This nesting season saw the first nesting colony at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary since 2014 with as many as four hundred nests. These numbers as a fraction of the annual thousand nest that used to colonize Corkscrew Swamp not that long ago. As our human population expanses in south Florida all our wading birds are suffering

Live Apple Snail photographed at Harns Marsh

Friday, June 16, 2017

Florida Reptiles

Friday, June 15th

Mama Gator with Hatchling at Apple Pond Trail on Sanibel

Southern Florida is currently in our annual Birding Doldrums. Its the slowest time of the year to enjoy birding activities.  We do have many species which are either residents like Rosette Spoonbills or summer visitors here for nesting such as Gray Kingbirds or Swallow-tailed Kites. Migration has ended for now and so many wintering visitors have left to nest in the North such as Yellow-rumped Warblers or American Avocets. Later, as the summer progresses lots of birders will augment the slow
birding by with observations on Dragon Flies and Butterflies.

This American Crocodile was found along a canal in Miami-Dade County

 I, also, like to make observations on the reptile life we have here in Florida. We have native and many exotic reptile species inhabiting every possible eco-system. Here a few of the species I have managed to photograph. 

Box Turtle displaying a very wore shell, seen at Babcock-Webb
House Gecko (exotic) can be found on the exterior of many buildings

Yellow Rat Snake from Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Black Racer - Very Common Species

Water Moccasin - Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Ring-necked Snake
A healthier looking Florida Box Turtle

Puerto Rico Crested Anole (exotic) seen in Coral Gables
Bark Anole (exotic) seen in Coral Gables
Knight Anole (exotic) Seen in Coral Gables

African Rainbow Agama (exotic) seen in Coral Gables

African Rainbow Agama seen in Coral Gables

Green Iguana (exotic) are rather Common in South Florida

Basilisk Lizard (Exotic) seen in several counties in south Florida
Scarlet Kingsnake
Gopher Tortoise
Ornate Terrapin seen at Ding Darling NWR
Florida Ribbon Snake seen at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Spiny Tailed Iguana (exotic) seen in Miami

Brown Cuban Anole (exotic)

Brown Cuban Anole seen at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
A Northern Curly Tailed Lizard (exotic) found in the Florida Keys
Green Anole