Monday, January 14, 2019

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Sunday January 13th

Boat-tailed Grackles were active at this watering spot
Had to make three attempts to locate the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Its a western bird and not very commonly seem in Florida and to have a brightly colored male hanging out thirty miles from home, I had to see it.

Last week Eary Warren with wife Jennifer and Dave & Tammy McQuade had discovered the yellow-headed blackbird in the parking lot of the Win Dixie store at corner of US 17 and Bermont Road in Charlotte County.  Eary, Jennifer, Dave and Tammy have been racking up a long list birds, as the awesome birders that they are, to start the new year and it is no surprise that Eary was going to spot this guy.

Great Egret

Arrived to day about 2:30 pm and note that the parking lot lacked any grackles.  The yellow-head has been hanging with a local flock of boat-tailed grackles.  drove behind the stores to the retention pond, where wood storks, white ibis, laughing gulls, Ring-billed Gulls and the 

The Yellow-headed Blackbird was initially very hard to find. 
As it was well concealed in the shrubbery

grackles were found. Ran into Monica Higgins who was already monitoring the grackles for our target bird. Made a quick recheck in the parking lot.  Still empty.  returned to the pond an was informed that the flock had been spooked by an eagle and the yellow-headed blackbird

was easily seen and photographed. Big oops on my part, as I ended up waiting for well past an hour for the target to reappear.  The grackles were still active, so the blackbird was still expected to be at hand.  Was joined in the wait by Margi Haas and several ladies from Sarasota.

Eventually the bird was seen deep in the foliage, preening and being very inconspicuous. Patience paid off and the Yellow-headed Blackbird finally came out into the open.  Got my pics.  Yeah..

Early Florida settlers called these birds Old Flintheads 
and found them not to be very appetizing for the pot
Wood Stork

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Crested Caracara

Wednesday January 9th

Made a run out to Church Road near Felda in Hendry County, in search of any Wild Turkeys and to check on the scissor-tailed flycatcher/ western kingbird spot.

This stretch of road from State Road 82 in northeastern Collier County to State Road 29 in Hendry County, is roughly about an eight miles of rural settings featuring orange groves, pastures and a regional solid waste dump site.

Several Crested caracaras were spotted along the road, 
attracted to the carcass of dead possum,

A pair of scissor-tailed flycatchers seen along Church Road 
in November 2018
The location noted as 1881 Church Road became a popular birding spot after reports of Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers back January of 2014. It is a very reliable location for Crested Caracaras and Wild Turkeys. The turkeys sometimes can be seen in abundance or, like today, not at all.  As for the caracaras the winter months can sometimes find concentrations of the birds, especially near road kills.

From Bob Pelkey's Blog -  March 2014 and January 2015  and February 2014 featuring an excellent review of the birds of Church Road

Tom Obrock with Hemant Kishon birding 
1881 Church Road in Feb 2014
Photo by Bob Pelkey

Brown Thrasher
Lately the flycatchers and kingbirds don't seem to be using this site.  I was lucky to spot a pair of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers back on November 3rd.  But seems no one has relocated any to date. 

 Other special sightings here include an almost bi-annual appearance of Lark Sparrows, during fall migration. Vince McGrath had first located a pair back in February 2014. Painted Buntings, Eastern Towhees, White-winged Doves and Short-tailed Hawks have been seen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Franklin's Gull

Friday January 4th

Haven't had much success with finding any wintering gulls, so far. But we've had a Franklin's Gull  hanging out in the area. Was able to spot the bird at Bowditch Point Park on Ft Myers Beach . I was a bit iffy on the ID, haven't encountered one for several years.

Still on the look-out for any black-backed Gulls or other gulls and terns. Black Skimmers don't seem to be as numerous lately as well.  Not many Bonaparte's Gulls being seen winter. Been thinking that bonaparte's maybe seen on the lakes  around Lake Placid in Highlands County. Could be the recent Red Tide activity may have effected the bird life.

Franklin's Gull seen at Bodwitch Point
Spent the morning birding both ends of Ft Myers Beach.. First at Bowditch Point Park then to the south end at Carlos Point. Carlos Point did support the expected shorebirds and seabirds.  The Gulls and Terns were limited to Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, plus Royal and Sandwich Terns.  A small flock of Black Skimmers did fly past.  Did seen but one skimmer last month.

Scoped the waters for ducks, loons and grebes.  Some Common Loons were seen, but no other sea ducks or grebes.

A Young Herring Gull

Great Blue Heron

Brown Pelican


Common Loons

Wilson's Plover

Snowy Plover

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Smooth-billed Ani

Wednesday January 2nd

On my second attempt to catch-up with the Smooth-billed Ani that is hanging out around an area called the Ani Pond at Ding Darling's Bailey Track, got to see the bird. Special thanks to Ed Combs for his locating the bird for all of to see.

The Smooth-billed Ani is now considered a rare bird in Florida as it has been pretty much extirpated through out the Florida. This was a species that made its appearance in the early 20th Century here in Florid.a. Having arrived on its own from the Caribbean and Cuba.  Its numbers grew and became a very commonly seen bird. Several experienced birders I know have commented on how it was easily seen on Sanibel at one time.  But for some unknown reason the population has died out,  No doubt the influx of a number of recent sightings of vagrants  around Florida are probably the result of recent weather patterns.  Nice to see though.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Year Review - 2018

December 31st

2018 has  come to an end and a new year is on the calendar.

We measure the year with a calendar  and we measure quantity by counting. And we use these two measurements to create our bird lists.  

My annual list for 2018 came too 277 species, all seen in Florida. No travel outside of Florida this past year and had a big reduction in birding field trips in general.

Did make my first pelagic trip out of Cape Canaveral since 2014. The weather and the seas were rough, but we did get a mixed bag of success observing many of the expected species ( high count on Wilson's  Storm-petrels) , but dipped on other expected species like arctic terns and jaegers.  A couple of pilot whales were seen and the Marine Center personnel returned a couple of wayward hawksbill turtles to the floating Sargassum beds.  A pair on common eiders were seen at the dock

In January I made my annual trip to Northern Florida and  the Panhandle. Had some great observations  and ran into Dave and Tammy McQuade up in Gainesville. We would bird together for the next couple of days. Got Lifers in Sprague's Pipit in Apalachicola and White-face Ibis at St Markers.  Other good finds included a Ruff in Gainesville and Winter Wrens at Caverns State Park.  A pair of Whooping Cranes in Lake Wales. Lots of great waterfowl sightings as well, such as the Snow Geese and Ross' Geese in Tallahassee.

Another highlight was the arrival of Upland Sandpipers making a stop over in Cape Coral in April.

2018 Bird List and Gallery

1    Blue-winged Teal

2    Mottled Duck

A Mottled x Mallard hybrid. 
True Mottled Ducks are becoming genetically affected by these hybridizations

3    Ring-necked Duck

4    Hooded Merganser

5    Pied-billed Grebe

6    Wood Stork

7    Double-Crested Cormorant

8    Anhinga

9    Great Blue Heron

10    Great Egret

11   Snowy Egret
The Franklin Locks, Alva, Florida - Dec 2018

Sweetwater Wetlands, Gainesville, Florida - January 2018

12   Little Blue Heron

13   Tricolored Heron

14   Cattle Egret

15   Black-Crowned Night-Heron

16   White Ibis

17   Glossy Ibis

18   Black Vulture

19   Turkey Vulture

20   Osprey

21   Bald Eagle

22   Red-Shouldered Hawk

23   Gray-Headed Swamphen

24   Common Gallinule

Lake Apopka - May 2018

25   American Coot

26   Limpkin

27   Sandhill Crane

28   Killdeer

29   Greater Yellowlegs

30   Mourning Dove

31   Belted Kingfisher

32   Red-Bellied Woodpecker

33   Pileated Woodpecker

34   American Kestrel

35   Eastern Phoebe

36   Great Crested Flycatcher

37   Blue Jay

38   Fish Crow

39   House Wren

40   American Robin

41   Gray Catbird

42   Northern Mockingbird

43   Palm Warbler

44  Savannah Sparrow

45   Red-winged Blackbird

46   Common Grackle

47   Boat-tailed Grackle

48   White-Winged Dove

49   Northern Cardinal

50   Indigo Bunting

51   Painted Bunting

52   American Goldfinch

53   House Sparrow

54   Crested Caracara

55   Muscovy Duck

56   Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

57   Northern Shoveler

58   Northern Harrier

59   Snail Kite

60   Purple Gallinule

61   Wilson's Snipe

62   Eurasian Collared Dove

63   Common Ground-Dove

64   Loggerhead Shrike
Seen near Ava Maria, Collier County on a cold January morning

65   Tree Swallow

66   Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

67   Yellow-Rumped Warbler

68   Green Heron

69    Green-Winged Teal

70   Lesser Scaup

Seen at Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel Island 

71   Red-Breasted Merganser
A pair of Red Breasted Mergansers were seen diving for prey
 along the shoreline on Ft Myers Beach -
6 March 2018

72   Willet

73   Lesser Yellowlegs

74   Ring-billed Gull

75   American Crow

An American Crow seen at Everglades National Park

76   Rock Pigeon

77   Short-tailed Hawk

78   Red-tailed Hawk

79   Common Yellowthroat

80   Brown Pelican

81   Laughing Gull

82   Royal Gull

83   Surf Scoter

84   Common Loon

85   Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

86   Black-Bellied Plover

87   Wilson's Plover

Piping Plover seen in March at Bunche Beach Preserve

88   Piping Plover

89   Sanderling

90   Ruddy Turnstone

91   Dunlin

92   Least Sandpiper

93   Western Sandpiper

94   Spotted Sandpiper

95  Herring Gull

96   European Starling

97   Black-Necked Stilt

98   American Avocet

99   Long-billed Dowitcher

100  Eastern Meadowlark

101  Greater Scaup

102  American Oystercatcher

103  Brown-headed Cowbird

Florida Scrub Jay seen at Oscar Scherer State Park

104  Burrowing Owl

105  Florida Scrub Jay

Florida Scrub Jay seen in Lehigh Acres

106  Monk Parakeet

107  Tufted Titmouse

106 Eastern Bluebird

109 Stilt Sandpiper

110 American Bittern

111 Carolina Chickadee

112  Ruby-crowned Kinglet

113  Chipping Sparrow

114  Eastern Towhee

115  Bufflehead

116  Ruddy Duck

117  Horned Grebe

118  Cooper's Hawk
This Cooper's Hawk landed on the boardwalk railing
 at Sweetwater Wetlands in Gainesville

119  Sora

120  Ruff
A female Ruff, a Eurasian species, seen at Sweetwater Wetlands in Gainesville

121  Forster's Tern

122  White-throated Sparrow

123  Swamp Sparrow

124  Snow Goose

125  Ross's Goose
Rare to Florida, Ross's Geese , in the company of Snow Geese, seen near Tallahassee

126  Wood Duck
Wood Ducks seen at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve

127  Canvasback
A Canvasback Duck seen at St Marks NWR in January

A Redhead Duck seen at St Marks NWR in January
128  Redhead

129  Barred Owl
One of a nesting pair of Barred Owls at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve - March

130  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

131  Northern Flicker

132  Cedar Waxwing

133 American Wigeon

134 Mallard

135 Northern Pintail

136  Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye seen at St Marks NWR

137  American White Pelican

138 Downy Woodpecker

139  White-eyed Vireo

140  Blue-headed Vireo

141  Brown-headed Nuthatch

142  Sedge Wren

143  Carolina Wren

144  Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird observed at St Marks NWR

145  White-faced Ibis

146  Rosette Spoonbill

147  Canada Goose

148  Sprague's Pipit

149  Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker see at Florida Caverns State Park in January 

150  Hermit Thrush

151  Winter Wren

152  Golden-crowned Kinglet

153  Black-and-White Warbler

154 Orange-crowned Warbler

155  Black Skimmer

156  Fulvous Whistling Duck

157  Vermilion Flycatcher

158  Ash-throated Flycatcher

159  Reddish Egret

A radio monitored White-morphed Reddish Egret,
a Bunche Beach resident,
making a meal of a 
needle fish

160  Semipalmated Plover

161  Merlin

162  White-crowned Sparrow

163  Northern Gannet

164  Glaucous Gull

165  Great Black-backed Gull

Greater Black-backed Gull seen on Ft Myers Beach

166  Sandwich Tern

167  Whooping Crane

168  Pine Warbler

169 Yellow-throated Warbler

170  Great Horned Owl

171 Red-cockaded Woodpecker

172  Prairie Warbler

173 Bachman's Sparrow

174 Nanday Parakeet

175 Snowy Plover 

Snowy Plover seen on Ft Myers Beach

176 Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon consuming its kill

177 Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull seen on Ft Myers Beach

178 Black-throated Green Warbler

179 Baltimore Oriole

180 Red Knot

181  Giant Wood-rail
An escapee on Sanibel Island

182  Northern Parula

183  Marbled Godwit

184  Short-billed Dowitcher
Seen on Bunche Beach in May

185 White-winged Scoter

186  Saltmarsh Sparrow

187 Least Bittern

188 Northern Bobwhite

189  Grasshopper Sparrow

190  Scissor tailed Flycatcher

191  Swainson's Hawk

192 Broadwinged Hawk

193 Barn Owl

194  Ruby-throated Hummingbird

195  Common Myna

196  Tropical Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird seen at Lucky Hammock 

197 Magnificent Frigatebird

198 Brown Thrasher

199 Swallow-tailed Kite

200 Purple Martin

201 Bronzed Cowbird

202 Blue Grosbeak

203 Caspian Tern

204 Chucks-Will-Widow

205 Lincoln's Sparrow

206 Whip-poor-Will

207 Bonaparte's Gull

208 Northern Waterthrush

209 King Rail

210 Eastern Screech Owl

211 Barn Swallow

212 Louisiana Waterthrush

213 Yellow-breasted Chat

214 Ovenbird

215 Common Tern

216 Yellow-throated Vireo

217 Wild Turkey

218 Hooded Warbler

219 Gray Kingbird

220 Red-eyed Vireo

221 Solitary Sandpiper
Seen at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve in April

222 Yellow-billed Cuckoo

223 Black-billed Cuckoo

224 Eastern Kingbird

225 Summer Tanager

226 Prothonotary Warbler

227 Tennessee Warbler

228 Yellow Warbler

229 Orchard Oriole

230 American Redstart

231 Veery

232 Upland Sandpiper

233 Rose-breasted Grosbeck

234 Scarlet Tanager

235 Wood Thrush

236 Swainson's Thrush

237 Least Tern

238 Common Nighthawk

239 Hairy Woodpecker

240 Blackpoll Warbler

241 Black-throated Blue Warbler

242 Bobolink

243 Semipalmated Sandpiper

244 House Crow

245 Cape May Warbler

246 Worm-eating Warbler

247 Chimney Swift

248 Northern Rough-winged Swallow

249 Magnolia Warbler

250 Black-capped Petrel

251 Wilson's Storm-Petrel

252 Audubon's Shearwater

253 Sooty Tern

254 Bridled Tern

255 Black Tern

256 Common Eider

257 Cliff Swallow

258 Bank Swallow

259 Pectoral Sandpiper

260 Egyptian Goose

261 Mangrove Cuckoo

263 Cave Swallow

264 Gull-billed Tern

264 House Finch

265 Whimbrel

266 Eastern Wood-Pewee

267 Least Flycatcher

268  Acadian Flycatcher

269 Bay-breasted Warbler

270 Chestnut-sided Warbler

271 Golden-winged Warbler

272 Lark Sparrow

273 Blackburnian Warbler

274 Marsh Wren

275 Gadwall

276 Black Scoter

277 Sharp-shinned Hawk