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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Upland Sandpipers

Tuesday, August 23rd

Its been three years, but I've finally succeeded in sighting Upland Sandpipers. I had dipped on the species the past two years, but today Bob Pelkey and I arrived at the correct sod farm for some rather distant views. This field, south of South Bay, in the Everglades Ag Area, had been well documented on eBird of reports of Uppie sightings. Other grass-peeps were several small flocks of Pectoral Sandpipers.
Upland Sandpiper

On the way back to Ft Myers we stopped at  the Barn Owl Cypress Stand at the junction of Miami Canal Road and Bolles Canal Road were we have on occasion actually seen a barn owl. We maybe, kinda-sorta spotted the flash of white wings of a large bird fleeing the scene that may or may not have been a barn owl. It probably was one, but maybe it wasn't. Just don't know for sure. Further investigation failed to reveal any other sight or sound of the elusive birds. So we settled for an Eastern Kingbird, a couple of Prairie Warblers, a couple Gnatcatchers and a bunch of Barn Swallows. 
Crested Caracara

Other sightings on the day included Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, snoozing Common Nighthawks, Wood Storks, Crested Caracaras, Belted Kingfishers and Sandhill Cranes

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chasing Pelagics

Monday, August 21st
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins

Enthusiastic birders, Dave and Tammy McQuade, have actively been  engaged in the search for pelagics out in The Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is not known for the type of off-shore birding one can experience off Cape Hatteras or Monterey Bay, but Dave and Tammy have been finding the unexpected.  Last year they encountered a juvenile Red-footed Booby and last month an Arctic Tern.

Sooty Tern

I was invited to join them on there boat for this month's sojourn. Yesterday, we left the dock at 6:30 AM in Ft Myers with the added company of Eary and Jennifer Warren. The plan was to search the waters off Lee County, with investigations targeted toward the known reefs and wrecks. Shearwaters and Storm-Petrels were a part of today's target list along with pelagic terns and any migrating neo-tropics. 

Our list for the day was rather short on the pelagics. For me, the sighting of a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was a lifer and the juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns, Bridled Terns and Black Terns rounded out the day. As for migrants, we saw Cliff and Barn Swallows, plus Hooded and Prothonotary Warblers

Immature Sooty Tern

Other wildlife included a very large pod of leaping Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and several Bottlenose Dolphins. A couple of Loggerhead Turtles were spotted as well as a Leatherback Turtle. And watching the Flying Fish skim across the surface of the water helped to fill time time between bird sightings

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins

Notable was the absence any gulls, pelicans or royal terns till we actually were approaching the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River was we were returning in the late afternoon. 

I really appreciate the invitation from Dave and Tammy and wish them luck is their quest to hit 600 birds for this year. Fifty to go.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fall Migration Has Started

Monday August 15th

Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve - Ft Myers, Florida

Yellow Rat Snake -
A commonly seen reptile at Six-mile
Six-mile Cypress is one of our better Fall Migration hot spots in Lee County for the neo-tropical migrants. And this week there numbers have really stepped-up. From the end of July till now we have seen a steady stream of the early migrating species such as  Black-and-White Warblers and Northern Parulas. A few Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireos and Yellow Throated Warblers too. 

This week we have seen a influx of additional warblers including Yellow, Hooded, Prothonotaries, Prairies, American Red-starts, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Waterthrush and Ovenbirds, We have also had a couple of Kentucky Warblers show-up. They are very uncommon in our area.
Kentucky Warbler

Summer Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Acadian Flycatcher have all recently been seen. Common Yellowthroats, Swainson's Warbler and Worm-eating are still expected.  Other species that have recently arrived locally, but in other habitats include Belted Kingfisher, Barn Swallows and Piping Plovers 
Carolina Wren

Red-shouldered Hawk

Northern Parula

Armadillos have been digging in the butterfly garden
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly

Northern Parula

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
White Ibis

Cuban Brown Anole

Black-and-White Warblers are very common lately