Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 2009 Year List

I was pretty active with my birding this past year and am diffidently still on a major learning curve. I managed to accrue a 262 count plus at least 6 non-countable birds for 2009. The vast majority were located in south Florida, which does offer some unique and special birding sites. Add to that the spring and fall migrations. Several species are on the endangered species list.

A couple of trips to northern Florida/Georgia and a trip up to Illinois in May for a family function helped to the list. My Life List is at 275 plus the 6 non-countables.

  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  2. Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  3. Snow Goose
  4. Ross's Goose
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Mute Swan
  7. Muscovy Duck
  8. Wood Duck
  9. Gadwell
  10. Eurasian Wigeon
  11. American Wigeon
  12. Mallard
  13. Mottled Duck
  14. Blue-winged Teal
  15. Northern Shoveler
  16. Northern Pintail
  17. Green-winged Teal
  18. Redhead
  19. Ring-necked Duck
  20. Lesser Scaup
  21. Bufflehead
  22. Common Goldeneye
  23. Hooded Merganser
  24. Red-breasted Merganser
  25. Masked Duck
  26. Ruddy Duck
  27. Wild Turkey
  28. Northern Bobwhite
  29. Common Loon
  30. Least Grebe
  31. Pied-billed Grebe
  32. Horned Grebe
  33. American White Pelican
  34. Brown Pelican
  35. Double-crested Cormorant
  36. Anhinga
  37. Magnificent Frigatebird
  38. American Bittern
  39. Great Blue Heron
  40. Great Egret
  41. Snowy Egret
  42. Little Blue Heron
  43. Tricolored Heron
  44. Reddish Egret
  45. Cattle Egret
  46. Green Heron
  47. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  48. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  49. White Ibis
  50. Scarlet Ibis
  51. Glossy Ibis
  52. Roseate Spoonbill
  53. Wood Stork
  54. Black Vulture
  55. Turkey Vulture
  56. Osprey
  57. Swallow-tailed Kite
  58. White-tailed Kite
  59. Snail Kite
  60. Bald Eagle
  61. Northern Harrier
  62. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  63. Cooper's Hawk
  64. Red-shouldered Hawk
  65. Broad-winged Hawk
  66. Short-tailed Hawk
  67. Swainson's Hawk
  68. Red-tailed Hawk
  69. Crested Caracara
  70. American Kestrel
  71. Merlin
  72. Peregrine Falcon
  73. Clapper Rail
  74. King Rail
  75. Sora
  76. Purple Gallinule
  77. Common Moorhen
  78. American Coot
  79. Limpkin
  80. Sandhill Crane
  81. Whooping Crane
  82. Black-bellied Plover
  83. Snowy Plover
  84. Wilson's Plover
  85. Semipalmated Plover
  86. Piping Plover
  87. Killdeer
  88. American Oystercatcher
  89. Black-necked Stilt
  90. American Avocet
  91. Spotted Sandpiper
  92. Solitary Sandpiper
  93. Greater Yellowlegs
  94. Willet
  95. Lesser Yellowlegs
  96. Upland Sandpiper
  97. Whimbrel
  98. Long-billed Curlew
  99. Marbled Godwit
  100. Ruddy Turnstone
  101. Red Knot
  102. Sanderling
  103. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  104. Western Sandpiper
  105. Least Sandpiper
  106. Pectoral Sandpiper
  107. Purple Sandpiper
  108. Dunlin
  109. Stilt Sandpiper
  110. Ruff
  111. Short-billed Dowitcher
  112. Long-billed Dowitcher
  113. Wilson's Snipe
  114. Laughing Gull
  115. Ring-billed Gull
  116. Herring Gull
  117. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  118. Great Black-backed Gull
  119. Least Tern
  120. Caspian Tern
  121. Black Tern
  122. Common Tern
  123. Forster's Tern
  124. Royal Tern
  125. Sandwich Tern
  126. Black Skimmer
  127. Rock Pigeon
  128. White-crowned Pigeon
  129. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  130. White-winged Dove
  131. Mourning Dove
  132. Common Ground-Dove
  133. Monk Parakeet
  134. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  135. Mangrove Cuckoo
  136. Eastern Screech-Owl
  137. Great Horned Owl
  138. Burrowing Owl
  139. Barred Owl
  140. Common Nighthawk
  141. Chuck-will's-widow
  142. Whip-poor-will
  143. Chimney Swift
  144. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  145. Belted Kingfisher
  146. Red-headed Woodpecker
  147. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  148. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  149. Downy Woodpecker
  150. Hairy Woodpecker
  151. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  152. Northern Flicker
  153. Pileated Woodpecker
  154. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  155. Alder Flycatcher
  156. Least Flycatcher
  157. Eastern Phoebe
  158. Say's Phoebe
  159. Great Crested Flycatcher
  160. Brown-crested Flycatcher
  161. Tropical Kingbird
  162. Western Kingbird
  163. Eastern Kingbird
  164. Gray Kingbird
  165. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  166. Loggerhead Shrike
  167. White-eyed Vireo
  168. Bell's Vireo
  169. Yellow-throated Vireo
  170. Blue-headed Vireo
  171. Red-eyed Vireo
  172. Black-whiskered Vireo
  173. Blue Jay
  174. Florida Scrub-Jay
  175. American Crow
  176. Fish Crow
  177. Purple Martin
  178. Tree Swallow
  179. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  180. Bank Swallow
  181. Cliff Swallow
  182. Cave Swallow
  183. Barn Swallow
  184. Carolina Chickadee
  185. Black-capped Chickadee
  186. Tufted Titmouse
  187. White-breasted Nuthatch
  188. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  189. Carolina Wren
  190. House Wren
  191. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  192. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  193. Eastern Bluebird
  194. Veery
  195. Swainson's Thrush
  196. Hermit Thrush
  197. Wood Thrush
  198. American Robin
  199. Gray Catbird
  200. Northern Mockingbird
  201. Brown Thrasher
  202. European Starling
  203. Cedar Waxwing
  204. Blue-winged Warbler
  205. Tennessee Warbler
  206. Nashville Warbler
  207. Northern Parula
  208. Yellow Warbler
  209. Magnolia Warbler
  210. Cape May Warbler
  211. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  212. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  213. Black-throated Green Warbler
  214. Yellow-throated Warbler
  215. Pine Warbler
  216. Prairie Warbler
  217. Palm Warbler
  218. Blackpoll Warbler
  219. Black-and-white Warbler
  220. American Redstart
  221. Prothonotary Warbler
  222. Worm-eating Warbler
  223. Ovenbird
  224. Northern Waterthrush
  225. Kentucky Warbler
  226. Common Yellowthroat
  227. Hooded Warbler
  228. Summer Tanager
  229. Scarlet Tanager
  230. Eastern Towhee
  231. Bachman's Sparrow
  232. Chipping Sparrow
  233. Field Sparrow
  234. Vesper Sparrow
  235. Savannah Sparrow
  236. Grasshopper Sparrow
  237. Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow
  238. Song Sparrow
  239. Swamp Sparrow
  240. White-throated Sparrow
  241. Harris's Sparrow
  242. White-crowned Sparrow
  243. Northern Cardinal
  244. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  245. Blue Grosbeak
  246. Indigo Bunting
  247. Painted Bunting
  248. Dickcissel
  249. Bobolink
  250. Red-winged Blackbird
  251. Eastern Meadowlark
  252. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  253. Common Grackle
  254. Boat-tailed Grackle
  255. Shiny Cowbird
  256. Bronzed Cowbird
  257. Brown-headed Cowbird
  258. Orchard Oriole
  259. Baltimore Oriole
  260. American Goldfinch
  261. House Sparrow
  262. Common Myna
  263. Egyptian Geese - (non-countable)
  264. Purple Swamphen - (non-countable)
  265. Black-Hooded Parakeet - (non-countable)
  266. Mitred Parakeet - (non-countable)
  267. Yellow-Chevroned Parakeet - (non-countable)
  268. Lilac-Crowned Parrot - (non-countable)

More Common Loon

A Common Loon

On the way home from work I did a little birding with the idea of maybe finding a Grasshopper Sparrow in the brush and fence lines along Domestic Street, which is off of Alico Road in San Carlos Park. I hadn't found any Grasshopper Sparrows yet this year, but last year I did find some at this location. Toward to end of the dead end street exists several man-made ponds, probably for water control. Currently they host a few grebes, coots, Mottled Ducks, lesser Scaups and occasionally Ring-necked Ducks. But today I found a lone common loon working the middle pond looking for breakfast. While attempting to get a few poor quality pictures I could hear a faint loon call, as I had heard many many years ago up in Minnesota. Because it was so low I suspect it actually came from a buddy in another nearby pond. Seems to me that it is very unusual to find these birds here as they would normally be expected in salt-water bays while they visit Florida.

Hopefully it'll stick around till tomorrow so I can start the 2010 Bird Count with a Common Loon. maybe Grasshopper Sparrow as well.

One of the ponds

+List from this location include -Lesser Scaup, Common Loon, Brown Pelican, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, American Coot, Mourning Dove, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark

Estero Bay Preserve State Park in Southwest Florida

Estero River

Tuesday, December 29th, visited Estero Bay Preserve off Broadway in Estero. This tract, known as Estero Scrub River access was added in 2000 to the preserve, when the state purchased this land to forestall a developers plan to convert it into housing. This land is a much needed buffer to try and protect the water quality of Estero Bay. The trails here generally traverse upland pine, scrub oak, salt marsh, salt flats and mangroves. It is also a mitigation area for the relocation of gopher tortoises needing a new home, because of land development. The exotics are also being removed and the transformed back to natural, native Florida. Recently control burns have been used as well, as part of the land management.
Frankly, as side of the many gopher tortoises, bird life is not very abundant. There are usually kettles of vultures with hawks and eagles at times, and in the summer we have Swallow-tailed Kites. There are also many snags so that pileated, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers are present. Watch also for pineland species like doves, eastern towhees, house wrens, blue jays eastern bluebirds and bobwhites. The scrub is also home to the rare and endangered Florida Scrub Jay. The target specialties here are the Florida Scrub Jay, Northern Bobwhites Swallow-tailed Kites and a local Bald eagles’ nest.
Today I spent two hours hiking in the afternoon and found it very quit. But I was after the scrub jay, bobwhites, the eagles’ nest and I also needed to locate an Eastern Towhee. Found some of the trail to be very wet and muddy, but there were no mosquitoes. By February conditions should be even better as the trails dry out.
On my first hike her on February 14, 2008 I was lucky to locate two Scrub Jays and I have never found one since. No bobwhites today either. As for the eagles’ nest, I found the nest tree destroyed by fire. Hopefully they will rebuild nearby. Did find the towhee and had my best bird when a merlin flew and land in a nearby tree. My trip list includes -

Bald Eagles nest tree
The Orange Trail
Salt Flats

Gopher Tortoise

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bronzed Cowbirds in Clewiston

Wanted to do some birding today and the reports of tundra swans in St Johns County, a common eider at Flagler Beach, a masked duck at Veira Wetlands and a La Sagra's Flycatcher in the Everglades National Park were very tempting as Florida Rarities. But the logistics were too difficult as I had some things to attend to in the morning. So I recalled a posting on BirdBrains about Bronzed Cowbirds in Clewiston.
Before heading to Clewiston I had to make a stop up by Lake Placid and did stop a couple of places along the way to bird, including Alva. Here I checked out a dependable location for Red-Headed Woodpecker, which are not common in this area. Next, a few blocks away, the White family of Alva maintances several bird feeders in their front yard, were Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches are often found as well as White-Winged Doves. My Alva list includes - Sandhill Crane, Red-headed Woodpecker, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Eastern Meadowlark, American Goldfinch.After leaving Lake Placid was able to arrive in Clewiston at 2:45pm. I was following these instructions from Ed Kwater as he posted to BirdBrains on November 15th.
This afternoon at around 1.00 pm I found two Bronzed Cowbirds along the Lake Okeechobee levee in Clewiston. They were with two Brown-headed cowbirds. To get to the spot take route 80/27 from South Bay into Clewiston and turn right (north) on Francisco Street. After a couple of blocks turn left onto Hoover Dike and follow this round past a small marina and up onto the levee. The birds were in a line of small oaks at the base of the levee on the bank of the canal below the levee. They were still there when I left at 2.30 pm. They were not very active but were very tame and were calling repeatedly.

Ed Kwater
Brandon, FL
I drove directly to the levee and park next a tree were at least two Bronzed Cowbirds were setting with several Brown-Headed Cowbirds and a few Boat-Tailed Grackles. The Bronzed Cowbirds were Lifer #275 for me. I plan to return next month to seek them out for my 2010 year list as they will probably move along in the Spring. My Clewiston list includes - Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, White Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Belted Kingfisher, Fish Crow, Palm Warbler, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Common Loons

Piping Plover

December 22nd
Headed down to Bunche Beach early on this chilly morning to see if any mergansers, loons, grebes or white pelicans were to be found today. Found that the tide was very low, which really spreads out the birds. Was able to locate almost all of the expected species, such as Black-bellied, Semipalmated, Wilson's and Piping Plovers
Other species included an Osprey, Brown Pelicans and DC Cormorants. Plus Reddish Egrets, Little Blue Egrets, a Yellow-Crowned Nightheron, White Ibis, Marbled Godwits and Willets. Smaller birds included Least Sandpipers, Sanderlings, Dunlins and Short-billed Dowitchers. The shrubs produced Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and surprisingly a Common Yellowthroat. There were very gulls - Laughing and a single Ring-billed Gull, and only three Sandwich Terns were seen, There were hundreds of Black Skimmers though. The best sighting were three common loons swimming and diving just off the beach. My attempts at photographing the loons were disappointing as I was not equipped for the situation. I posted the best that I could manage. Hopefully they will hang around and I can find a better picture to post later.
Common Loon off Bunche Beach

Monday, December 21, 2009

Common Goldeneye

Florida rare bird alerts noted the location for a female Common Goldeneye up in Sarasota. After watching the follow-up posting, I elected to twitch after the bird, which would be a lifer for me. The goldeneye was noted to be a companion of a Bufflehead and was to be found at a pond on Fruitville Road two miles east of I-75 in Sarasota. Parking was not permitted on the shoulder of the road, but it would be best to park in the church parking lot across the street. The site is also posted against trespassing, so bird from the sidewalk.
Arrived about 9:00 am and had a little trouble locating the ducks while sorting through the Lesser Scaups and Ring-Necked Ducks present. But when a small number of Hooded Mergansers flew-in the Goldeneye and Bufflehead were found swimming with them.
Afterwards I checked out the nearby Celery Fields hoping to locate Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. No whistling ducks were present but had lots of American Coots, Moorhens, Blue-Winged Teal and Mottled Ducks. My list for the Celery fields inclded -

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck
Today was able to confirm a sighting of a male Ruddy Duck using a nearby retention lake, which I first noticed yesterday. I don't think that we usually see these ducks in our back yards around here. I am also considering twitching up to Sarasota to follow up on a reported sighting of a female Common Goldeneye, which is diffidently a rarer find. A more distant trip could be to follow up on the sightings of a pair of juvenile Tundra Swans up in St John's County. Ironically I had been considering a trip up to South Carolina to look for Tundra Swans in February.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Everglades and Lucky Hammock Again - Dec 14th

Made another trip out to Lucky Hammock and the Everglades seeking those special bird species that should be found there in December. Wanted to find Swainson's Hawks, which by this time last year I had several sightings, but don't seem to have found there way to South Florida in 2009. Also have read of several sightings of Shorteared Owls at Lucky Hammock as well as Whipper-poor-Wills, to be seen at or heard at dawn or dusk.
So I gave it a try but missed on all even with arriving at sunrise. Had left home at 4 AM, arriving just before seven. Did see American Kestrel, a Peregrine, several Northern Harriers, a Broad-Wing Hawk and later in the park, a light-morphed Short-tailed Hawk, a Red-tailed Hawk, several Red-Shouldered Hawks and Ospreys, plus an immature Bald Eagle. Another missed species were White-tailed Kites which I looked for both at Lucky hammock and on Research Road in the park.

At Flamingo, the best sighting had to be a hundred American White Pelicans resting out on the mud flats. A large American Crocodile was also at its usual basking site across the canal from the marina.
At Royal Hammock, many dozens of Black Vultures were congregated in the parking lot and along the Anhinga Trail. The trouble in the parking lot was that the vultures were jumping up onto the hoods and roofs of the vehicles there, were they would relieve themselves as well as trying to pull apart any trim they could pull on. My own car was victimized as well.
The birding was not all that good so I left a bit earlier than usual to drive over Florida City to check on the reported Western Kingbirds and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. Did locate one of each at the SW 312th Street which was also a reliable location last year.
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher - December 2008

Then to Cutler Wetlands were avocets and ruddy ducks are reported. Found it rather birdy, but the light and distance made identifying most of the ducks difficult to manage. So I moved on to Kendell.

The traffic was heavy in Kendell as I was arriving in mid-afternoon to look for exotics. At Kendell Baptist Hospital campus was lucky to find a flock of about 30 Mitred Parakeets wheeling about the campus. They would all land in the canopy of a large tree were they virtually disappeared. They blended right into the foliage, but there vocalizations gave them away. After there brief visit they took off away from the hospital. So it was time to head for home. Had considered checking the neighborhood across the street from the hospital for red-whiskered Bulbuls, but fatigue and the heavy traffic dissuaded me from further ventures. Yet I was rewarded in my way out of town with several sightings of Monk Parakeets along Kendell Drive. Was able to get a few pictures of a flock of Monks competing with grackles and mourning doves feeding below a palm tree in a Home Depot parking lot.

Monk Parakeets in Kendell parking lot

Soft Shell Turtle found along the road in The Everglades Park

Florida Gar found along the Anhinga Trail

Young Pied-Billed Grebes

A scene from Mohogany Hammock

American Alligator

Female Anhinga on her nest along the Anhinga Trail

Black Vultures trying to make a meal out of a car

Double-Crested Cormorants

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ft DeSoto and Great Horned Owl

December 1, 2009 - Hit the road about mid-day to travel up to Ft DeSoto Park which is located in Tampa Bay. My goals were for the day were tempered by recent BRDBRAINS posting of a great horned owl, scissor-tailed flycatchers and cedar waxwings, plus any possible relocates of the long-billed curlew, snowy plovers, lesser black-backed gulls or caspian terns. I also was interested in locating any common loons or grebes. See this connect to BRDBRAINS message with an attached photo of the Great Horned Owl at north beach

Arrived after two plus hours and started by checking out the tierra verde pond where I had Pied-Billed Grebes, lots of FOS Redheads, Ring-Necked Ducks and Lesser Scaups. Also lots of cormorants, various waders and a very active osprey looking for lunch.

Went to East Beach first which did not have any great numbers of shore birds but there was a good variety though. Could see a number of diving birds off-shore. Could make out a loon and some cormorants, but other birds were uncertain. A scope is a must.
Next to the dock to see if I could get any better views of diving birds. Sighted the Broad-Winged Hawk on the wire near to were postings had already mentioned past sightings. The dock was loaded with fisherman and the usual birds like Brown Pelicans, Snowy Egrets, and Cormorants found near to fishing piers. But the diving birds were not around. Last January we had a couple off Common Loons right by the dock, but the windy, chilly weather that had keep the dock clear of fisherman that day.
Royal Tern

Spent about an hour looking for the Great Horned Owl at north beach. Had heard a faint hoot but could not locate the bird. Till I met a nice lady at the parking lot as I was giving up and moving on to my next stop. She inquired if I was looking for the owl and I shared how my frustrated search was a bust on the owl, but did yield five warblers. So within five minutes of exiting her car and with the aid of a walker had successfully located the bird. It was all a matter of correctly following the post directions to its roost. Many thanks to her.

Before leaving I double checked the east beach again and found the viewing of the diving birds off-shore Had improved. Several cormorants were obvious, as was a loon, but the duck shaped diving birds needed to be deciphered. They were dark above and a clearly white bottom was definitive. My chooses were between horned grebe and buffleheads. At first I elected for buffleheads, but later concluded that they had to be horne grebes. The use of a scope would have probably solved the dilemma.

My List (62) - Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Horned Grebe, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Fish Crow, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird

Friday, November 27, 2009

November Ramblings - October Too

Having failed to post anything for about the past four weeks, I thought I'd put together a summary of some of my birding activities. For example, I was fortunate to come across a resting Chuck-Will's Widow on three occasions in the same week. Before the time-change, it was still dark in the morning as I was leaving work for home, and I was lucky to discover the chuck-will's-widow resting atop a fence post. I was able to repeat our visit with the same bird on the same post a couple more times on mornings with low road traffic. No doubt it is now resting somewhere in Costa Rica or there abouts tonight. Photography efforts only produced the red glow of its eyes. Sightings noted on October 21 and 24
My October list (160) -

  1. Muscovy Duck

  2. Canada Geese

  3. Wood Duck -

  4. Mallard

  5. Mottled Duck

  6. Blue-winged Teal -

  7. Pied-billed Grebe

  8. American White Pelican

  9. Brown Pelican

  10. Double-crested Cormorant

  11. Anhinga

  12. Magnificent Frigatebird

  13. Great Blue Heron

  14. Great Egret

  15. Snowy Egret

  16. Little Blue Heron

  17. Tricolored Heron

  18. Reddish Egret

  19. Cattle Egret

  20. Green Heron

  21. Black-crowned Night-Heron

  22. White Ibis

  23. Glossy Ibis

  24. Roseate Spoonbil

  25. Wood Stork

  26. Black Vulture

  27. Turkey Vulture

  28. Osprey

  29. White-tailed Kite

  30. Snail Kite

  31. Bald Eagle

  32. Northern Harrier

  33. Sharp-shinned Hawk

  34. Cooper's Hawk

  35. Red-shouldered Hawk

  36. Broad-winged Hawk

  37. Short-tailed Hawk

  38. Red-tailed Hawk

  39. Crested Caracara

  40. American Kestrel

  41. Merlin

  42. Peregrine Falcon

  43. Clapper Rail

  44. Common Moorhen

  45. American Coot

  46. Limpkin

  47. Sandhill Crane

  48. Black-bellied Plover

  49. Snowy Plover

  50. Wilson's Plover

  51. Semipalmated Plover

  52. Piping Plover

  53. Killdeer

  54. American Oystercatcher

  55. Spotted Sandpiper

  56. Greater Yellowlegs

  57. Willet

  58. Lesser Yellowlegs

  59. Marbled Godwit

  60. Ruddy Turnstone

  61. Red Knot

  62. Sanderling

  63. Semipalmated Sandpiper

  64. Western Sandpiper

  65. Least Sandpiper

  66. Pectoral Sandpiper

  67. Dunlin

  68. Short-billed Dowitchers

  69. Long-billed Dowitchers

  70. Wilson's Snipe

  71. Laughing Gull

  72. Ring-billed Gull

  73. Herring Gull

  74. Lesser Black-backed Gull

  75. Great Black-backed Gull

  76. Caspian Tern

  77. Forster's Tern

  78. Royal Tern

  79. Sandwich Tern

  80. Black Skimmer

  81. Rock Pigeon

  82. Eurasian Collared-Dove

  83. Mourning Dove

  84. Common Ground-Dove

  85. Monk Parakeet

  86. Yellow-billed Cuckoo

  87. Burrowing Owl

  88. Chuck-will's-widow

  89. Chimney Swift

  90. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

  91. Belted Kingfisher

  92. Red-headed Woodpecker

  93. Red-bellied Woodpecker

  94. Downy Woodpecker

  95. Hairy Woodpecker

  96. Northern Flicker

  97. Pileated Woodpecker

  98. Eastern Wood-Pewee

  99. Eastern Phoebe

  100. Great Crested Flycatcher

  101. Western Kingbird

  102. Gray Kingbird

  103. Loggerhead Shrike

  104. White-eyed Vireo

  105. Yellow-throated Vireo

  106. Blue-headed Vireo

  107. Red-eyed Vireo

  108. Blue Jay

  109. Florida Scrub-Jay

  110. American Crow

  111. Fish Crow

  112. Purple Martin

  113. Tree Swallow

  114. Northern Rough-winged Swallow

  115. Cliff Swallow

  116. Barn Swallow

  117. Carolina Chickadee

  118. Tufted Titmouse

  119. Carolina Wren

  120. House Wren

  121. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

  122. Eastern Bluebird

  123. Swainson's Thrush

  124. Hermit Thrush

  125. Gray Catbird

  126. Northern Mockingbird

  127. Brown Thrasher

  128. Tennessee Warbler

  129. Nashville Warbler

  130. Northern Parula

  131. Magnolia Warbler

  132. Yellow-rumped Warbler

  133. Black-throated Green Warbler

  134. Yellow-throated Warbler

  135. Pine Warbler

  136. Prairie Warbler

  137. Palm Warbler

  138. Black-and-white Warbler

  139. American Redstart

  140. Ovenbird

  141. Northern Waterthrush

  142. Common Yellowthroat

  143. Hooded Warbler

  144. Summer Tanager

  145. Scarlet Tanager

  146. Eastern Towhee

  147. Northern Cardinal

  148. Rose-breasted Grosbeak

  149. Indigo Bunting

  150. Painted Bunting

  151. Bobolink

  152. Red-winged Blackbird

  153. Eastern Meadowlark

  154. Common Grackle

  155. Boat-tailed Grackle

  156. Brown-headed Cowbird

  157. Baltimore Oriole

  158. House Sparrow

  159. European Starling

  160. Common Myna
    November 2nd Trip to Lake County (42) - My Nemeses Bird was the Say's Phoebe, which is a rare bird in Florida. Seems a single individual Say's Phoebe has been wintering in the same field on Ranch Road outside Astatula in lake County, a four drive from my home. Twice last winter I went up to Lake County seeking - twitching- the Say's as a life count and with making three visits to the site on each trip and struck-out. The sad thing here is that a great number of birders had basically driven up to the location and quickly sited the bird for there tick.

So My daughter Katie and I headed north, birding along the way. We started at Harns Marsh with a FOS Savannah Sparrow, Limplin and Snail Kites, - Mottled Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Osprey, Snail Kite, Common Moorhen, Limpkin, Palm Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Boat-tailed Grackle. Then made a stop in Alva to locate the Red-Headed Woodpeckers - Mourning Dove, Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Meadowlark We located a pair of Creasted Caracaras in Gladys County - Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Sandhill Crane, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, American Crow. Arrived at Ranch Road and did have a brief, distant view of the Say's Phoebe, which was not too satisfing, but finally took care of my nemesus bird - Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Eastern Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark. Before heading for home we checked the nearby Lust Road, which has been a good source for locating western kingbirds, various sparrows and an ash-throated Flycatcher, which is another western bird that seems to like this area. But again, not today. Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, American Crow, Gray Catbird, Palm Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird

November 5th Bunche Beach - A sundown visit to Bunche Beach was rewarded with a fly over of a Caspian Tern. I had gone down to the beach with the idea of perhaps locating the Caspian tern that had been reported earlier on Ft Myers Beach, as we rarely find them in our locality. My List - Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Reddish Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Osprey, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, House Wren, Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal

November 8th Harns Marsh - Another visit to Hans Marsh in Lehigh Acres found it very busy even with the heavy winds that day. But most of the activity was not on the eastern marsh area because of the winds, rather on the other side off of the Harns Marsh Elementary School site. Found hits on Blue-Winged Teal, FOS Green0Winged Teal, Snail Kites, Limpkins, Northern Harriers and Sandhill Cranes. Lots of vultures. My List - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, American Coot, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Solitary Sandpiper, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle
November 9th Collier County (71) - Started the day at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Collier County, then to Eagle Lakes in east Naples and back into Lee County at Bunche Beach to see if T.S. Ida was blowing in any pelagic species toward shore.
*Corkscrew Swamp offered its usually waders and fall warblers. Did attempt to locate painted Buntings, which I apparently just missed near the Bunting House feeder. Was lucky to spot a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at the butterfly garden by Blair House. My list - Anhinga, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Grackle
*Eagle Lakes is were I had located a pair of Wood Ducks back in July. Did not find them on this day but did find lots of American Coots, FOS pair of Ring-Necked Ducks, several Mottled ducks and few Blue-Winged Teal. My best bird was a Merlin. My list - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, European Starling, Palm Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle
*Bunche Beach did not offer any pelagics, but did see most of the usual peeps, waders and shore birds. The most interesting sighting was a lone female Lesser Scaup sitting in the surf near shore, but was uncooperative for any closer view as it paddled out into the bay. My list - Lesser Scaup, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer
November 9th & 10th T.S. Ida - Tropical Storm Ida was churning in the Gulf of Mexico on its way to landfall in Alabama and sometimes these storms especially the hurricanes can push pelagic species toward shore. In September 2008 had some luck on Bunche Beach with three Bridled Terns. This storm, though it did create some winds, did not seem to offer up anything special at the beach. I checked Bunche Beach on the 9th and early on the 10th I was checking Little Estero Lagoon on Ft Myers Beach. Most interesting were the nine or so Magnificent Frigatebirds that were soaring above the shore and a count of 50 (counted them twice) American Oystercatchers huddling out of the winds. My list - Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Osprey, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer

November 16 Dade County Visit (72) - Left home in San Carlos park at 3:30 am with a goal of arriving at Lucky Hammock at sun rise, the rest of the day included stops in The Everglades, Culter Wetlands and Cutler Marsh, plus any sighting in Florida City and Homestead. For me. I enjoy spotting any of Florida's established exotic species, and anytime I am in South Florida I am looking for parrots and other species. While gassing up the car for my drive home for the day I was able watch a flock of Common Mynas wire sitting and bathing in puddles along a busy intersection. earlier at another nearby intersection I had a flock of six or seven long-tailed green parrots fly by. Sadly I was able to get any better notes on the parrots, but I do not think that they were monk parakeets. Made a point of checking a site in Florida City that often yielded western kingbirds and scissor-tailed flycatchers last year, but were not evident on this day. Understand that they have finally moved back in December.
*Lucky Hammock & The Annex - Arrived just at sun rise and checked the road for whipper-poor-wills or any nighthawks. But it started out a bit quite. Was hoping to find western kingbirds as I had last month, plus white-tailed kites and to see if any swainsen's hawks were on hand. Well none of any of these were found today. Did find a young Peregrine Falcon resting on a low bush in the field as well as several American Kestrel and a couple of hunting Northern Harriers. Sandhill Cranes and dozens of Wood Storks flew over head. The Hammock and adjacent bushy area yielded a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, a Least Flycatcher, several Eastern Phoebes, a Northern Waterthrush, a solo Tree Swallow, Great Crested Flycatcher and White-eyed Vireo. The fields yielded several sparrows. I had figured that most were Song Sparrows and the rest were Savannah Sparrows. But I was put straight immediately when I had posted finding Song Sparrows on the TAS message board. As the following comment was a sent to me. "It's a common mistake anywhere in South Florida. SOSPs are exceedingly rare below Lake Okeechobee. . . ." Others also commented on the TAS site. Seems that some savannah sparrows sport similar breast markings as song sparrows. But who is to say that I had not actually located six song sparrows well south of there normal range. Misplace birds are located all of the time. But I do not have any cred with the birding world, at this point. So, without evidence may claim is rejected. My list - Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle
*Everglades National Park was not too special on my visit. Checked out the Anhinga Trail but it was mostly a few waders and anhingas. American Crows and Black Vultures dominate the parking lot. Hiked the Snake Bight Trail which was not too troubled with mosquitoes or birds. The best viewing was a flock of American White Pelicans flying over-head and Broad-Winged Hawk soaring above the boardwalk at the Florida Bay terminus.. At Mrazak Pond we had Blue-Wing Teal, a female Northern Shoveler, a couple of Pied-Billed Grebes, and all the waders. At Flamingo we had the usual Ospreys, Bald Eagle and a lone Red-Breasted Merganser.
My list - Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Willet, Laughing Gull, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle
*Cutler Wetlands had a lot of ducks, mostly American Coots, Mottled Ducks and Blue-winged Teal. Might have ID'd more, but needed a scope. Hoping for american avocets, but settled for Long-Billed Dowitchers My list - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Northern Harrier, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Long-billed Dowitcher, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle
Cutler Dump Marsh is a location that featured a tropical kingbird in residence last year and had read that it had returned. But not today. Best sighting was a FOS Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.
My list - Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Coot, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Loggerhead Shrike, Palm Warbler

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back to Babcock-Webb

Hit the birding trail for the fourth day in a row, Tuesday, October 20th, by checking out Babcock-Webb WMA in Charlotte County. The location is famous for the big three rareities for south Florida of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow and Brownheaded Nuthatch and on the this trip I miss on all three.
Arrived about 8:45am and had quick hits on a Red-Tailed Hawk, sandhill Crane, Pine Warblers, Eastern Meadowlark and a Yellow-shafted Flicker. The birding slowed down from here on. Found lots of noisy Gray Catbirds and FOS House Wrens. Usually raptors aren't very plentifull here, but seems that migration was contining with sightenings of Red-Shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Broad-Winged Hawk and a couple of Sharp-Shinned Hawks. By 11;30 I was on my way home. Needed to get a much needed nap in before going into work
My list - Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to Lucky Hammock, The Everglades & Cutler Wetlands - October 19th


On Monday October 19th I still had the bug to cash-in on the big cold front fall-out in the Miami area that stung us on Sunday's hawk watch on Sanibel Island. I had the day off and arrangements had been made to free-up my time, so I ventured over to the east coast.
To reach my first stop by sunrise, I had to leave home at 4am. This stop was at what some birders call Lucky Hammock and The Annex on Aerojet Road. This just outside of the eastern entrance to Everglades National Park. The attached posting on the TAS message board, noted an exciting list of birding opportunities like White-Tail Kites, Short-Tail Hawks and Western, Eastern and Gray Kingbirds plus a Philadelphia Vireo. Arrived just before sun-up and drove the length of the road looking for any nighthawks or chucks-poor-widows. None found. But a Norther Harrier quickly arrived on sight and a roosting White-tailed Kite was noticed sitting atop a bush in the field. The kite soon took off in the early morning. Short-tailed Hawks began to show up and several, both light and dark were active in the area. It was still windy like Sunday which tends to keep many birds buried in the shrubbery, but the hammock area yielded some good birds. They included a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, several American Redstarts, a female Painted Bunting. A couple of pairs of Sandhill Cranes came in to the nearby fields.

The Annex area was not nearly as birdy because of the winds. Lots of Gray Catbirds were vocalizing but skulking in the brush. A a very late Gray Kingbird fought the winds in its effort to sit on the power lines. Never did find any eastern Kingbirds, but I did run into Larry Manfredi, who showed me were a Western Kingbird was sitting. The Gray and Western would be keeping each other company. Larry Manfredi is a noted local birder and guide. His web site is very valuable in the search for south Florida and Caribbean specialties. Larry spend a half hour with me, sharing information on the background to this location and how best to look for certain specialities. I would love to book a trip with him some day.

My list - Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Cardinal, Painted Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle

Probably are Short-billed Dowitchers
Enter Everglades national Park about 11:00am and spent the next four and half hours looking for birding hot-spots. They were not to be found here today. Took a stab at the Western Spindalis in Long Pine campgrounds, but not much of anything was found there. Not much was found anywhere. Ventured all the way to Flamingo were a few shorebirds and several Ospreys were present. Had a bald eagle soaring above Eco Pond. Noted several flocks of Wood Storks moving back into south Florida. Today there was a large American Crocodile basking on the shore across from the marina at Flamingo.
My list - Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee
Left the park for my final stop before heading the three hour drive home. Headed over to the Homestead-Cutler Ridge area to a site known as Cutler Wetlands, which is a surface water management sight. While sitting at a red light at US 1 in Homestead I was able to locate a pair of Common Mynas among the hundreds or so crows, grackles and starlings hanging out at the intersection, by the white spots under there wings as they flew from one resting spot to another.
The extreme variety of birdlife found at Cutler Wetlands makes it a must stop location. Past sightings have included sacred ibis, flamingo and yellow-headed blackbirds. Today we had Long-Billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spoonbills and Blue-Winged Teal.
My list - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Rock Pigeon

Sanibel Lighthouse Hawk Watch

Had been looking forward to the Audubon of Southwest Florida's Sanibel Lighthouse Hawk Watch for some time. Because of work I missed last year's event, but showed up the very next day to take a try on my own. Luckily I ran into Vince McGrath who had lead the prior day's hawk watch. This one-on-one was a great learning experience for me. We had well over 100 American Kestrels, a few Merlins, Peregrins and Ospreys. had a number of Sharp-Shinned Hawks and many Swallows. I think we even had a Bald Eagle.

My list for October 13, 2008 -Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Black Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Palm Warbler, Brown-headed Cowbird

So this year, we had a very nice cold front arriving right on time for this years scheduled hawk watch on Sunday October 18th, 8am - 10am. My debate was to show-up for the scheduled event or come on my own the following like last year due to the fact that I was getting off of work at 7:00am Sunday morning. Because of the potential bird fallout from the cold front was such a great opportunity I elected to struggle with my constant bane of sleep derivation and headed over to Sanibel Island on Sunday straight from work. The weather was very windy and chilly by Florida standards. But those strong winds had actually blown the birds away from southwestern Florida. Turns out Miami and Key West had outstanding birding that Sunday. So our birding was very slow. Very few song birds were on hand. Our first hwak arrived at 9:45am - a Sharp-Shined Hawk. By the time I left at 11am we had about 16 American Kestels, a dozen Sharp-Shinned Hawks, a couple of Broad-Winged Hawks and a few Ospreys were present. Also had about 6 Merlins with one individual we found very entertaining as it was aggressivelly interacting with another Merlin and the other hawks present. Prehaps those birders still on hand managed an outstanding sighting like a mississippi kite or something like that. You just never now when something exciting might show up. But not for me. It was time for some sleep for me.

My list - Brown Pelican, Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Rock Pigeon, Chimney Swift, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Boat-tailed Grackle

Monday, October 5, 2009

Birding Trip to Fort George Island - Jacksonville, Florida

Joined up with a Duval Audubon Society bird tour Saturday, October 3rd on Fort George Island, lead by National Park Service Ranger, Roger Clark. Excellent event. Started at dawn riverside at Kingley Plantation Preserve, over to Ribault Club, then to Huguenot Memorial Park ending at various roadside sites near to New Berlin Road. Had four lifers including Carolina Chickadee, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Great Black-Backed Gull and Clapper Rail (only heard several over the course of the day actually). I recorded 84 hits, but the group recorded 105 hits for the day. Ironically our final, but unrecordable birds were three mute swans found on an isolated lake in a half-built out subdivision.

My List for the Day--- Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Clapper Rail, Common Moorhen, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Sanderling, Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Baltimore Oriole

Kingsley Plantation and Ribault Club are a part of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve which is operated by the National Park Service. On the day we visited the local PBS station ran a documentary they created about this local National Park Service facility to compliment the the rollout of the Ken Burns "National Parks" documentary that PBS is now featuring. Our tour leader for the day was one of the national Park personal interviewed for the program.
The day following the Fort George Island event, my daughter and I ran up into Georgia to Crooked Lake State Park before heading heading back south to Ft Myers. Crooked Lake State park features salt marshes and upland forests.
We stayed for a couple of hours and the best sighting was a Hermit Thrush.
My list - Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, White Ibis, Osprey, Cooper's Hawk, Laughing Gull, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Boat-tailed Grackle

Monday, September 28, 2009

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Today Monday, September 28th, I arrived at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary just after daybreak. Spent the next four hours birding the boardwalk through this ancient cypress swamp. The sanctuary was hopping with four active species - Carolina Wren, White-Eyed Vireo, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and Common Grackles. Was hoping to hit on a major warbler fall-out. Did hit on five warblers - Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler, Nothern Parula, Yellowthroated Warbler and a female American Redstart. But no real fall-out today. Missed on reported Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush. Also missed were Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and Painted Bunting. But had two very good hits on other birds while stacking out the Bunting House feeder for bunting activities. Seems we had some migrants passing through as I had two Veery and a lifer with an excellent look at a Yellowthroated Vireo. Came across three FOS Gray Catbirds as well. Other sightings include Red-Shouldered Hawk, Great Crested Flycatchers, White Ibis (only waders in the swamp due to deep water), Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ft DeSoto Park

On Monday, September 21, 2009 my daughter Melissa and I traveled up to St Petersberg from Ft Myers to bird Ft DeSoto Park. The park is on Mullet Key near to the Skyline Bridge in Tampa Bay. We had a good birding day back last April during the spring migration. We missed out on having a great day like when birders hit the island during a "Fall-Out" of large flocks of exhausted migrants. But we did OK especially with the ficus tree at the headquarters building. Our list for that day included Mottled Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Egret, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Common Tern, Royal Tern, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Gray Catbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, American Redstart, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, House Sparrow

But as for a good fall migration day we seemed to be a bit early and had zero luck with only finding a few Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, a few eastern Kingbirds and a couple of Gray Kingbirds. However the shorebirds were very good. We easily found the resident Long-Billed Curlew and was happy to locate Caspian Terns at both the East Beach and North Beach locations. We don't see Caspian Terns down in Lee County. In fact I hit it as my lifer just last February over at STA-5 in Hendry County. It was a good day with terns with five species. It would have been nice to locate a Black Tern, but it is probably already too late in the season. I thought that I had a Lesser Black-Backed Gull at North Beach, but could not get a good viewing, but did have one perched on a pole road-side as we were leaving for the day. Again these gulls don't come further south to Lee County, so it was a good catch.

My list for this visit - Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, European Starling

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Update on the Yamata Scrub Least Grebe

The following was just posted on the FloridaBirds-L message board, by John Shelly
" One of the 4 Least Grebes that Dave & Lee Hasse discovered last year on9/21/08 is back at the north pond at Yamato Scrub which is about half amile east of the intersection of N. Congress and Clintmore Rd. in BocaRaton."
Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy these rare birds again.

To Twitch or Not To Twitch

This past winter, while visiting Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, I found myself in conversation with a Brit - I’ve met a lot of Brits here birding Florida - as we were waiting patiently at the Bunting House feeder for Painted Buntings to make an appearance. He proceeded to ask me if I Twitched. Not being familiar with the phrase, he explained that it was the chasing after a rare bird sighting. Hopefully to add it to your life list. My answer has to be yes. However, my handful of disappointments had begun to curb my twitching activities.
Sometime the chase was easy, like when I found a fresh posting on Birdbrains about a Scarlet Ibis at nearby Lakes Park in Ft Myers. Well within ten minutes we were out of the door and had my tick within a half-hour of reading the posting. Some other successes include Whooping Cranes, and Harris Sparrow in Paines Prairie, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in Florida City, A Ruff in Myakka State park, the Tropical Kingbird in Homestead, a Masked Duck in Lake City and Purple Sandpipers in Ponce Inlet
Sometimes the chase is a bust. Twice I headed to Ranch Road in Lake County to add the, easily locatable Says Phoebe, which is a rare vagrant to Florida and to the near by Lusk Road location for an Ash-Throated Flycatcher. Many people had successfully located the birds, but I wasn’t so lucky. The much posted about Fork-Tailed Flycatcher last November, that was hanging around the Pelican Island WMA, disappeared just prior to my arrival. I had also twice ventured to Key Largo looking for White-Crowned Pigeons and only found mosquitoes. Purple Swamphens were supposed to be easy to find in Pembroke Pines, but seems that the population had been removed as they are exotics.
Looked for Chestnut-Fronted Macaws and other parrots around Kendall- Miami area. Also missed Spotted Orioles and Red-Whiskered Bulbuls in Kendall several times. Also need to add my many failures at locating the Smooth-Billed Ani near the Ft Lauderdale airport.
So now I have to ask myself where to it is worthwhile to twitch on the latest rarities. I passed on the Greater Sand-Plover in Jacksonville due to distance and costs, being broke actually, which was a shame as many observers were also able to add Artic Terns to their life lists too. Now we are hearing about a rare vagrant pair of Sulphur-Bellied Flycatchers in the Annex area near the Everglades, were I was just a week earlier. But I don’t think I can head back anytime soon. So-to-twitch-or-not-to-twitch

Below is an excellent site for explaining about Twitching and other aspects of birding

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Western Spindalis and Least Grebes

On my Labor Day birding blitz I attempted to find the Western Spindalis that had been long reported at Long Pine campground in the Everglades National Park. The pair had nested and fledged three offspring, which was great as the Western Spindalis are actually vagrants from the Caribbean. They are not endemic to the US and are only occasional found in the Keys or along the southeast coast of Florida. Would have been a fantastic life-list hit. But upon my arrival I met a couple of folks at the correct spot, who were wearing protective anti-mosquito garb and netting, that it seems that they were reporting to those of us who were arriving in hopes of a grreat find that they were now gone. I knew that the fledglings had already moved along, but now the parents have left as well. Very disappointing. But future opportunities will arise. Please visit the links below for more information concerning the Western Spindalis stay in there Everglades.

Last fall we had better luck with another species from the Bahamas who had also set up house in Florida to raise a family. They were a pair of Least Grebes. Only a couple of earlier reports of Least Grebes were every noted in Florida. So the pair who had nested at Yamata Scrub Park in Boca Raton, was a big sensation. We visited the their pond on October 1, 2008 and again in January 2009. Sadly the family of four began disappearing one at a time till by Spring none were left. No idea were they went. Chances are they were victims of predation.

Links to items about the Western Spindalis

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Birding Blitz

My birding goals have been to reach a minimum count of a hundred species per month, which takes some work in the summer here in southwest Florida. I did manage it. Few interesting sighing over the summer include finding three Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks with a dozen newly hatched ducklings on the ponds at Domestic Ave, which have had been seen there before or since (where did they go?), Black Terns and Red Knots at Bunche Beach, and a couple of Shiny Cowbirds.
But now with migrations kicking-in I chose I set a goal of a hundred in one week. I had day-long blitzes on September first in Lee County and the seventh in Dade County. I hit most of the best birding spots locally as well as Everglades National Park (Snail Kites and Yellow Warblers and tons of mosquitoes) and Lucky Hammock in the South Glades-Frog Pond Wildlife Management Area ( good hits here included Alders Flycatcher and White-Tailed Kites. Just missed Least Flycatcher and a Short-Eared Owl seen by others just after I left).
I managed to hit the hundred

Muscovy Duck
Mottled Duck
Pied-Billed Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Reddish Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

White Ibis

Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture

White-tailed Kite
Snail Kite

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Crested Caracara
Common Moorhen

Black-bellied Plover

Wilson's Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover
American Oystercatcher

Spotted Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Red Knot

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher
Laughing Gull

Least Tern

Common Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern

Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Barred Owl

Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Alder Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird

Gray Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow

Fish Crow

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Northern Parula

Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler

American Redstart
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark

Common Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Sparrow
Common Myna