Thursday, June 18, 2009

Little Estero Lagoon and Snowy Plovers

Following a brief storm, this past Tuesday, headed over to Ft Myers Beach to check out the birding at Little Estero Lagoon. Was looking for a few target birds to help reach my minimum goal of 100 species for June. Was up to 90 after visiting Babcock-Webb Wildlife management Area on Monday. Good hits at Babcock included Bald Eagle, Red-Cockated Woodpeckers, Bachman's Sparrow, Eastern Towhees, Sandhill Cranes and a day-time surge of Common Nighthawks.

Arrived at Little Estero Lagoon about noon and already had a Gray Kingbird on the wires outside of the nearby Holiday Inn. Quickly located a Great and Snowy Egrets. Also had a pair of American Oystercatchers and several Wilson's Plovers, including a pair of chicks on the flats. Further down the beach was able to add Semipalmated and Back-bellied Plovers, a Reddish Egret, non-breading Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, Least, Sandwich and Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans and Double-Crested Cormorants. Had some Magnificent Frigatebirds fly in as well. Best hit for the day was a couple of Snowy Plovers, which are lifers for me. I have been here on several occasions looking for endemic snowy plovers and had always missed out. But not today.

Little Estero is a protected shorebird habitat. Special efforts are made for the protection of nesting sea turtles, least terns and snowy plovers. These nesting sites are roped-off to keep beach goers from disrupting these sites. However, the least terns are very aggressive in defending their territories. Fact is that they are claiming much more of the beach than what is roped-off, by dive-bombing and attempting to deficate on your head.

Overall, it was a good birding day and was able to get seven new birds for the month. Only need three more to hit my hundred.

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