Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Visit to Bunche Beach

Because I had to missed yesturdays Bird Patrol visit to Bunche Beach, I headed out there right from work at about 7:30 am. The tide was falling and many migrants have arrived. A good variety of shore birds. Found some of my goals including the reported Long-Billed Curlew, a Forster's Tern and a Piping Plover. Did find the following 41 species -----

Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis,Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, White-eyed Vireo,Northern Cardinal

Was suprised to find a calling White-Eyed Vireo in the bushes back of the beach and recieved some help from another birder I met at the beach in id'ing the peeps, which is always the challenge. All-in-all a good days birding at the beach. Other good sightings for the day include the Barred Owl at work and the Burrowing Owls, Bobwhite, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Nighthawks and Purple Martins at Domestic Avenue in San Carlos Park.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Birding in Gladys County

Today, being a day off from work, elected to do some early morning birding. Started at home were I observed that some birds are starting to flock, namely Grackles and Fish Crows. My plan was to head up to Route 29 north of LaBelle, Florida. My targets were Sandhill Cranes, American Crows, Florida Scrub Jays and Crested Caracara.
Begin the trip with a quick stop at Domestic Ave, off of Alico Road here is south Lee County. Found the Burrowing Owls, Eastern Meadowlarks, Mourning Doves, Ground Doves and Purple Martins. No sign of the bobwhite or common nighthawks.
Next stop was just west of Alva, Florida. A Red-Headed Woodpeckers nest is found in a pasture along Parkinson Road, just off of North River Road. The birds were easily located within seconds as one woodpecker came to the hole to be greeted by another. Red-Headed Woodpeckers are very uncommon in South Florida. They prefer an environment with large oaks, which is also prime Florida real estate for developers. The pasture also contained a family of Sandhill Cranes and several Eastern Meadowlarks.
Ran up the road to check out the Caloosahatchee River State Park were I had hits on White-Eyed Vireo and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers. Added Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Cardinal, but did not stay long as I still had a ways to go. However, I had to pause along N River Road again as I was passing the Red-Headed Woodpeckers pasture as three of these birds were dashing around a dead oak right next to the road. My guess is it was a territorial issue. Either a new stranger on the block or a juvenile needing to move along.

Proceeded up Route 80 to LaBelle and then northeast on Route 29. If you want to search for Crested Caracaras, this stretch of road is a good place to start. I got this advise from personnel at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary many years ago. Actually only came up with a couple of sandhill cranes, several American Crows (Only Fish Crows are found in my neighborhood) and lots of Black and Turkey Vultures were present.

No luck on the caracaras, so turned west onto Route 78. In Gladys County now, which is cattle country in this area. Got a hit on a Florida Scrub Jay sitting up on top of a scrub oak tree. Further down on the right is a family of Wild Turkeys. At Route 731 turned north looking for white-winged doves. No doves so turned back for home.

Back onto 78 found more wild turkeys included an extremely large family group standing in the road. Finally located a Crested Caracara on the ground on the east side of the road and located a second bird sitting on a fence post near the roadkill carcass of a small alligator. With the addition of these hits, my month count for July is up to 87. Need 13 more to hit goal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Arrived just at sunrise at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County, with the intention of locating the endemic Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers. Babcock-Webb contains a population of these endangered birds which are best found around their nest holes either at sunrise or sunset. These nest hole trees are well labeled with white rings painted on the tree trunks as well as the nest colonies being mapped out for those seeking this rare bird. My last four trips to Babcock-Webb had been fruitful in locating multiple RCW sightings. I have to thank Jeff Bouton for his informative emails on how best to find the birds. First step is to be at the nest sight at sunrise and then to listen closely for the squeaky voice of the emerging birds.

Upon arrival at BW the bird life was already vocal and active. Least Terns were seen harassing Sandhill Cranes on an island in Webb Lake and Common Nighthawks, Bachman's Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Pine Warblers, Bobwhites and Eastern Meadowlarks and be heard as I drove to the nearest RCW colony site, which had been so fruitful for me. However, today I was not able to locate any of the woodpeckers. Thought that I could hear, very faintly, a RCW vocalize, but was not able to find the bird.

Other good sightings at BW today were several Bald Eagles (adults and juveniles), a Greater Yellowlegs on Webb Lake and a couple of Brown-Headed Nuthatches. Besides missing the RCW, I also had the eastern kingbird and Florida kestrel on my wish list for this visit, but did not have any sightings.

My count at BW today was 36:
Species List: Northern Bobwhite, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Tern, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Common Nighthawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Purple Martin, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird,
Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Bachman's Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle andBoat-tailed Grackle
Full-screen Babcock Webb WMA, Charlotte County, Flor Latitude = 26.828819 Longitude = -81.964230

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Snowy Plover Adopting Least Tern Chick

Found this today on the IBET (IL Birders Exchanging Thoughts) message board concerning a baby least tern being adopted by a snowy plover.

Here is the site:

The IBET posting is at May need to enroll to the list for access. It is very informative on Illinois birding. I used a lot of information from watching this to locate
knowledgeable birders and the best locations for my visit to the Chicago area. Good grassland species to be found. I had around 20 lifers on my visit.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Earliest Fall Arrival Dates

Was reviewing some of my records as to when I first located various Fall Arrivals to Lee County, Florida. The following is a short chart of some species arrivals. These species general remain local through the winter and are not necessarilly migrating through. These dates are from my own personal observation.

Western Sandpipers -July 11, 2008

Piping Plovers - July 11, 2008

Least Sandpipers - July 24, 2008

Yellow-Throated Warblers - August 27, 2008

Belted Kingfisher - September 08, 2008

House Wrens - September 22, 2008

Gray Catbirds - September 27, 2008

American Kestral - September 27, 2008

Palm Warbler - October 04, 2008

Yellow-Rumped - Warbler October 14, 2008

Eastern Phoebe - October 20, 2008

Blue-Winged Teal - October 26, 2008

Northern Harrier - November 16, 2008

Savanna Sparrow - November 17, 2008

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Banded Piping Plover

At the urging of Bruce, who owns the web sight I use for posting my bird sightings, I sent the following to Greg Pavelk concerning a banded piping plover I photographed at Bunche Beach

Well today, May 3, 2009, I got a very good look a banded piping plover, photo attached, at Bunche Beach in Lee County (Ft Myers) Florida. I was usually able to locate these plovers on most visits, till recently. I have been assuming that most have already left for the north. The one today was well decorated with bands and flags. When facing the bird, the right leg has an orange flag at the top of the leg and two bands at the bottom - top one is yellow with an orange band in the middle and the lower band is black. The left leg, has a metal band on the upper leg and a lite green band at the bottom.
Hope this helps.

Greg responded
Dear Tom,

Thank you for your report and photo. The orange flag is a regional marker for piping plovers banded on the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes ploversare the rarest of the three piping plovers populations. Of the approximately8,000 piping plovers documented during the 2006 International Piping PloverCensus, only 110 were from the Great Lakes. I will forward your e-mail to theUniversity of Minnesota researchers that banded the plover. They should be able to provide you with additional information as when and where the ploverwas banded and any life history they have on the bird.

Bruce and his wife Rosemary now live in New Zealand. Bruce is aprogram manager for the NZ Department of Conservation. Rosemary also worksfor the Department of Conservation, managing the captive rearing program. Oneof the species she works with is the shore plover, of which there are lessthan 250 in existence. She has her work cut out for her. Thanks again for the report.
Greg Pavelka
Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Then I recieved this email from the University of Minnesota
Hi Tom,
Thank you so much for the sighting and the great photo! This bird was captive-reared at the University of Michigan Biological station. The original nest was located on North Manitou Island. Thanks again!
Kelsi Hunt (plover undergraduate student)
I have found bandings on other plovers, a pelican, spoonbill and red-cockaded woodpeckers, but this is the first time I was able to follow-up on reporting a sightings. Very pleasing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today starts a new month and a new bird count. As of 1am this mourning my first bird for July is a pair of Barred Owls hanging out at my work. A good start.

June ended with just 103 different birds observed. My year list is 243 plus 5 non-countable birds (Egyptian Geese - Pembroke Pines, Fla, Swamp Hens - STA5 Water Management Site, Black-Hooded parakeet - Ft DeSoto Park & Florida City, and Mitred & Yellow-Chevron Parakeets - Kendall, Fl).

My life list is at 260 birds plus the 5 non-countables.

In June, besides backyard, neighborhood, and workplace sightings, we visited , all in Florida, Six Mile Cypress Slough, Bunche Beach, Harns Marsh, Crew Marsh, Wild Turkey Strand Preserve, Pine Island, Florida, Matheson Hammock park, Cutler Ridge, Florida, University of Miami campus, Kendall Baptist Hospital, and Babcock-Webb WMA. Some of my best sightings were Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers, breeding least terns and Wilson's plovers, and Snowy Plovers are new lifers for me. Enjoyed finding the parrots in Kendall - Monk, Mitred and Yellow-Chevroned, and watching the Burrowing Owl family on Domestic St. A Purple martin roost has developed on the high-tension wires on Domestic St as well. Very special are the soaring, as many as eight at a time, Swallowtailed Kites observed at work in late afternoons. The Nighthawks remain active at my work and at Domestic Street.