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.

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