This past weekend, August 8th and 9th, I had extra shifts to cover at work because of co-workers taking vacation time. But one reward for me was some cool birding observations I was able to have because of work. It started on Saturday morning as I was heading home from work. First was a trio of Wild Turkeys hanging out on the access road. It is not unusual to find them on this road, but it had been a long time for me because of my work schedule hours. Yet it got better as I arrived at the stop sign on Airport-Haul Road at Alico Road. To my left was a flock of about a hundred Brown-Headed Cowbirds gleaning seed from a freshly mowed patch of weeds and grass. I thought that it was cool see such a large flock of these birds in August, but then it hit me to survey the flock closely for any Shiny Cowbirds. I hit on two suspects and was able to get a great look at one of them and yes, it was a male shiny cowbird. A lifer for me. Seems that the shiny cowbirds are still very uncommon , but that they are becoming more evident. You would usually need to look for them more closely around the Keys, or around the everglades and even around Naples, Florida. So finding them here in Lee County is a good find. This flock of cowbirds were located at the same spot and at the same time for three days in a row, and the shiny cowbird was relocated on that third sighting of the flock. Cool.
On my way home I planned on squeezing in a very quick trip to Bunche Beach as I needed to get some sleep due to a quite run-around to get back to work by 7 PM. I made a fast stop at Domestic Ave to check out the Burrowing Owls. I was also able to add Purple Martins and Barn Swallows, plus Mottled Ducks and Eastern Meadowlarks, but no Common Nighthawks this time.
At Bunche Beach I was able to add Black Skimmers, Black Terns, Forsters Tern, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Least Terns and Laughing Gulls. Also on hand were Reddish Egrets, Common Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Little Blue Herons, Spoonbills, Brown Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants, Anhinga ( on the drive over), Ospreys, a Yellow-Crowned Nightheron, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Semipalmated Plovers, a single Piping Plover, lots of sander lings, western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Marbled Godwits, Willets, Ruddy Turnstones and Short-Billed Dowitchers. Pretty good for twenty minutes. Missed out on the Long-Billed Curlew.
On the way back to work later in the day, found the trio of turkeys hanging out on the road. Had a visitation at work by our Barred Owl, plus the small herd of white-tailed deer were found in their usual location near the plant. A trio of wild hogs were to show up as well.
On Sunday at about 7:30PM a kettle of around 30 plus, Swallow-Tailed Kites were seen over the woods to our east, at work in a location called Wild Turkey Strand Preserve. I reported this big staging of kites to The Center for Birds of Prey (http://www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/swallowtail/swallowtail.html) as they are collecting data on the movements of these birds. I had not seen such a large concentration of kites before. The most That I could recall were about eight birds.
Earlier on Sunday, I made a quick drive out toward the Collier County line looking for White-Winged Doves. Did not find the doves but did find Eastern Towhees at the Crew Marsh area and had a pair of Crested Caracaras and a trio of Sandhill Cranes on the way back toward home
So considering my heavy work schedule over the week I managed to also have a great birding weekend.