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