Tuesday morning, my daughter and I headed out at day break to check a new area for us. We were going over toward Palm Beach County and the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Belle Glade and South Bay, to look for newly arriving shorebirds, terns and swallows.
Late summer is the time to check the flooded fields and sod farms. It was a little early yet, but reports were starting to show up on the message boards. Our goal was Brown's farm Road south of Belle Glade. The one problem with venturing to a new area, cold so to speak, is that you can waste a lot of time and energy, that those experienced on the site would avoid. So for us that was the case. A good day but not too much that I could not have found near home. No doubt our inexperience, here, was our problem. we missed on almost all of the species we were looking for.
We started with a quick stop in Alva and got Wood Duck, Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, all because I already knew were to look. Next I wanted to check out a good site off US29 in Gladys County to look for scrub jays and wild turkeys. But the US29 bridge over the Caloosahatchee River was closed for repairs. Took an alternative route which added time. A waste of time. No jays or turkeys. Did get Black Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, American Crow, Eastern Towhee, and Eastern Meadowlark. Found two caracaras with one being harassed by a towhee. Had four swallow-tailed kites. The crows appeared very scruffy as they were experiencing a molt.
Continued on eastward on Rt 80/US27 toward Clewiston. Between Moore Haven and Clewiston, had to have seen sixty swallow-tailed kites including a kettle of about twenty birds.
Next checked out Griffin Road west of Clewiston were we found several Common Nighthawks resting on the wires, plus a pair of Gray Kingbirds and a lone Barn Swallow. Later at the picnic area were bronzed cowbirds were found last winter, by the Lake Okeechobee boat ramp we found a couple of Cormorants, Laughing Gulls and a lot of Boat-tailed Grackles. Was hoping to find the eastern kingbirds I found here a few weeks ago, but not today. In town were the usual Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows.
There is a cypress stand located off of US27 and along the Miami Canal on RT827 that is noted for roosting barn owls. This is one of my nemeses birds and that status was maintained, after driving this narrow lane miles through the sugar cane fields to the location. Did spot several more resting nighthawks, soaring swallow-tailed kites and wading birds in the adjacent ditches, but we did not see any owls. They were probably there, I just could not spot any birds at all in the stand.
From here we found the Brown's Farm Road and traveled south 14 miles till it turned to a gravel road and as it was already past our time to head back home. We turned around here. Needed to arrive earlier to more thoroughly explore the area as we obviously missed the reported flooded fields. We did find small flocks of resting Purple Martins and Bank Swallows, and at a flooded area along some high-power lines we found a few Black-necked Stilts and a few waders. But not the long list of reported sandpipers, dowitchers and whistling ducks. Nor any black or gull-billed terns at the sod farms along US27.
Thought I had king rail out in the open, but it was really a juvenile Green Heron in a hunkered down postion. Also had a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. Did find a large number of Wood Storks, White Ibis, Great Egrets and such concentrating on a particular ditch in one of the sod farms. Had to have been a close to a hundred birds.
My List - (41) Wood Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Laughing Gull, Black-necked Stilt, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Common Nighthawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Mockingbird, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Gray Kingbird, Fish Crow, American Crow, Eastern Towhee, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Eastern Meadowlard, House Sparrow