Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marsh Wren

-A Visit to Babcock-Webb Wildlife Mangaement Area
Tuesday December 21st

Red-cockaded Woodpecker
 I try to visit Babcock-Webb on a monthly basis and during hunting season check the calendar to avoid visiting on a scheduled hunting day.  Right now it is small game season, but not on Tuesdays. So Tuesday morning I am on site at Babcock to witness several of the endangered, Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers exiting their nest holes just after sunrise. The temperatures at dawn are at 45degrees, the sky is clear and the moon in full. Seems that I slept through today's lunar eclipse on this Winter Solstice day.  I am standing in the middle of Oilwell Grade road, within the red-cockaded colony sight, which has marked nest trees on both sides of the lane. There are a number of these marked colony sights at babcock, but this is the closest to the main entrance. On schedule the birds emerge and start there day.  There are three and each starts there squeaky calling as the peek their heads out of the nest hole. Getting a weather report and exchanging remarks with their neighbors.  Then whoosh, they are out, checking nearby trees for a quick meal and will forage for a while, then off they go.
Eastern Meadowlark singing atop a pine tree
Moving on from the woodpecker colony I was able the sight an American Kestrel sitting in the same tree that it was noticed in last month. Could hear Sandhill Cranes several time and Eastern Towhees as well.  Odd that I never did spot any today.  Heard several House Wrens and was able to see a couple of them. Found a few mixed feeding flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, Pine Warblers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds and three Brown-headed Nuthatches. Spooked a Great Horned Owl near Crooked Lake and saw about four Northern Harriers. Other raptors experienced here was hearing the call of a Red-shouldered Hawk an a kettle of five immature Bald Eagles soaring near Webb Lake.
Eastern Meadowlark were seen and heard through-out the property. Sparrows were seen mostly in wet fields, as were Common Yellowthroats. Primarily Savannah Sparrows and found a single Swamp Sparrow  in the brush along the Seaboard Grade road. In that brushy spot, had a couple of the common yellowthroats and a surprise of a Marsh Wren. Marsh and sedge wrens are nemesis birds for me. This was only second sighting of a marsh wren, the first in Florida and I have yet to identify a sedge wren.
Northern Mockingbird
Was also pleased to find a Grasshopper Sparrow along Tram Grade road.  I initially tried to identify it as a bachman's sparrow, but that white strip atop the crown on this bird marked it as a grasshopper sparrow.  Besides missing on the bachman's sparrow today were red-tailed hawk and northern bobwhite.
Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow
The refuge camping area was overflowing with tents, campers and swamp buggies. Lots of sportsman on sight for the various hunting activities here. The white-board at the check-in sight listed the game that had been taken so far this season. I recall seeing that seventy-six deer had been harvested along with four hundred plus hogs, over sixteen-hundred snipe and about six hundred quail. Also listed were small numbers of other animals harvested including raccoons, squirrels and coyotes etc.
Palm Warbler

Eastern Phoebe
My List -(55)
Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egre, Little Blue Heron,Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture,Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestre, Common Moorhen, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Tree Swallow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, House Wren, Marsh Wre, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle

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