Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pine Warblers - Lee County

Tuesday February First

Elected to bird Harn's Marsh and Alva this morning.  It was a nice day especially compared to the heavy snows and cold weather our family and friends are experiencing up-north.  Began the day with a stop on nearby Domestic Street to check the ponds for ducks and the shrub for sparrows.  Found the ponds much emptier than expected. Not as many American Coots were present as I have noticed these past few weeks, and no ducks. Perhaps later in the mourning they will arrive. And no sparrows.  A few Palm Warblers and a calling Eastern Meadowlark were noted.
Pine Warbler photographed at Hickey Creek Preserve
Had to stop at the bank by the I-75 rest stop area, which gave me an opportunity for a quick check of the wetlands located there and got to see Greater and a Lesser Yellowlegs fly-in. 
From here headed to Alva to look for woodpeckers and buntings. Stopped by the Hickey Creek Preserve, which was on the way, to check for any red-headed woodpeckers and Florida scrub jays.  Did not see the woodpecker or jays but had great views of Eastern Phoebes and Pine Warblers. I have had very few successful results from trying to photograph small, active birds like warblers. Just have a point and shoot camera.  So I was happy with the results of the pine warblers photos, as they let me get close enough and would pose long enough for the shot.

Stopped by the White's house in Alva to view their feeders and the gracious Mr White came out to say hello.  Noted the many Painted and Indigo Buntings present along with a trio of White-winged Doves. Didn't see any goldfinch's, but Mr White did assure me that they were still around.
Red-headed Woodpecker found in Alva, Florida.
Checked the nearby pasture for the Red-headed Woodpecker. Had a chance to get a photo of the bird as it investigated a telephone pole, but it would not pose and flew back into the pasture.  Had to settle for for photos from further away.  Also seen here were American Kestrel, Sandhill Crane, European Starlings, Boat-tailed Grackles, Eastern Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Mockingbird and Limpkin. Down the road I was able to add a Blue-headed Vireo at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park

Hundreds of Tree Swallows in a huge swirling flock in LeHigh Acres, Florida
Came across this huge ball of swirling Tree Swallows as I came into LeHigh Acres.  Could of been a thousand birds.  As I arrived at Harn's Marsh I could see that hundreds of Tree Swallows were present as well. 
A mud turtle interrupted on its way to the water at Harn's Marsh
The water was higher than on my last visit, and I not sure if it had an effect on the Snail Kites  Just that they seemed less numerous as I only saw two from a distance. If the apple snails they consume diminish, the kites will spread out.  But the Limpkins, who also survive on apple snails, were very numerous today.
Apple Snail Shells, remnants from Snail Kite meals
Still had numerous American Coots and large numbers of Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups, and Pied-billed Grebes. Only saw a couple of Mottled Ducks today  and a pair of Sandhill Cranes are nesting in the middle of the marsh. All of the usual waders were still present Great Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Egrets, Glossy Ibis, and White Ibis. Killdeer would rise up and noisily fly off as you approach too closely, just as the Wilson's Snipe would rise up silently. The only other raptors seen aside the snail kites was a soaring Bald Eagle and lone American Kestrel
A Little Blue Heron at Harn's Marsh
I will eventually add a page on this blog with directions to my favorite birding spots in southwest Florida, as I have meet several people who were visiting Harn's Marsh for the first time complaining on how hard it is to find. I believe that Lee County is working on plans to develop this location for better public access. A good idea as I have met birders from all over the USA, Canada and overseas.  Maybe we could look at developing something like The Celery Fields in Sarasota.

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