Friday, April 8, 2011

Groove-billed Ani - Boyd Hill Preserve

Tuesday, April 5th

The day was spent in hopes of a fall-out of spring migrants and a chase after three reported Florida rarities.
The weather for the day was a strong, rainy cold front to sweep down the state, which can result in migrants being forced to land and wait out the winds. So I was heading to Ft DeSoto Park in Tampa Bay.  But first were stops at Cockroach Bay Road, near Ruskin for reported upland plover and white-faced ibis and then to Boyd Hill Preserve in St Petersburg for a reported Grooved-billed Ani.

Cockroach Bay Road
Arrived about 8:30 just before the rains and spent a couple of hours in searching through the sod fields for the upland plover and sorting through the Glossy Ibis for a white-faced ibis. Didn't locate either of these birds but find a trio of Gull-billed Terns working over the mitigation ponds and six Forster's Terns at rest in the sod fields along with hundred Laughing Gulls, a few Ring-billed Gulls, several Ospreys, a dozen Black-bellied Plovers and lone Dunlin. The ponds held about twenty Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Dowitchers, Solitary Sandpiper, Coots, Moorhens, a couple of Redhead ducks, dozens of Blue-wing Teal and Lesser Scaups. Plus a half a dozen Black-bellied Whistling Ducks Also had all of the waders - Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, White Ibis etc. A large Red-tailed hawk was hunting the fields and Bald Eagle was observed toting some kind of recent kill.

An Armadillo sculpture at Boyd Hill Preserve
Boyd Hill Preserve -
St Petersburg

I had never been to this location before, but it is becoming very popular for spot for birders in search of the Grooved-billed Ani. The bird is a lifer for me and the possibility of finding one so close to home was an opportunity I could not pass up. Arrived about 10:45 as the rain was letting up. Paid my entrance fee and received directions and maps to the ani's favorite spot. The preserve was very quite. But managed to locate a Black-crowned Night-heron hiding along the lake shore. Had several Anhingas, lots of Ospreys and a trio of Nanday Parakeets. By eleven o'clock I had arrived at the spot and after about five minutes of scouting the area the ani flew right to my feet. Seems the bird is fearless of people and uses the opportunity to feed on the insects stirred up by our shoes. Got great looks. Hope it sticks around.

Fort DeSoto County Park

After lunch with my daughter and son-in-law headed over to Fort DeSoto. After seeing little evidence of any kind of migration action at Boyd Hill I did not expect much at Fort DeSoto, which is a migrant magnet. First stopped at the ponds in Tierra Verde to see if any ducks were still around. Was surprised to find two pair of Ruddy Ducks with several Lesser Scaups  still on hand. One of the adults Bald Eagles could be seen in the nest tree. On the causeway to the park I was able to spott acouple of FOS Least Terns

Red-breasted Merganser out for a stroll

Willet in breeding plumage

Reddish Egret

Forster's Terns

Marbled Godwit

My camera is not fast enough to capture the wing action on this hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird at rest
Western Sandpiper
At Fort DeSoto, the East Beach area was very birdy with shore birds including Forster's Terns, Western and Least Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets, Dunlins and a Marbled Godwit. Several Red-breasted Mergansers were seen off-shore and a resting merganser was located on the shore. Here I ran into John Mangold and joined him in checking out the Privit Trail.  There we met with Dan Irizarry.  I had ran into John previously at Merritt Island and Six-mile Cypress Slough and I had seen Dan's postings and photos many times on Birdbrains.
Next we moved on to the mulberry trees near the pier, which can been a very good location for birds. It was here that I had my lifer in a blackburian warbler last spring. Today we only had hits on a male Hooded Warbler, several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and a White-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos.  Plus another trio of Nanday Parakeets.  From here I joined John with checking out the North Beach area. and could only add a lone Herring Gull and a beautiful male Orchard Oriole. Seems the migration hasn't hit its stide yet.

Days List (78) - Black-belled Whistling Ducks, Mottled Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double-crested Cormorant. Anhinga, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Osprey, Bald eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Solitary sandpiper, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Least Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mouring Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Nanday parakeet, Groove-billed Ani, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Hooded Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Northern cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Orchard Oriole.

1 comment:

  1. The Pinellas County website for Fort De Soto Park indicates that the best Spring migration activity is from the second week in April through the first week of May (and under the ideal weather conditions you've described).