Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Magnolia Warbler at Sanibel Lighthouse

Tuesday, May 17th

Small Gopher Tortoise at Sanibel Lighthouse

Vince McGrath posted on Birdbrains about finding several interesting migrants at Sanibel Lighthouse. I could not get there till the following afternoon and did not know what to expect. I was only able to locate a single warbler, a beautiful male Magnolia Warbler. He was located several times in the area of the beach parking lot near to the owl tree. Other sightings included several Red-eyed Vireos, a trio of Eastern Kingbirds, and my first sighting of year of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. A Bank Swallow was seen as I was leaving the island. Lots of colorful butterflies and the a small gopher tortoise too.

Black-belled Plover
On the way home made a quick stop at Bunche Beach.  I had joined up with the Lee County Bird Patrol walk here last Sunday evening and had noted a big drop-off in numbers and it was the same today.  Most have left for their breeding grounds up in northern Canada and Alaska. Mostly seen were a few Black-bellied Plovers, a Wilson's Plover, several Semipalmated Plovers, a few Willets, Dunlins, Ruddy Turnstones and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Several Least Terns were seen and a lone Royal Tern, a few Laughing Gulls and Brown Pelicans.Totaly missing were short-billed dowitchers, piping plovers, american oystercatchers and marbled godwits.


Semipalmated Sandpiper

Ruddy Turnstone

Egyptian Geese - Pembroke Pines

Tuesday May 10th

Spent my Tuesday birding in Broward County on the hunt for any spring migrant birds. Connecticut warblers were being reported as well as a  Bahama mockingbird at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Ft Lauderdale. Also checked out Evergreen Cemetery in Ft Lauderdale and then to Pembroke Pines to look for Egyptian Geese. These geese turned out to be about the most numerous birds located as I counted eleven at the Pembroke Pines Golf Course.
Egyptian Geese seen at the Pembroke Pines golf course

But first was a stop at about 8:30 at Birch State Park in Ft Lauderdale.  Was given the location the last known location of the Bahama mockingbird at the park entrance. The place was not birdy at all.  Had to work for what I was able to find and did waste some time in trying to turn a juvenile Northern Mockingbird into the sought after Bahama.

Did find a pair of Nanday Parakeets and a flock of five Monk Parakeets. Several Chimney Swifts were flying overhead and a couple of Carolina Wrens and a female American redstart were found along the trail were the mockingbird was seen. Was lucky to come to a fig tree along the inter-coastal waterway were a sampling of warblers were seen - Northern Parula, Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, and Common Yellowthroat.  It was just a sampling of one or two of each species.

By lunch time I had left for Evergreen Cemetery, which was located close by and had been a place were some very good bird sightings had been reported. I only found the expected urban birds, White Ibis, fish Crows, European Starlings,Common Grackles, Boat-tailed Grackles, Muscovy Ducks, Eurasian Collared Doves, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals and Northern Mockingbirds

 Then I wrapped up the trip with a visit to my Mom's former neighborhood in Pembroke Pines in search of the Egyptian Geese and the large iguanas seen along the canal that separated the condo property from the golf course.  Did not see the lizards but came up with the geese, a Green Heron, an Anhinga, more Monk Parakeets and White-winged Doves.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Anhingas at Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Small alligator on the hunt

Friday, May 6th

Ventured over to Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve Friday afternoon to see if migrating warblers were confused and actually stopped in for a visit. Only heard a couple of Northern Parula, but the best birds for the day were the nesting Anhingas.  Across the lake in the heron roosting area were at least six active anhinga nests with noisy offspring.  At least one Great Egret nest was seen as well.The reptiles were a bit more interesting with a small gator on the hunt for dinner right alongside of the boardwalk and a large water moccasin spotted as well.

water moccasin

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whimbrels at Bunche Beach

Wednesday, May 4th

Black-bellied Plover
Checked out Bunche Beach this morning and noticed that the Black-bellied Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers and Dunlins are changing into their breeding colors. Present were good numbers of Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers and Dunlins. Missing were wilson's plover, piping plover and marbled godwits.

Did locate a group of five Whimbrels along a quite streach of the beach.  But they took off heading north, flying in a follow-the-leader fashion.
Day's List (21) - Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Willet, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Black Skimmer, Prairie Warbler, Northern Cardinal

Bobolinks and Pelicans - a visit to Harn's Marsh

Tuesday, May 3rd

I wasn't able to get out for some birding till the afternoon.  Headed over to Harn's Marsh in Lehigh Acres with the idea of seeing if any migrating Bobolinks could be found.  Had a seen a flock there a year ago.  Plus last week I had see a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks close to the parking area.  Maybe they were still around.

First checked out the activity of at the Harn's Marsh School entrance. Counted at least eight Snail Kites, most were juveniles. Limpkins were everywhere. Also present were the usual waders including Little Blue Herons, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egrets and a Sandhill Crane. The nearby cypress stand provided a pair of Northern Parula and a Yellow-throated Warbler
Limpkins were very numerous
At the 38th Street entrance, the water level at the marsh has become much lower lately, exposing a growing amount of the muddy bottom. This developed into two good birding experiences.  First was that were several shore birds, including Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeers a Semipalmated Plover and a Pectoral Sandpiper were located.  If I had a scope, might have found more.  Secondly, there was a huge concentration of wading birds in one corner of the marsh, including Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Glossy and White Ibis, at least a hundred Great Egrets, attracted to the concentration  of their prey.
Bobolinks would not allow a close enough approach for a good picture
 My big surprise is the presence of at least five American White Pelicans.  Had not ever seen them there before.  Probably a group of juveniles not interested it migration to the breeding grounds.
Wood Storks

Roseate Spoonbill
 Present was a family of Sandhill Cranes with a pair of colts. And as for the Boblinks, I did find a flock of of sixteen moving between the the brush alongside the road and cattails in the marsh.
Sandhill Crane family

Was surprised to find American White Pelicans

A great many birds were concentrating in the shrinking pools
My Day's List (38) - Mottled Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Snail Kite, Common Moorhen, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Tern, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Boat-tailed Grackle

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Philadelphia Vireo - back to Ft DeSoto

Friday April 29th

Returned to Ft DeSoto for a third try in April at sighting any spring migrants.  The weather held potential for some numbers to make land-fall here. But alas, some good sightings were made, but the numbers were very low.  And those good sightings required some work.

Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Arrived about 9:00 am and ran into several disappointed birders.  After checking a couple of locations I ran into John Mangold and the birding poet, Jeff Hooks. Just before running into these guys I had found a cluster of birds in an area which proved to be a hot spot for the day. Had a Palm Warbler, a flock of about ten Indigo Buntings, a Yellow Warbler and an unidentified thrush. Earlier John, Jeff, Ron Smith and another birder named Tom had great views of a pair of male golden-winged warblers there. So I joined with John and Jeff to try and relocate the golden-wings. Would have been a lifer for me, but we did get great looks at a couple of Black-throated Green Warblers, an Eastern Wood-pewee,  more Indigo Buntings, a Prairie Warbler and a female Blackpoll Warbler. 
We split up about eleven o'clock and I returned to the mulberry trees near the pier. I had checked it out earlier and had not seen anything.  On my return to this spot, I sat and waited for any activity that is usually centered around the water feature. Almost immediatelly had several birds come in to get a drink. Started with a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, then more Indigo Buntings, a female Hooded Warbler, a FOS Eastern Kingbird, a rarely seen Philadelphia Vireo - Lifer!! and a very large raccoon.  Even had a White Ibis and a Laughing Gull come for a drink. The Nanday Parakeets were also noisy visitors to the area as well. 
Link to photo by Jeff Hooks on his blog of a Philadelphia Vireo he photographed on a later date at Ft DeSoto.
Had to head for home by 2:00  when I noted a Gray Kingbird and a lone Brownheaded Cowbird on the wires. An earlier check of the Teirra Verde ponds still had very small numbers of Lesser Scaups, Redheads, Pied-billed Grebes and a lone male Ruddy Duck. And  even earlier, on the drive up to St Peterburg, I checked the campsite road along the south shore of Webb Lake at Babcock-Webb in Charlotte County. Not to much was found but for a very out-of-place juvenile Snail Kite seen sitting on a snag.  Over all it was a good day.