June can be a very slow birding month in Florida. The wintering birds are gone, the spring migration is over and the early fall migrants don't start showing up till mid-July. Many of the serious Florida birders conducted a contest on a county basis, just to keep birding interesting during the lull. I think it was pretty close between Pinellis County and Dade County. I did not really participate, but got a 95 count for Lee County. My count for June which included my trip to Illinois came to 158. But on the last day of June I elected to have a Big Day.
One goal for the year was to get a tick on a Mississippi Kite. I had figured on going up to Paynes Prairie near Gainesville to look for the kite, acadian flycatchers and summer tanagers. Needed all of these for my year list.
But reports on Birdbrains.com described a reliable roost of the kites closer to home in Hernando County near Brooksville. I elected to try the site first and if it failed, keep on going to Paynes Prairie.
|A juvenile Black-necked Stilt|
|Sandhill Crane at The Celery Fields|
My actual first stop for the day was an unscheduled visit to The Celery Fields in Sarasota. Was passing the area about 7:30am and figured I had time to add it on and it was a good idea. The recently planted wetlands was was very active with several good birds including two dozen Sandhill Cranes, and several calling Limpkins. Black-necked Stilts were nesting and numerous. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were active and I was pleased to see a Least Bittern and a Belted Kingfisher. Had all of the waders, plus Anhingas, Ospreys, Common Moorhens, a Black-crowned Night-heron, a Chimney Swift, a trio of Northern Rough-winged Swallow and a Black Skimmer. After thirty minutes it was time to move on.
|The Mississippi Kite|
Had noticed signage for access to Withlocoochee State Forest, which I decided to explorer for any likely birding sites. Quite by accident I came to Rock Lake Road were I was going to turn around. But I noticed a little yellow bird in the live oaks and took the time try and identify it. I, at first, thought it maybe an orchard oriole, but in fact I had a family of three Summer Tanagers. Then a Red-headed Woodpecker took off from the trees and I thought I had a glimpse of an acadian flycatcher when a small olive green bird with wing bars made a brief appearance, but not really sure. Would have been a lifer. In the same tree I found a Yellow-throated Vireo. Also encountered Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, Eastern Bluebird, and Eastern Towhee, Tufted Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay and a calling Bobwhite. Not bad for a rest stop.
|Black Terns at Gandy Beach|
|A Black Tern in breeding plumage|
|Royal Terns at Gandy Beach|
|A Black Tern and a Royal Tern|
Got home about six pm, but had to check on the Burrowing Owl family off Lee Road and Domestic Road. Here I added the Burrowing Owls, Eastern Meadowlarks, Anhinga, Mottled ducks, and American Coot.
My day's count was 80