Thursday, August 18, 2011

'To Twitch or Not to Twitch' - A visit to Babcock-Webb

Wednesday - August 16th

My debate for where to bird today was to stay local and visit Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area or twitch after the thick-billed vireo in Miami.  Seems my enthusiasm for a long drive to Miami did not exist, especially as the potential of getting a tick on this ABA-4 vireo was a crap shoot.  Lasts week's visit to the Everglades Ag Area took a lot out of me with the heat and humidity of a south Florida summer.  So it was off to Babcock-Webb.

This used to be a common moorhen, but has been renamed as Common Gallinule. 
Seen at the marl pond at the entrance to the refuge.

Arrived just past sunrise and could hear Bachman's Sparrow singing from the pines as I passed the gun range.  Did not stop here yet to glass the sparrows, but headed to the closest Red-cockaded Woodpecker colony. Upon my arrival I could hear that they had already emerged and were calling from trees on the west side of the lane. Was able to sight one high up in a pine.  So within five minutes of arriving I had already found two of the three birding specialities seen here. I would later find a single Brown-headed Nuthatch in the company of a several Pine Warblers.  The only other species of warblers seen today were a pair of Prairie Warbles at the RCW colony site.

Other woodpeckers I found included Northern Flicker, Downy, Hairy and several Red-bellied Woodpeckers. One of the most commonly seen birds on the day were Common Ground Doves, followed by Mourning Doves. Saw and heard several Eastern Towhees and Eastern Bluebirds. An interesting observation was seeing red-bellied woodpeckers, eastern bluebirds and eastern towhees in being agressive toward their fledglings. Apparently it was time for the young to leave home.  Other species seen included Sandhill Cranes,  Green Herons, Great Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Blue-gray, Gnatcatchers, Anhingas, and a young Red-tailed Hawk. Glimpsed a Coopers Hawk in the campgrounds and was surprised to see an Eastern Wood-Pewee near Webb Lake.  Missed today were brown thrasher, northern bobwhite and eastern kingbird.

Burrowing Owl looking for direction
On the way home I stopped by the Florida Scrub Jay site in northern Cape Coral, were I found a lone specimen.  There were a great many Eastern Meadowlarks, Mourning Doves, Common Ground Doves, Loggerhead Shrikes and Northern Mockingbirds present. Also found a Burrowing Owl. Then added Monk Parakeets at the Pelican Boulvard ballfield.  Not a bad day.

Burrowing Owl

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