Wednesday, December 21, 2011

American Wigeon

A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk at Babcock-Webb

A bad photo of the American Wigeon at Harn's Marsh
This past Sunday, the 18th,
 I spent about three hours in search of the reported pair of American Wigeons at Harn's Marsh. If I could locate the birds it would give me an  exact 200 count for Lee County for this year.
Walked about five miles and managed to locate the ducks in the company of a flock of Blue-winged Teal just a few yards from were I had parked my car. Should have turned right instead of left I suppose. I had not purposefully targeted 200 birds for a county count, but became interested when my friend Jose Padilla stated that it was his Big-Year Goal for 2011 and as I was only a few birds behind him, why not. Well as of this morning he has 203 according to e-bird. Other sightings at Harn's Marsh included Sandhill Cranes, Tree Swallows, Ring-billed Ducks, Mottled Ducks, Common Galinulle, Coots, my first American Robin for the season, a couple of Limpkins and a couple of Snail Kites. The limpkin and kite numbers are down right now as the higher water level does not help them in search of their apple snails.

Earlier in the day I had checked out Bunche Beach in search of Common Loons and Horned Grebes.  Here, I ran into Ruth Woodall, who was with Curt and Joan. They put me onto the loons and grebes and later on to a Snowy Plover. Seems we are finding snowys here much more frequently these days. Other birds included Least and Western Sandpipers, Black-belled, Semipalmated, Wilson's and Piping Plovers, American White Pelicans, a lone Marbled Godwit, Willets, Sanderlings and the usual waders and gulls. Ruth did invite me to the Bird Patrol's Christmas Count at Bunche Beach on Monday. I would have loved to attend, but my work scheduled did interfere.

A Brown-headed Nuthatch at Babcock-Webb
Today, Wednesday the 21st, last day of fall, I birded Babcock-Webb in Charlotte County.  Had not been to this venue for a couple of months.
Arrived a bit after seven am.  The camp grounds were full and swamp buggies were parked all in a row. Small game hunting was continuing on this property, but I went ahead and spent three hours birding without hardly seeing anyone else.
Flock of Tree Swallows at Babcock-Webb
Checked out the Red-cockaded Woodpecker colony along Oilwell Grade. Was on site for the emergence of at least three of the woodpeckers from their nest holes. There were lots of Yellow-rumped, palm and Pine Warblers present in a number of mixed flockes which included a couple of Brown-headed Nuthatches, several Bluebirds and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, plus a Downy Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker and a  Northern Flicker. Did hear several Eastern Towhees and Eastern Meadowlarks today.  Sandhill Cranes were also numerous, along with Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets plus a couple of Wood Storks. Got a very close viewing of a swirling flock of hundreds of Tree Swallows. 
There is so much energy in their rapid and fluid flight to no-where as they move inmass. Other birds today included Red-shouldered Hawks, Kestrels, Northern Mockingbirds, Belted Kingfishers, White Ibis, Eastern Phoebes, Red-winged Blackbirds, House Wrens, Gray Catbirds, and red Cardinals

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