Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lee County Birding Blitz

Wednesday, December 28th

Pair of Snowy Plovers at Bunche Beach

Today I had a day off of work and I had weighed my options on what to do.  I could clean house or go birding. So birding it is!!   Next set of options is were to bird.  I very much want to chase after some interesting birds like the green-tailed towhee at Safety Harbor, the ash-throated flycatcher at Lucky Hammock, there is a lasagre flycatcher in Miami or maybe the western tanager in Coral Gables.

 But logistics required I stay close to home.  Therefore I elected to run a Lee County wide birding blitz. Quick stops at a number of venues with the goal of identifying one hundred birds. Lots of experienced birds can do this on a regular basis, but I have never managed more than an eight-six count in a day to this point. Locally the best sites to visit for such challenge would be Six-mile Cypress Preserve, Harn's Marsh, Bunche Beach, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge,  and various other spots for specific birds.

I started shorted after dawn, on a chilly, windy day, with my patch on Domestic Street, then onto Six-mile Cypress Preserve.   Six-mile provided six warblers, three woodpeckers and a couple of vireos.
Had hoped for wood duck here, but dipped on that. By now I already had fifty-four species as of 9:30 am. From here to I had to run an errand which ate up about an hour and then I made a quick visit to Broadway entrance to Estero Bay State Park with the idea of finding eastern towhee, house wren, eastern bluebird, bobwhites and maybe a scrub jay. But the trails were very quite. No birds here today.
Piping Plover

On to Bunche Beach were the tide was low and slowly rising.  The effects of red tide were evident by all of the dead fish on the beach.  Mostly mullet. Lots of birds present and very few people due to the chilly weather and red tide scare. Had almost all of the expected species and thought I had a flock of about fifteen red knots fly-in. But as I approached their location I could not spot any of them.  Did get fifteen Piping Plover and three Snowy Plover. Plus a Common Loon and a pair of Horned Grebes, but no red-breasted mergansers. Missed also on American white pelicans, the long-billed curlew, frigatebirds or oystercatchers. Got to see a pair of Bald Eagles flying over head, which got the hundreds of terns, gulls, skimmers, willets, pelicans etc to rise up into the air at once.  From here I was now at an eighty count.

Next onto Harn's Marsh were I re-found the pair of American Wigeons along with Limpkins, Snail Kites, Ring-billed Ducks, Pied-billed Grebes, Mottled Ducks, Sandhill Cranes and Blue-winged Teal.

Starting to get a bit late and still need to push on. Headed to Alva to the White's feeders. Got a beautiful male Painted Bunting, and Indigo Bunting and a pair of White-winged Doves. Then traveling west along North River Road towards Cape Coral. Watched this area for any caracara or wild turkey.

In northern  Cape Coral a family of Florida Scrub Jays can be found near the new Kismit R.O. water plant. At the scrub jay site, I easily relocated the Great Horn Owl still using a nest atop a lone pine tree and as I was checking another tree where I last saw the jays, I was startled by the second owl, who was roosting here. The jays I found sitting on a wire next to my car.  Checked on the burrowing owl nest sites here as well, but none were visible. One surprise here was finding a Savannah Sparrow on a wire with the Mourning Doves. Now it is getting close to dark and I only need two more birds to reach my goal.

The ballfields on Pelican Blvd was home to more burrowing owls and a colony of monk parakeets. Unfortunately the sun was about to set and the parakeets were quite.  None seen or heard as they were probably already snuggled into their nests to try and stay warm. Did manage to find on Burrowing Owl sticking its head up out of the ground.

With darkness I was done. And missed my goal by one. Some of the birds I dipped on today should have been easy, such as a northern cardinal or a common ground dove.  Maybe on another day.
1.      Muscovy Duck
2.      American Wigeon
3.      Mottled Duck
4.      Blue-winged Teal
5.      Ring-necked Duck
6.      Lesser Scaup
7.      Common Loon
8.      Pied-billed Grebe
9.      Horned Grebe
10.  Wood Stork
11.  Double-crested Cormorant
12.  Anhinga
13.  Brown Pelican
14.  Great Blue Heron
15.  Great Egret
16.  Snowy Egret
17.  Little Blue Heron
18.  Tricolored Heron
19.  Reddish Egret
20.  Cattle Egret
21.  Black-crowned Night-Heron
22.  White Ibis
23.  Glossy Ibis
24.  Black Vulture
25.  Turkey Vulture
26.  Osprey
27.  Snail Kite
28.  Bald Eagle
29.  Northern Harrier
30.  Red-shouldered Hawk
31.  Red-tailed Hawk
32.  American Kestrel
33.  Common Gallinule
34.  American Coot
35.  Limpkin
36.  Sandhill Crane
37.  Black-bellied Plover
38.  Snowy Plover
39.  Wilson's Plover
40.  Semipalmated Plover
41.  Piping Plover
42.  Killdeer
43.  Spotted Sandpiper
44.  Willet
45.  Marbled Godwit
46.  Ruddy Turnstone
47.  Sanderling
48.  Western Sandpiper
49.  Least Sandpiper
50.  Dunlin
51.  Short-billed Dowitcher
52.  Wilson's Snipe
53.  Laughing Gull
54.  Ring-billed Gull
55.  Herring Gull
      56.  Forster's Tern
57.  Royal Tern
58.  Sandwich Tern
59.  Black Skimmer
60.  Rock Pigeon
61.  Eurasian Collared-Dove
62.  White-winged Dove
63.  Mourning Dove
64.  Great Horned Owl
65.  Burrowing Owl
66.  Belted Kingfisher
67.  Red-bellied Woodpecker
68.  Downy Woodpecker
69.  Pileated Woodpecker
70.  Eastern Phoebe
71.  Great Crested Flycatcher
72.  Loggerhead Shrike
73.  White-eyed Vireo
74.  Blue-headed Vireo
75.  Blue Jay
76.  Florida Scrub-Jay
77.  American Crow
78.  Fish Crow
79.  Tree Swallow
80.  Tufted Titmouse
81.  Carolina Wren
82.  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
83.  Eastern Bluebird
84.  Gray Catbird
85.  Northern Mockingbird
86.  European Starling
87.  Black-and-white Warbler
88.  Common Yellowthroat
89.  Palm Warbler
90.  Pine Warbler
91.  Yellow-rumped Warbler
92.  Yellow-throated Warbler
93.  Savannah Sparrow
94.  Indigo Bunting
95.  Painted Bunting
96.  Eastern Meadowlark
97.  Common Grackle
98.  Boat-tailed Grackle
99.  House Sparrow


  1. Outstanding work, Tom. I wish I could have joined you. It's surprising you missed on the few bird species you expected to see considering the ground you covered. The merganser should have been seen at Ding. A muscovy almost met its end by flying at my car on the drive to the Great Horned Owl nest this morning. Too bad you missed your extremely impressive goal, but I'm assured you'll be well over a hundred species seen on your next effort. It's unfortunate you didn't see Peregrine Falcon on your journey. Passed under one on a wire along Cape Coral Parkway with two on wires near the GHOW nest today.

  2. Thanks Bob, With a second set of eyes, we would have easily exceeded the goal