Friday, January 6, 2012

Twiching after Texas Birds

Thursday January 5th
Green-tailed Towhee at Possum Branch Preserve

I am always interested in adding new birds to my life list and at this time of year we get opportunities when migrants from the west, probably Texas, find their way to Florida
  Last month I saw my first vermilion flycatcher just outside of Everglades National Park. The vermilion does migrate into Florida, but usually only up into the panhandle. The same is true of Green-tailed Towhees. But yesterday I was able to observe one of a pair first found during a Christmas Bird Count up in Possum Branch Preserve in Safety Harbor. A lifer for me. The day before, I ventured to The Celery Fields in Sarasota for the reported cinnamon teal.  Another western bird, seldom seen here. And missed on my visit.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - December 2011
There are more western birds to track down. we find western Kingbirds and scissor-tailed flycatchers in various parts of the state. we also get a few ash-throated and brown-crested flycatchers, it seems mostly in Dade County. Tropical and cassin's kingbirds, a say's phoebe and lesser nighthawks have also showed up at times.

Back on Wednesday, I drove up to Sarasota to look for the cinnamon teal.  Spent a couple of hours, but did not locate the bird.  It can easily stay concealed in the marshy areas.  Did find Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Hooded Mergansers and Mottled Ducks. Had to be well over a hundred Double-crested Cormorants and lots of Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls. At Ackermans Park got long-distance looks at a pair of Ruddy Ducks along with more Blue-winged Teal and Lesser Scaups. Five Monk Parakeets were resting on the wires. Was able to call out a Marsh Wren and could hear a couple more in the reeds.
Common Ground Dove seen at Honeymonn State Park

On Thursday was my run up through St Pete and Clearwater to seek out the heavily reported on green-tailed towhee.  Had about a twenty minute wait, and was rewarded with a lifer. The hispid cotton rat also made a very brief appearance and the only sparrow I managed to id was a Song Sparrow. I had noticed that Honeymoon State Park was not very far away from Here so I spent about an hour there checking out the gulls for any specialities. Just Ring-billed and laughing Gulls though. Lots of Ruddy Turnstones, a few Common Loons and Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers were present. I understand that during migration times this is an excellent spot to be birding.

On the way home I checked out the ponds at Tierra Verde in St Pete.  Had to be a thousand birds on the water.  The lighting was bad and the ducks were mostly resting with their heads hidden under their wings, so it was very difficult to id them, but the vast majority were Redheads.  Also found a trio of Nanday Parakeets on the wires.

Common Loon seen from Ft DeSoto pier

It used to be free to use Ft DeSoto Park.  Not any more.  It cost 5 bucks to park now. Nothing was very special at the park today.  More loons, grebes and mergansers. But very few shorebirds aside a few Ruddy Turnstones and Willets. Did manage to find a pair of American Oystercatchers.

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