Thursday February 16th
Today was a productive day with two lifers and other good birds. Had spent the evening in Gainesville so I could get an early start on the LaChua Trail in Payne's Prairie. But first I stopped at the location along the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail for the much heralded Fox Sparrow. I didn't locate the sparrow, but did find Carolina Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Tufted Titmouse, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow and Cardinals. But I chanced to met Andy Kratter, who has been monitoring the sparrow and keeping the feeder supplied. He shared that the sparrow had not been seen in a couple days and detailed locations along Newnan's Lake to look for good birds I was interested in.
|A very poor photo of the Fox Sparrow|
Shortly I was on the nearby LaChua Trail and was very disappointed. This location has been severely effected by a very dry winter. Much of the water had dried up, so no bitterns or ducks. Also much of the dried brush had been removed, no doubt due to fire danger. So no sparrows.
On my first visit here in January of 2009 was lucky with several sparrow species including a rare-to- Florida Harris' Sparrow, Whooping Cranes, thousands of Sandhill Cranes, and Snow Geese. The green areas near the boardwalk did have a flock of Savannah Sparrows, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Harrier, White-eyed Vireo and Eastern Phoebe. Lots of huge gaters were still present around the big hole. About 130 Sandhill Cranes had been seen in-flight.
Did have a conversation with some fellas who were searching for the bisons. They had been entrusted to remove for relocation, a few of the bachelor males who were causing some concerns. But they were not seen in this area at the time.
Before leaving the area I returned to the Fox Sparrow spot and this time was successful with the sparrow plus about a dozen Chipping Sparrows.
|Black Skimmers and Gulls near Flagler Beach|
Next stop was a couple of spots along Newnan's Lake. Had several Bald Eagles, American White Pelicans, Forsters Terns, Ring-billed Gulls, a Bonaparte's Gull, Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfishers, Swamp Sparrows, Palm Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Ran into a local birder searching for the male wilson's warbler wintering here. He confirmed that rusty blackbirds can be located in the Magnolia Parke neighborhood in Gainesville. But I did not have enough time today.
From Gainesville I drove to the east coast to scope for shore birds and Gulls. At Rodger Gamble State park near Flagler Beach I was able to watch a large number of Northern Gannets as they dove into the Atlantic for a meal. Made several stops along Highway 1A1 to check on any interesting birds. Did see the expected Ring-billed Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers, Brown Pelicans, Royal Terns, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones and Willets.
|Second-Cycle Glaucous Gull|
|Greater Black-backed Gull|
Reached Frank Reardon park in Daytona Beach close to dusk, were I spent some time checking through the thousands of gulls resting here. Did suceed in locating Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gulls among all the Herring, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls. Also located a very large, basically white gull with pink legs and bill. Luckily I ran into Michael Brothers, who was birding the beach as well. Mr Brother is director of the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet and was the sponcer of the pelagic trip I was on back in September. He confirmed that my large gull was a second-cycle Glaucous Gull - LIFER and gave me some tips on better identifing the differnt cycles of the herring and black-backed gulls. We also spotted a Parasitic Jaeger flying in off the ocean. and across the beach.
A good day!!
Mammal of the Day - a Fox Squirrel at Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail