Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lazuli Bunting - A Rare Find in Lee County

Tuesday April 3rd

April Fools' Day marked an announcement by Vince McGrath of Ft Myers that he had a very unusual visitor to  his backyard feeders. Aside from the colorfully Blue and Painting Buntings, a first year male Lazuli Bunting had arrived in the yard.  This is a very unusual find in  Florida.  A check on ebird has the last report to one, four years ago, also in Lee County at the White's feeders in Alva.  A hand-full of other reports date back several more years. So, this little guy is certainly a rare find.

A fuzzy pic, as seen through a window, of the lazuli bunting
This morning I paid a visit to Vince's house and was treated to my first sighting of the species. Others birds frequenting the yard included the Indigo and Painted Buntings, Blue Jay, Gray Catbirds, Eurasian Collared Doves, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals and Cedar Waxwings could be heard, but were not seen.  Vince has had a lot of visitors so far and more folks were stopping by as we left to check the nearby Sanibel Lighthouse for migrants. Turned out to be a disappointing stop.  Lots of Easter time visitors. but low on birds.  Did get a FOS Gray Kingbird and a beautiful Pileated Woodpecker.  Baby Ospreys could be seen being feed by their momma and a couple of Brown-headed Cowbirds were perch high in a snag.

Later I headed over to Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve, which was also very quite.  However near the southern boundary of the preserve along Six-Mile Cypress Parkway I was lucky to notice a a nice kettle of mixed species including American White Pelicans, a Bald Eagle, Wood Storks, Black Vultures and Swallow-tailed Kites.  Was also able to add an American Kestrel and a flock of Cedar Waxwings.

Red Knots and Short-billed Dowitchers at Bunche Beach
About five o'clock I get a text from Bob Pelkey about Least Terns at Bunche Beach.  So off I go. The tide was low and crowd on the beach was thinning and the birding was good.  I did get my FOS Least Terns, plus Sandwich and Royal Terns. Hundreds of Short-billed Dowichers and Dunlins were present. Found four plover species - Black-bellied, Piping, Wilson's and Semipalmated.  Could also add Sanderings, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, a lone Marbled Godwit, a trio of Bald Eagles, Ospreys, dancing Reddish Egrets, White Ibis and Red-breasted Mergansers. The mergansers were a surprise. I was able to find them after some moron in a self powered para-sailing apparatus  came flying in low over the beach and startling the birds. As things settled downed the ducks came in close by. Other-wise I would have probably missed them.  I had figured that all of the mergansers, like the horned grebes and common loons had already headed north. You just never know what you'll find when out birding.

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