Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clymene Dolphin and Pelagic Birding

Sunday, July 15th

Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez, Master Birder Vince McGrath and retired engineer Stan Damen joined the with thirty-five fellow birders aboard the Pastime Princess to bird for pelagic bird species out on the Atlantic Ocean. Michael Brothers of the Marine Science Center had sponsored this trip out of Ponce Inlet, Florida.  My interest was vicarious in that I can not attend but really would have enjoyed the event.

Mr Brothers Bird List - Black-capped Petrel    8, Cory’s Shearwater    45, Great Shearwater    20, Audubon’s Shearwater    4, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel   55, Leach’s Storm-Petrel    3, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel    3, Brown Booby   1, Greater Yellowlegs    3, Sandpiper species    20, Pomarine Jaeger    1, Bridled Tern     12 and Sooty Tern    25

His report includes background on the Clymene Dolphin sighted today. This is a rarely seen and a lifer observation for everyone aboard the Pastime Princess.

Clymene Dolphin
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez
Black-capped Petrel
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez

 The day prior to the pelagic trip the guys visited Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Here they added
Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbills, Greater and lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Black Terns, Forster's Terns, Royal terns and Black Skimmers.

Bridled Tern
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez

Bridled Tern
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez
On Monday's return trip to ft Myers they visited Joe Overstreet Road near Lake Kissimee in the hunt for Whooping Cranes, which were seen. Also sighted were Northern Bobwhites, Wild Turkeys, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Cranes and Purple Gallinules.

Great Shearwater
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez

Great Shearwater
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez
Northern Bobwhite
Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July Big Day

Wednesday July 11th

Teamed-up with Bob Pelkey for a Big Day. Our goal was to try to reach a 100 count day concentrating our efforts in Central Florida. We left Ft Myers at 5 AM and made our first stop of the day around seven at The Celery Fields in Sarasota. The location was over-grown and the berms were in a need of mowing.  The grass was very tall and wet.  The birding was not too bad. We collected twenty-five species including Wood Ducks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Common Gallunile, Barn Swallows, Ospreys, Laughing Gulls, Sandhill Cranes, Red-winged Blackbirds, Limpkins,  and Brown-head Cowbirds.  Our best birds here were a Least Bittern that was nice enough to fly past us twice and a Purple Gallunile busy working the marsh foliage for breakfast.

Black Tern at Cockroach Bay Preserve
Photo courtesy of Bob Pelkey
We had a nice start with the Celery Fields. July is not one of the best months for birding in Florida and that was one of the reasons we headed north to look for birds we do not see in south Florida this time of year. So next we stopped at Cockroach Bay Preserve in Hillsbourgh County were I hoped to find gull-billed terns. As we entered Cockroach Bay Road we started with a Gray Kingbird. The mitigation ponds were grown over and offered very little activity.  We checked the sod fields and found lots of Laughing Gulls, Black-bellied Plovers, Killdeers, White Ibis, Grackles and Starlings. At the ponds in the Cockroach Bay Preserve we added Wood Storks, Least Terns, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Roseate Spoonbills, Black-necked Stilts, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, a trio of Black Skimmers and the best best bird was FOY Black Tern.

Next was Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa. The location can be a good location from Prothonotary Warbler and yellow-throated vireos.. We were informed by several people upon our arrival that a barred owl was easily seen along the boardwalk.  We did have very close views of a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk and observed several waders and Limpkins.  Our best birds were Northern Parulas, a nice male Prothonotary Warbler, that poor Bob never did get to see or photograph even when it flew behind his head, several Red-eyed Vireos, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-throated Warblers and Prairie Warbler.
But we dipped in the yellow-throated vireo and the barred owl.

Mississippi Kite seen on Power Line Road
Photo courtesy of Bob Pelkey
Following lunch we headed up towards the Pasco County- Hernando County border and Power Line Road.  Last year mississippi kites were reported here roosting, in a snag next to the Sparta Electronics plant and I was successful in locating an individual at that time.  Well I hadn't seen any reports so far that the kites had returned to this area, but we wanted to recheck it  any way. It was a good decision. We had a dozen Swallow-tailed Kites and four Mississippi Kites soaring above the same location as last year on both sides of the County border. With thunderstorms moving-in we continued along Power Line Road and added Red-tailed Hawk, a Red-headed Woodpecker family, Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Meadowlarks,  American Crows, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Bobwhite and a trio of American Kestrels. The kestrels seen in Florida this time of year are a non-migrating sub-species called called Southeatern American Kertels 

Even with a light rain we headed to the nearby Croom Tract of the Withlocoochie State Forest and stopped at the intersection of Croom Rital Road and Rock Lake Road were we added Great Crested Flycatcher, more Bobwhites and Carolina Chickadees. Had lots of Blue Jay, more nesting Red-headed Woodpeckers, Black-and-White Warblers, a singing Eastern Towhee and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.  Had hoped for summer tanager and acadian flycatcher, which I have seen here before but dipped on these.

Our final stop was Ft Desoto Park in Tampa Bay.  The rain had let up by now and we ended up spending a couple of hours here mostly after shore birds.  It is evident the Tropical Storm Debbie had made a few changes to parts of the shoreline, but it didn't seem too bad. Saw several dozen Magnificent Frigatebirds and Laughing Gulls. Also added Least Tern, Sandwich Terns, Royal Terns, Wilson's Plovers, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Gray Kingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, Willets, Semipalmated Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers, a lone Red Knot, Lots of Ruddy Turnstones, some Sanderlings, Black Skimmers and a trio of FOS Least Sandpipers.
Reddish Egret

Short-billed Dowitcher

Great Egret

So its almost dark by now and time to head for home.  A good day with some good birds.  We didn't get to a hundred birds, but managed to reach eighty-nine. Not bad for July.

Day List - (89)
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Wood Duck, Mottled Duck, Northern Bobwhite, Wood Stork, Magnificent Frigatebird, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Brown Pelican, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Black Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Common Nighthawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Gray Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Prothonotary Warbler, Northern Parula,Black-and-White Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Snail Kites

Sunday July First

Snail Kite at Harn's Marsh

Black-necked Stilts
Today I took a few hours to hit some sites to start a new month list for July. Started at nearby Harn's Marsh were Snail Kites and Limpkins can be counted on as sure hits. But in a reference to a recent article in the Ft Myers News-Press the local snail kite population has been suffering from the recent drought conditions. Its been reported that all of the recent snail kites nests have failed and they are migrating up towards Kissimme in search of a dependable food supple. On this visit I found the water levels are rising due to the rains from tropical Storm Debbie, but still the marsh was no very birdy.  I did see a couple of Snail Kites and a few Limpkins. With the high temperatures I did not stay long and as I returned to my car I noticed that the new Harn's Marsh Middle School's retention pond was loaded with birds.  Counted at least nine Black-necked Stilts, plus numbers of Mottled Ducks, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egrets and a lone Roseate Spoonbill.

Burrowing Owl in Cape Coral
 Next I checked out the activity at the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River.  Noticed that the purple martins had moved on from the martin houses, but House Sparrows were abundant. A Bald Eagle was setting atop the nest tree across the river and a a Yellow-crowned Night-heron was a sentry duty at the beach. Least and Forster's Tern were actively feeding around the lock.

From here I headed across the river at Alva and traveled west along North River Road looking for any caracaras. Did not get the caracara, but added a White-eyed Vireo.  On the north side of Cape Coral I found a couple of the resident Florida Scrub Jays, Eastern Meadowlarks and Burrowing Owl. lastly at a  stop at the ball fields on Pelican Boulevard in Cape Coral I added more Burrowing Owls, Monk Parakeets and Eurasian Collared Doves. Had to end this trip for now as I had to head into work soon.

But I managed to add a few more birds on the way into work including Eastern Bluebird,  Red-shouldered Hawks and Common Nighthawks. Lastly we had our nightly visit from a Barred Owl.

A nice variety of birds today.

Barred Owl at my work place