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.
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