Thursday, August 23, 2012

Migrants at Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Thursday, August 23rd

The early migrants are finally arriving in beautiful Southwest Florida and specifically at our local patch called Six-Mile Cypress preserve. We have already seen the arrival of the shorebirds and now that the warblers are at hand.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are a common sight and sound at Six-Mile
Wednesday I had the opportunity to spend a few hours biding in the company of Walt Winton. We both   had read Dr Padilla's report from a couple of days ago about how much the birding had improved. He had reported Short-tailed Hawks, plus Hooded, Worm-eating, Pine, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush,Yellowthroated and Black-and-White Warblers, plus Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos.

We started out with a Prairie Warbler in the company of Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Red-eyed Vireos. Waders were notability absent due to the high water levels and we dipped on the short-tailed hawks.  but we have a number of Chimney Swifts whom I presumed were also migrating through. Now back to the warblers -  we came up with eight on the day including Hooded, Black-and-White, a Prothonotary, a Yellow, a Northern Parula, a half dozen American Redstarts and some Pine warblers. We also found Pileated, Hairy, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, more Red-eyed Vireos, a Great Crested Flycatcher, Belted Kingfisher, Anhingas and a Blue Jay. Seems other birders present reported worm-eating warbler, a kentucky warbler and louisania waterthrush. A nice start for the fall migration.

Well on Thursday, I returned twice to Six-mile hoping from additional surprises. The morning session was not very rewarding. My only warbler was a Louisiana Waterthrush, Was able to add a Red-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wrens too. The afternoon session was better with two Hooded Warblers, Black-and White Warblers, Yellowthroated Warblers, a Prothonotary Warbler and more Red-eyed Vireos.  Not a bad start.  Still dipped on worm-eating warbler, kentucky warbler and yellow-throated vireo, but we're not done yet

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Bird Walk on Bunche Beach

Wednesday, August 15th

An enthusiastic group of about 30 people assembled at Bunche Beach for a Bird Walk sponsored by the Lee County Bird Patrol.  The walk was lead by Walt Winton and Charlie Ewell and was indeed a success, despite the heat and threat of lightening.
Marbled Godwit

Many of out spring shorebird migrants were on hand. Best birds were found while sorting through the Sandwich Terns resting on the exposed sand bars were a Common Tern and a Gull-billed Tern were found. Unfortunately we were unable to find any black terns. They usually show-up at this location just before Labor Day. Other terns present included a lot of Black Skimmers, a few Royal Terns and about a dozen Least Terns. Laughing Gulls were the only expected gull species this time of year.

We did search for the long-billed curlew sometimes seen here. Dipped on it but did see Willets, a Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers, a couple of Piping Plovers, several Semipalmated Plovers and a Wilson's Plover.  Western and Least Sandpipers, and Sanderlings were seen along with several Roseate Spoonbills and White Ibis.  Both a normal red Reddish Egret and a white-morphed Reddish Egret were seen. Barn Swallows are the most prevalently seen swallows these days and a couple made an appearance. So did a Belted Kingfisher. A juvenile Bald Eagle was spotted far off dining on the beach. Figure that it had hung around instead of wandering off as the eagle population will do after nesting is over.
Lots of Black Skimmers

We did miss a few interesting species like the curlew. we did not see any oystercatchers, spotted sandpipers or night-herons and the black terns didn't show either. A week ago Yellow Warblers, White-eyed Vireos, Prairie Warblers and the Long-billed Curlew were seen, but again, not today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Upland Sandpipers in the Everglades Ag Area

Monday, July 30th

Common Nighthawk seen near Brown's Farm Road

Fall migration is diffidently begun as, recently, we have begun finding early fall migrating birds like Black-and White Warblers, American Redstarts, Louisiana Waterthrush and Red-eyed Vireos at Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.  The shore birds have been increasing here as well with arrival Marbled Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers, Spotted Sandpipers and Piping Plover.  But in late July till about Labor Day the venturing to the Everglades Agricultural Area in Palm Beach County south of Belle Glade can offer good observation of migrating shore birds, terns and swallows.

Today five of us headed out before dawn to look for these migrants. Our crew included Dr Jose Padilla-Lopez, Master Birders Vince McGrath and Vince Lucas, Stan Damen and myself. The first stop was at the sod and rice fields at the King Ranch along US 27. We quickly tally a FOS Belted Kingfisher, Ospreys and Red-shouldered hawks on the wires along the road, nineteen Upland Sandpipers in the sod fields with, hundreds of Barn Swallows, a number of Cliff Swallows, dozens of Pectoral Sandpipers and Killdeer, about seventy Black-bellied Plover which had to be carefully scanned for any possible golden plovers, a trio of Sandhill Cranes flying in the distance and a surprise of a Burrowing Owl having made itself a home in the sod.

King Rail chick
Photo courtesy of Dr Padilla-Lopez
At the rice fields were huge numbers of Black-necked Stilts, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Lesser Yellowlegs, Glossy Ibis and Short-billed Dowitchers. Several Stilt Sandpipers and a very nice surprise of a King Rail with its black-colored fluffy chick.

Stilt Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher
Photo courtesy of Dr Padilla-Lopez
Across the highway in a flooded field were seen a great quantity the shorebirds including Short-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Black-necked Stilts, Least  Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Killdeer, Ruddy Turnstone, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Black-bellied Whistling Ducklings, several Black Terns and Gull-billed Terns and more Barn Swallows and Common Nighthawks.

From here we turned west onto CR 827 to its terminus at Bolles Canal and the Barn Owl roost. We only had a very brief glimpse on a single flushed Barn Owl, but we added a lone Swallow-tailed Kite and Black-crowned Nightheron.

Following lunch in Belle Glade we headed over to nearby Torry Island to re-find the Orchard Orioles Vince Lucas had seen on an earlier trip here a couple of days ago.  At the flag weed we did see the oriole family including a male and a pair of females.  But as we were scouting for these birds we noticed a pair of immature Purple Galluniles walking the end of the flag weeds. Then came a nice adult followed by four dark colored baby purple galluniles and a second adult.
One of eight Purple Galluniles seen at Torry Island
Photo courtesy of Dr Padilla-Lopez
Then came a pair of FOS Eastern Kingbirds in the company a pair of fussing Northern Mockingbirds. As we were leaving for Brown's Farm Road, ten Northern Rough-winged Swallows were seen settling on the wires.

At the flooded fields near Brown's Farm Road were located hundreds of wading birds, shorebirds, terns and nighthawks. Here we added a lone American Avocet, but dipped on the wilson's phalarope Vince Lucas found here a few days ago. There had to be a hundred Black Terns in the company of some Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers. There were many Short-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Black-necked Stilts.  The wires along Brown's farm Road were checked for miles for any swallows. Surprising we dipped on swallows, but saw concentrations of Common Nighthawks, European Starlings and Brown Cowbirds.
Common Nighthawk
Courtesy of Dr Padilla-Lopez
Our final destination was along Belle Glade Road were the flooded fields were continued with many of the same species. We did add our first Roseate Spoonbills and a few more Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. One bird stopped us for a closer look. At first glimpse we though perhaps we encountered our first wood stork, but it turned out to actually be a huge over-sized White Ibis with a dirty neck and head, This bird intrigued us enough to even consider it as a cross between a sacred ibis and a white ibis. But that was easily dismissed too.

This trip was diffidently a success with locating so many upland sandpiper, king rails, orchard orioles, the purple gallunile families and barn owl.  We did dip on the wilson's phalarope, solitary sandpiper and wood storks.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducklings
Courtest of Dr Padilla-Lopez

Bird List for the Day (70) -
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, King Rail, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Upland Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher,  Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Barn Owl, Burrowing Owl, Common Nighthawk, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, European Starling, Common Yellowthroat, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, House Sparrow

Black-necked Stilts were everywhere