Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Weekend of Twitching.

Saturday February 9th

Come each winter we get a handfull of a few interesting birds that stop here instead of their normal wintering grounds. We have a lone Says Phoebe that has wintered in the same pasture in Astutle, in central Florida for the past six seasons. We'll get a scattering of Vermilion Flycatchers, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds around the state. A few Swanson's Hawks too. A pair of Caisson's Kingbirds, a Tropical Kingbird and a lone Gray Kingbird are wintering at STA5, south of Clewiston. And near Homestead we have we have a Lesser Nighthawks, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, a few Least Flycatchers, Tropical Kingbird, Western Kingbirds and Vermilion Kingbirds. On Friday I headed out on to Lucky Hammock to search for them.

But on Thursday my daughter and I did twitch after a pair of Black-legged Kittiwakes in Tampa Bay.  These are very rare in our state and being so close to ft Myers we had to take shot at finding them ourselves. I started the day with birding at Six-Mile Cypress Preserve with the idea of locating a Red-crowned Kinglet or a Black-throated Green Warbler. I did locate the warbler and lots of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of nice Pileated Woodpeckers, a Blue-headed Vireo and the other usual suspects.

After my daughter had wrapped up her work at the Humane Society we headed up to The Skyline Bridge at Tampa Bay, were the Kittiwakes have seen found at the north end of the South Fishing Pier. Upon our arrival a couple of photographs put us onto one of the Black-legged Kittiwakes, LIFER!!. Common Loons were numerous as well as Laughing Gulls, Ruddy Turnstones, Brown Pelicans, plus Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Cormorants, Snowy Egrets and Rock Pigeons. 

Afterwards we crossed the bridge and checked the ponds at Terra Verdi were we added Redheads (not as many as I had expected), Northern Shovelers, a few Lesser Scaups,  Ring-necked Ducks, American Coots, Common Gallinule and a female Canvasback, a female Ruddy Duck and a lone Red-breasted Merganser.
On our way home we stopped at the Celery Fields just before dark. Here we added an American Bittern, a pair of Black-crowned Nigh-herons, Blue-wing Teal, Common Gallinule, tons of Starlings. Had hoped for a sora or king rail, but we did see the Barn Owl as it left its roost at dusk. 

Vermilion Flycatcher - photo by Bob Pelkey
Friday morning I was on the road by four in the morning with the idea of arriving at the Everglades National Park before sunrise with idea of finding Lesser Nighthawks and Eastern Whip-poor-wills.  Did arrive too late but did have some good birds at Lucky Hammock and The Annex. Here I did find lots of Gray Catbirds and Palm Warblers.  But I also added an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a vocal Brown-crested Flycatcher, a Least Flycatcher, a Brown Thrasher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Northern harrier, Northern Parula, House  Wrens, Eastern Meadowlarks, Common Yellowthroats,  and a White-eyed Vireo. 
 Before I moved on from The Annex I met a couple of fellas heading into the brush in search of Burmese Pythons as a part of the current Python Roundup sponsored by National Park Service. They were quite colorful and offered interesting stories on their captures including photos. They claim to have already caught several including a huge 12 foot female, which is destined to be used as a Judas snake.

At nearby C-111 canal, I added a beautiful male Vermilion Flycatcher, a pair of Western Kingbirds, a Tropical Kingbird and a Cave Swallow hanging with a flock of Tree Swallows. The Brown-headed Cowbirds were scanned carefully, trying to locate any Shiny Cowbirds roosting with them. No Shiny Cowbirds and other target species missed here included Short-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Swanson's Hawk 

Egyptian Geese
From here I checked out the Castellow Hammock park in Redlands were I got a pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds  a Rufus Hummingbird, White-winged Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, and a female Painted Buntting

The Kendall Baptist Hospital campus is a popular spot to look for some of the more exotic species. Today I could only find a few Mitre Parakeets. Often find much large numbers and other parrot species as well. Was pretty quite today. I did see a family group of three Egyptian Geese that have taken up residence at the lake. Did spend some time investigating the neighborhood across from the hospital looking for Red-whiskered Bulbuls. After striking out here I decided it was time to head for home.

It was a good trip. Hope to return soon.
Mitre Parakeets

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