Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Sunday, November 17th

We recently have been fortunate to have Master Birder Vince McGrath locate both a Nelson's and a Saltmarsh Sparrow in a location adjacent to Bunche Beach Preserve, called the Salt Flats. I was lucky to be with him on an occasion to relocate these birds. Both Lifers for me and very unusual to see in Lee County. Dr Jose Padilla has provided this photo he recently took of the Saltmarsh Sparrow.

Saltmarsh Sparrow at Bunche Beach Salt Flats.
 Photo Courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Say's Phoebe

Friday, November 15th

Yesterday I headed up to Desoto County to chase after a reported Say's Phoebe. This is a very rare bird to find in Florida and is drawing a late of interest. It is among several Western birds that have shown up in the Sunshine State this fall. A Sulpher-bellied Flycatcher made a very brief stop in Naples two weeks age. A second record in Florida of a Townsend's Solitaire showed up at Honeymoon State Park for several days before disappearing. At the same time a Varied Thrush was seen and photographed in Pinellas County for just one day.
Say's Phoebe seen on Four Mile Grade.
Photo courtesy of Dr Jose Padilla who saw the phoebe on the 11th.
The Say's Phoebe (281) was found at a pole barn location on four Mile Grade a few miles east of Arcadia in Desoto County.  Arcadia has a very interesting history.  Back in the late Nineteenth Century is was a rough Cow Town, who's cowboys could rival any from the West in skill and character.
This location offered hosted many bird species of the prairie and pond. Crested Caracaras and American Kestrels were very common along with Eastern Meadowlark, Sandhill Crane, swallows, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American Widgeon, Long-billed Dowitchers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs and a very late Pectoral Sandpiper
It was a productive venue, but I did draw the attention of a local. Was questioned on what I was doing.  He offered concerns about strangers hanging around as they had experience some recent theft.  So its best to respect the No Trespassing signs and stay on the road.
Small gator at Ollie's Pond
Today I rose early to chase after a reported Surf Scoter.  Spent an hour at the Bayshore Live Oak Park along the Peace River in Port Charlotte looking for the bird. No doubt it was present in a large raft of birds floating in the middle of the river.  lacking a scope, the best I could distinguish were a few Black Scoters. Later in the day I read a report that another birder noted the surf scoter was mixed in with some American Widgeons. Plus a great many lesser scaups and black scoters. Other birds I did see included Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, a Spotted Sandpiper, Dunlin,  White Ibis, Cormorants, Laughing Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Royal Terns and a Forster's Tern.
As it was very close I elected to add a stop at Ollie's Pond Park on Avon St.  Lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Eastern Phoebe.  The pond held many Common Gallinules, Pied-billed Grebes and Blue-winged Teal.  Also present were Lesser Scaups, Hooded Mergansers, Mottled ducks, a Northern Shoveler, a Green-winged Teal and an American Widgeon.  Also had a Cooper's Hawk pass over head.
Need to head back to the Peace River soon but with someone who owns a scope.