Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Migration Hotspot - Ft DeSoto Park

Last Monday, the 21st, I joined with nine other local birders - Dr Jose Padilla, Vince McGrath, Stan Damen, Dr Ken & Ruth Parks, Dave & Tammy  McQuade, Ruth Woodall and Sheryl - to make a return visit to Ft DeSoto Park in Pinellas County to enjoy the migration activity at this hotspot.

Our group arrived at Ft DeSoto at 8 am and headed straight to the mulberry trees at the rangers' residence. Dave and Tammy already had several great sightings as we approached including a Worm-eating Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were easily found feeding in the mulberry trees
The rest of us quickly added on with more Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, plus Indigo Buntings, Painted Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, Orchard Orioles, more Baltimore Orioles, Summer T, Scarlet tanagers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Red-eyed Vireos, White-eyed Vireos, many Gray Catbirds, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler, Merlin, Gray Kingbird and Cape May Warbler. I had a suspect dickcissel, and young Common Loon was still to be found at the near-by pier.

Baltimore Oriole

After an hour or so we relocated to the East Woods Picnic Area with the expectation of finding lots of great warblers.  However this proved not to be the case. We did find some warblers, but not lots. We had a few Hooded and Palm Warblers, but the group help put me onto one of my nemesis birds in a Kentucky Warbler. Apparently he had been spending a lot of time with a Hooded Warbler feeding underneath a large mulberry tree. We also got to observe a nesting pair of Nanday Parakeets.

Common Loon
As the action was slow we headed to the North Woods Picnic Area for some lunch. Which was interrupted several times with the arrival of forging warblers.  Here we added Blackpoll, Cape May, Yellow, American Redstarts, Palm, Black-and-White Warblers, and Northern Waterthrush.  The nearby lagoon added American Oystercatcher, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Reddish Egret, Short-billed Dowitcher, Sanderlings, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Laughing Gull, Foster's Tern, Royal Term, Least Tern, Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, Piping Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones and FOS Semipalmated Sandpiper. Dipped on any whimbrel or long-billed curlew.

Next we made a return visit to the Mulberry Grove were found the action was still going strong.  We added a Prothonotary, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Eastern Wood-Pewee.

From here our group left the park to bird the Cockroach Bay Preserve near Ruskin. The goal was to relocate a reported Lincoln's sparrow. We didn't find any sparrows, but have a few surprises. Dave was hopeful to add a Solitary Sandpiper. Well we found  him fourteen.  An added bonus was Jose locating a pair of Wilson's Snipes. We also added Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead, Black-necked Stilt, Lesser Yellowlegs, Coots, Moorhens, Eastern Towhee, Roseate Spoonbills, White and Glossy Ibis, Ospreys, another Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpipers, a lone Black Skimmer, a Least Tern, Blue Grosbeak, Downy Woodpecker, Merlin and all the expected waders.

In all it was a great day with the group totaling well over 110 species. Surprisingly we dipped on few expected species like sandhill crane, red-tailed hawk and swallow-tailed kite. Again it was a great day.

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