Monday, December 22, 2014

St Marks

Monday, December 8th
Day Two - North Florida Trip

St Mark's Lighthouse

While camping at the yurt in Torreya State Park Bob Pelkey and I found that our smart phones clocks were bouncing back and forth between CST and EST. Seems we were sitting near t to the border of these time zones. The confusion got us a late start so that we didn't arrive  St Marks till 9:30.

Lesser Scaup at Lighthouse Pool
The day was overcast, chilly and drizzly. But we still found good birds. We would dip on a few targets that had been recently reported such as Ross's goose, Virginia rail, vermilion flycatcher and white-faced ibis

Started off with Eastern Phoebe and yellow-rumped warblers at the visitor center. Further down lighthouse road we added green-winged teal, coots, common gallinule, red-breasted merganser, swamp and savannah sparrows, eastern towhee, pied-billed grebes, belted kingfishers, northern harrier, red-shouldered hawk and the expected waders.

Reaching Stone Bayou we found a quartet of American avocet, a single black-necked stilt, and also willets, greater yellowlegs, more coots, least & western sandpipers, sb & lb dowitchers, wilson's snipe, eastern meadowlarks, least Scaup and bufflehead.
Drake Northern Shoveler

At the headquarters pond we had at least a dozen black-crowned night-herons, American wigeons, blue-winged teal, gadwall, ring-necked ducks, a sora, a bald eagle. purple and common gallinule and more waders.

Onto the lighthouse pool. There were hundreds of ducks including more a wigeons, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, redheads, lesser Scaup, and ruddy ducks.  At the sea grass zone along the beach we found nelsons sparrows, a suspected salt marsh sparrow. swamp sparrow, and a brief look at a sparrow sporting yellow head and breast markings. Heard clapper rail in the salt marsh east of the lighthouse. Off shore were common loons, horned grebes, bufflehead, least scaup, brown pelicans, ring-billed gulls, a royal tern and an active dolphin.
Eastern Phoebe

On the way out, we found the numbers of shorebirds had greatly increased at Stone Bayou. Hiked the dike road to the back of the bayou and added wood stork and american white pelicans

St Marks NWR is an awesome birding venue and a real jewel for birding in Florida.
American Wigeon

American Avocet

Nelson's Sharptail Sparrow

Fruiting Prickly Pear seen near the lighthouse boat launch

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