Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Thursday January 29th

Visited the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island this morning to look for the White-crowned Pigeon and Eastern Screech Owl, as well as to test out my replacement camera. My old camera was damaged after falling into the water at Six-mile Cypress Slough a couple of weeks ago.  Canon replaced it with a refurbished camera at no cost to me,
Eastern Screech-Owl

Arrived at a low tide and hundreds of wading birds were present, including mostly Great Egrets, White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills, but very few shorebirds. The shorebirds seen were mostly Willets, with a few Spotted Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plover and Black-bellied Plovers.

Spotted Sandpiper

Ring-billed Gull

Black-bellied Plover

Reddish Egret

American White Pelicans

A Wood Stork
On the trail close to the Wildlife Drive entrance was found the Eastern Screen-Owl, along with several Blue-winged Teal, a couple of Green-winged Teal and several Black-crowned Night-herons.

At the Shell Mound Trail I was able to find the White-crowned Pigeon, but only because of the help of a gentleman who was already on the bird. Getting a descent  photo was difficult as the bird was staying some what buried in the foliage.
White crowned Pigeon

After leaving the refuge I visited nearby Blind Pass were several Northern Gannets were seen and as I was heading home, a stop along the Sanibel Causeway Park I was able to add a Common Loon and a Black Scoter.  It was a good morning.

The fruit of the Gumbo Limbo Tree, which is one of the food sources for the pigeon

The Snowberry is currently the favored food for the pigeon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Babcock-Webb WMA - Charlotte County

Tuesday, January 13th

A RCW hiding from the camera

Today I arrived at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County just at dawn. Because this venue is the closest location to find the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. This species requires a very specific habitat, which  has been disappearing, as their habitat is also favored by land developers.

So about twenty minutes past dawn, a pair of noisy RCW emerged from their nest holes.  A pair of noisy House Wrens would join them in greeting a new day.

The best time and place to locate the birds is be set-up near one of the nest colony sites either at dawn or dusk.
This Red-bellied Woodpecker was inspecting a RCW nest hole

Shortly after I was able to locate Brown-headed Nuthatches in a mixed flock of Palm, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers. Other species found included Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Great Egrets, Eastern Meadowlarks, Mockingbirds, Common Yellowthroat, American Bittern, Pied-billed Grebes, Northern Flickers and Tree Swallows.

House Wren

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Brown-headed Nuthatch

American Bittern

Eastern Meadowlark

Northern Mockingbird

Current tally of recent hunting activity on the property

Monday, January 5, 2015

Estero Bay Preserve State Park - Winkler Road

Monday, January 5th.

Estero Bay Preserve State Park is a sight designed to help improve and preserve the integrity of the Estero Bay estuary. I have walked the pine wood trails leading from the preserves Estero access point.  This location has been a mitigation area for displaced gopher tortoises and is were I had my lifer sighting of Florida Scrub Jays.  Saw two on my first visit February 14, 2008, but have never seen any there since.  Other species found here include Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird, Bald Eagle, Pileated Woodpecker, Swallow-tailed Kite, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Bobwhites

The Winkler Road access is different as it is primarily mangrove and salt flats.  But there are a couple of ponds on this section of the preserve that recently has drawn some attention due to some of the water fowl being seen lately. Both ponds are accessed off the blue trail. And it should be noted here that these trails are often flooded and supplied with hordes of mosquitoes. So basically access is a winter time event and there can still be mosquitoes, mud and standing water ( source for the mosquitoes), as was my experience today. The park does have a participation requirement for use of the facilities.
Least Sandpiper seen in December

Today was a return visit to capture fresh sightings of the ducks for the new year.  Last month I trudged through deeper water, but the mosquitoes were as bad as today. Today the American Wigeons that have been often seen on the smaller pond were not present, but the larger pond held hundreds of ducks. The vast majority are Lesser Scaups, a small sampling of Red-breasted Mergansers, Ruddy Duck and a Bufflehead could be seen. Much of view from the observation platform was obscured by the growth of mangroves, which means the managers of the state park should look to improve these facilities.

This little guy was seen along a very wet blue trail in December

Other sightings today included American White Pelican, Wood Stork, American Avocets, Willets, Killdeer, Red-shouldered Hawks, Palm Warblers and Pileated Woodpecker. Other species recently seen by myself and other birders include Whimbrel, Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, Redhead, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Merlin and Flickers.

Birding Without Borders

Monday, January 5th

Checking with e-bird today I notice the item about a fella named Noah Strycker who is attempting a global Big Year to break the world record by spotting 5,000 birds in 2015. I enjoyed reading 'The Biggest Twitch" by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller.  A couple of Brits who globe hopped the world and tally 3,904 species in 2008. And we've also see and or read the 'The Big Year'  So I found it intriguing to be able to follow Strycher's quest as featured by Audubon Magazine.

Let's see how he manages to reach his goal.