Monday, August 31, 2015

Looking for Terns

Monday, August 31st

Today I visited Bunche Beach Preserve from 9 am till 10 to take advantage of a rising tide and to look for Black and Common Terns. Black terns usually show up in our corner of Florida just before Labor Day and today we found at least six at Bunche.  Was also able to add a first-for-the-year, for me, Common Tern. Plus a few Royal Terns, several Sandwich Terns and a few lingering Least Terns.

Roseate Spoonbill

The exposed mud flats at this low tide had attracted hundreds of shore and wading birds as well. They included Willets, Marbled Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Piping Plovers, a Snowy Plover, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots, Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers and Brown Pelicans. We also had Great Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Reddish Egrets, White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills.

Other sightings include Osprey, a Bald Eagle, Barn Swallows, Belted Kingfisher and Northern Cardinals. What a great venue!!

 A Photo Gallery of Today's Birds

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover
Common Tern

Black Tern

Royal Tern

Least Tern, wearing its winter plumage

Sandwich Tern

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill
Willet dining on a crab
A tagged Red Knot. Can't read the tag

Short-billed Dowitcher

Marbled Godwit

Great Blue Heron


Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Snowy Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Revisit to the Everglades Ag Fields

Tuesday, August 25th

Today, Bob Pelkey and I returned to the Everglades Ag Area south of Belle Glade in Palm Beach County to look for birds we missed three weeks ago. These targets included upland sandpiper, buff-breasted sandpiper wilson's phalarope and barn owls.

We arrived at sunrise at Brown's farm Road and CR 880 to find the heron roost there loaded with egrets, herons, anhingas, night-herons and ibis.

We then moved on and checked a couple of flooded fields in the area. The wading and shorebird numbers were down, but the number of swallows had swollen, especially Barn Swallows.  We also found Cliff, Bank and FOS Tree Swallows. One of these flooded fields was very active and had been the sight of reported wilson's phalaropes just three days prior.  Bob and scoped the site for an hour and a half without sighting the phalaropes. We did find Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, FOS Blue winged Teal, Mottled Duck, American Avocet, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilts, Common gallinule and American Coots

Juvenile Tricolored Heron. Note the strange bill on this bird

A young Barn Swallow

Bank Swallow

Black-necked Stilt

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs
We then checked the sod fields at 8-mile bend and King Ranch properties for grass peeps and found them virtually devoid of migrant birds.

So we had dipped on three of our four targets of the day, which just left us to check out the barn owl roost on Miami Canal. We initially believed that we had missed out here.  But as Bob was maneuvering his camera to get a good shot of out FOS Eastern Kingbird, a Barn Owl burst out from cover and immediately disappeared deeper into the stand.

A last stop was made in Clewiston, at the Hoover Dike to look for any bronze cowbirds. What we did see were about fourteen Swallow-tailed Kites soaring westerly with a high flying Cooper's Hawk diving at a couple of the kites.  Not sure why the hawk has attaching the kites, but it was an entertaining conclusion for the trip.

Common NightHawk

Cattle Egret

Red-shouldered Hawk

Great Egrets
Compilation Bird Lists from Both Visits this Month - (81)

Great Egret
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Bobwhite, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, King Rail, Purple Gallinule, Gray-headed Swamphen, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove,
Common Ground-Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Barn Owl, Common Nighthawk, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, Fish Crow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird and House Sparrow

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Friday, August 21st

For the past week the boardwalk at Six-Mile Sough Preserve has been closed for maintenance and will be closed for at least another week. So our efforts to bird spring migrants is limited to the parking area and butterfly garden.

Recently it seemed that we were finding most of the best sightings around the parking area anyway, so spending a few minutes in early morning could still offer some good prospects. So today I felt lucky in spotting my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee and a roosting Short-tailed Hawk

Short-tailed Hawk perched at Six-mile Cypress Preserve
 The Short-tailed Hawk is one of the rarest birds found in Florida. It is reported that there are only about 500 of these birds living here. We see both the dark and light phases. Currently a pair of dark Short-tailed Hawks have been regulars at Six-mile Cypress Slough.

The species is far more common in tropical Mexico and south into South America. This species needs large tracts of riparian woodlands and cypress swamps and is rarely observed roosting. We do see them soaring above the forests as they search for there primary prey, small birds.

Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) web site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Everglades Agricultural Area

Tuesday, August 4th

The month of August is a good time to investigate the fields, farms and flooded lands of what  is described as the Everglades Agricultural Area, in western Palm Beach County. Bill Pranty in his 'A Birders Guide to Florida' (2005) tells us that these flooded fields attract thousands of  wading birds, migrating shorebirds and  larids. Coveted rare species include uplands sandpiper, buff-breasted sandpiper and Wilson's phalarope. The uplands and buff-breasted sandpipers should appear latter in the month on the sod farms. Today we hoping to find the phalaropes.

American White Pelicans

 These flooded cane fields were our destination today, as Bob Pelkey and I were in search of these seasonal birds.  Our first stop of the day was a visit to the 'cypress stand' along the Miami Canal at its junction of SR-827, at sunrise. The cypress stand is a noted spot for barn owls and I've seen some here in the past. But not today. We did see several Barn Swallows, a couple of Bank Swallows, Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Tricolored Herons and a calling Bobwhite.

Along CR-827 and the bordering Bolles Canal we had calling King Rail, Green Herons, A Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, Common Yellow-Throats, more Bank and Barn Swallows, Killdeer, a Limpkin and a very large Bobcat.
Bobcat seen in the cane fields

Purple Gallinule along the Bolles Canal

Along US-27 we found a large flooded areas featuring Black and Gull-billed Terns, Black-necked Stilts and American White Pelicans. We also found a Caspian Tern, Solitary Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.
Solitary Sandpiper

Black Tern

Black Tern

Green Heron
The nearby King Ranch Sod Farm had a few Least and Greater Yellowlegs, more Black-necked Stilts, Pectoral Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers.

Greater Yellowlegs

The Purple Swamphen has just been renamed the Gray-headed Swamphen,
to more accurately describe the particular purple swamphen species seen in south Florida

Black-necked Stilt

Pair of Black Terns

Black Tern

Roseate Spoonbill

Common Nighthawk
Along CR-880, just before reaching Brown's Farm Road were a dozen or so Cliff Swallows lining the telephone lines. Further up at the 6-Mile Bend Sod Farm we scanned for any grass peeps, only finding a lone Killdeer and single Sandhill Crane.

Our final, and very fruitful stop was a series, of what appeared to be, formerly flooded, but now muddy and wet fields along Brown's Farm Road. It had to have been this location that two days ago, a pair of Wilson's phalaropes were reported. We did not find any but there were thousands of birds present. Waders were here in huge numbers including Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Tricolored Herons, Green Herons, Cattle Egrets, Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night-herons. Migrating shorebirds included Least and Western Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, American Avocets and hundreds of Black-necked Stilts, many with young of various stages of growth.
Wood Storks

Glossy Ibis

Pectoral Sandpiper

American Avocet with Black-necked Stilt

American Avocets

American Avocet

Black-crowned Night-heron

Others sightings here included Mottled Ducks, American White Pelicans, Bald Eagle, Common Nighthawk, a Black Skimmer, Black Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Barn Swallows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds and Boat-tailed Grackles.