Monday, January 25, 2016

American Flamingo

Monday, January 25th

We're having a little excitement around here as a celebrity visitor is has been showcasing its beauty at a local beach. Folks have been traveling from near and far for the opportunity to meet this unusual guest to Lee County. 
American Flamingo at Bunche Beach

Many people think of this visitor as a Florida icon, but American Flamingos are not often easily seen in the Sunshine State. A very small number have been seasonal in hard to reach sites in Everglades National Park, as well as recent sightings in restricted areas of Palm Beach County. But last week this bird appeared at Bunche Beach Preserve, providing exquisite views for the many birders flocking to the site. An Awesome bird.

My speculation on the provenience of the Flamingo could possibly be associate with the El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean. As the bird lacks any leg bandings, it can be assumed the it is not an escapee, but a wild bird. Unusual wind patterns and strong thunderstorms coming across the Gulf of Mexico could have pushed the bird from its wintering grounds in Mexico to our coast. Hope it sticks around for awhile.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Black Scoters

Monday, January 18, 2015

Today I spent the morning birding on Ft Myers Beach. I was hoping to locate some Black Scoters as well as a reported Surf Scoter being seen along the beach.

First stop was at Bowditch Point Park, located at the north end of the island. Not much was happening here, but a few gulls and cormorants. Did see a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

This Gopher Tortoise resides near the parking lot at Bowditch Point Park

Next was a very productive stop at Carlos Point at the south end of the island. Yesterday's violent storm had washed the beach with a large quantity of sea life including sea urchins, sea stars, horseshoe crabs,jellyfish, sponges, sand dollars and a lot of shells.  All of this was a banquet for the shorebirds, including Willets, American Oystercatchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, Snowy Plovers and more. Also found a Great Black-backed Gull and a small number of Ringed-billed and Laughing Gulls, plus some Royal Terns.  A flock of Black Skimmers passed by of shore and inshore I did see a trio of Black Scoters. I didn't spot the surf scoter and also dipped on common loon, horned grebe, and frigatebirds.
Great Black-backed Gull

American Oystercatcher

This Oystercatcher is sporting three leg bands while dining on sea urchin
This bird, designated as DG(XX), was banded as a chick in June, 2010 in Cape Hatteras, N. C.
 Each year it has been wintering at Little Estero Lagoon, Ft Myers Beach, but returns each spring to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
 In 2015 it successfully fledged a chick, with oystercatcher DG(AL) at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Data provided by the American Oystercatcher Band Database 
Snowy Plover with lunch
Ruddy Turnstone

Snowy Egret

Male Black Scoter

Sea Urchin and Welk

Sea Stars


A Fighting Conch shell

Friday, January 15, 2016

Return to Winkler Pint - Estero Preserve State Park

Monday January 11th

Returned to Winkler Point trails at Estero Preserve State Park in search of birds to boost my 2016 bird list. The location is very challenging, but today, due to low temperatures the walk was insect free. But recent rains have almost completed flooded the location.
Trail Marker at Winkler Point

So I trudged through the standing water  to the large pond at the south end of the preserve. There I was able to identify a pair of Buffleheads, another pair of Ruddy Ducks and hundreds of Lesser Scaups. At the smaller pond I spotted a few dozen skiddish American Wigeons, but didn't see any mottled ducks, pintails or blue-winged tea.
American Wigeon

 Later I added a Merlin, Red-breasted Mergansers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plovers, American Avocets, American White and Brown Pelicans.  

Also spotted a Short-tailed Hawk and a Salt Marsh Sparrow and a Nelson's Sparrow. Dipped on any wrens, rails or bitterns.

Short-tailed Hawk

Greater Yellowlegs

Saw many of these Common Buckeyes today

Birding in Cape Coral

Friday January 15th
Mangled lighting

Today we experienced severe weather including continuing tornado warnings. Just last Saturday residents of Cape Coral experienced a touch down of an EF-2 Tornado. More than two hundred homes were damaged and the baseball fields on Pelican Boulevard were damaged as well.
Some of the damage at the Baseball Fields
Monk Parakeet at Pelican Boulevard Ball Fields 

The ballfield was also home to a colony of nesting Monk Parakeets and several Burrowing Owls. On Monday I ventured into the area to conduct a birding survey of the Cape. 

The stop at a ballfield revealed damage to trees, fencing and the lighting structures. As for the birds I only spotted a single parakeet and no owls. 

Next headed to the Festival Park area (still undeveloped) at the interestion of Kismet and Chiquita. Finally spotted a Burrowing Owl, Eastern Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Kestrel, and several Florida Scrub Jays.
The Monk Parakeet making adjustments to a surviving nest

More Birds of Cape Coral

Burrowing Owl at Festival Park

Eastern Meadowlark

Florida Scrub Jay

Python Challenge 2016

Thursday January 15th

Tomorrow kicks off the Python Challenge of 2016.  These exotic invaders have the real potential to be a devastating threat to South Florida ecosystems as the large snakes, being top predators, are already wiping out prey species.  Rabbits, raccoons and other small mammals are disappearing within the snakes range and they are a threat to many of the endangers species such as spoonbills and wood storks

Hundreds of hunters will be searching for these serpents in and around the Everglades in hopes of winning cash prizes. PETA types are concerned about any cruelty to the snakes, The hunt will last until Valentines Day and it wil be interesting to see how of these invaders are remove

Links to Python Challenge Sites