Thursday, February 4, 2016

Looking For Birds in Gainesville

Monday, February 1st

It's vacation time and I've planned a five birding trip around North Florida looking for seasonal specialties. On Day One, Bob Pelkey and I, started out from Ft Myers to bird our way up to Gainesville.
A scene from Bayport Park

Double-Crested Cormorant at Bayport Park
But not all plans work out as scheduled. First off, a bad weather front was expecting to move in by Wednesday, spoiling our itinerary. But as were passing by Tampa, there was flat tire. Luckily the the delay was only a couple of hours. 

Horned Grebe with it catch

Red-Breasted Merganser at Bayport
Ruddy Turnstone

Our next stop was a visit to Bayport Park near Hernando Beach to look for a brewers blackbird that has wintered here the past few years. Missed the blackbird but found Horned Grebes, Common Loon,  and Forster's, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls.

Then we stopped briefly at Tuscawilla Prairie Preserve at Micanopy in Alachua County. The target was a brown creeper. This are a very uncommon bird in Florida and would have been a nice to find one.  But not today.  We did add a Hermit Thrush, White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

A View at Tuscawilla Preserve in Micanopy

By now time is getting tight. We'll have to pass on stops in Gainesville at the La Chua Trail and Magnolia Parke. We have an option to check them out on Tuesday morning before leaving town, but that approaching  weather front had to be eliminated that option. 

Blue-Winged Teal at Sweetwater

We did stop at Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve in south Gainesville. A new venue for us and outstanding property for birding. We only spent a couple of hours, but could have spent twice the time. We found Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Limpkins, Coots, Common Gallinules, Glossy and White Ibis, lots of other waders, Osprey, Soras, Wilson's Snipe
Limpkin at Sweetwater
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

A Northern Shoveler


A Wilson's Snipe

A Gainesville Gator

Lastly we had to be at Dauer Hall on the U of Florida campus before sundown to witness the wintering Vaux's Swift as they came into roost in the chimney of this building. We arrived by 5 pm and had almost a hour's wait till we spotted the first swift at 5:57 as it circled the building. No more were seen till the flock arrived about 6:10 and enter the chimney in a sudden burst. Due to the diminished light and the birds rapid movement we could not capture any photos.

Vaux's Swift are a far western bird and it is highly irregular. though not unheard of, for these birds to winter in Florida instead of Mexico. The swifts were Lifer's for both of us
Dauer Hall, University of Florida

1 comment: