Friday, February 5, 2016

On To Tallahassee

Tuesday, February 2nd

Day Two
St Marks Lighthouse

On day two of our birding trip to North Florida, Bob Pelkey and left Gainesville, skipping our missed venues from yesterday, and headed to Tallahassee.

Whooping Crane?

Savannah Sparrow
Our first stop were the cow ponds along Biltmore Avenue to see the whooping crane that has been roosting here.  Seems a local birder, Marcelle Praetorios, advised that the whooper hadn't returned to the pond last night and wasn't present today.  we also missed the canada geese as they had left the pond a short time prior to our arrival.

Carolina Chickadee

A Young Chipping Sparrow

We did see four Buffleheads, a flock of American Pipits, Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows, a flock of Cedar Waxwings, Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, White Ibis, Tree Swallow, Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers and Eastern Meadowlarks.


We next visited with a nice lady in Tallahassee who has a fabulous bird sanctuary in her backyard. There, we also met a nice couple from Canada who were also there to enjoy the hummingbirds too. Bob I both had Lifers with the pair of Black-chinned and a Calliope Hummingbirds. The feeders also attracted a Ruby-throated and Rufus Hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows, Cardinals, and even an Orange-crowned Warbler taking a drink from a hummingbird feeder.
Baltimore Oriole

Pine Siskin

Calliope Hummingbird

House Finch

Chipping Sparrow

St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Our final stop for the day was at St Marks NWR. We spent the final three of day light here looking to photograph birds. First off, there were few waterfowl. The ponds near the lighthouse were virtually empty of ducks. Looks like migration is underway.

Black-crowned Night-heron

Vermilion Flycatcher
See spotted four Wood Ducks up at the visitors center, and a few Buffleheads, a few Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, a nice raft of Redheads and Lesser Scaups later. One target we did succeed in was a Vermilion Flycatcher at Stoney Bayou. Also seen were American White Pelicans,  a lot of American Coots, Common Gallinule a rare bird candidate in a Purple Gallinule at Headquarters Pond, a family of Black-crowned Night-herons, a calling Clapper Rail, a Marsh Wren, a Sedge Wren, heard a Great Horned Owl and Eastern Towhees. Shorebirds included Sanderlings, Short-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin,Willets, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
American White Pelicans in fishing formation

Eastern Phoebe




White-tailed Deer

Operation Migration

When we arrived at St Marks, we met a couple of folks from Operation Migration setting up one of there ultralight aircraft for a special event this weekend.  This is in anticipation of the arrival of the latest class of young Whooping Cranes being trained to migrate from Wisconsin to there winter home here at St Marks.

Due to the bad weather that has been plaguing the South this winter, whoopers have been held up in Georgia. From there, when weather conditions improve they will make their final push to reach St Marks. You can follow there progress at Operation Migration

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