Saturday, May 28, 2016


Thursday, May 26th

Common Nighthawks

I arrived this morning at 6:45 am at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County to be on-hand to observe Red-cockadated Woodpecker as they exit there nest holes at sunrise.  Over the years I've been successful with this strategy, making my stop at the RCW colony location on Oil Well Grade. Lately though its seems that this colony is down to a single bird. It emerged at 7 am.

Great Crested Flycatcher
The three special bird species sought here included the RCW, Bachman's Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch.

The Bachman's Sparrow is a relatively secretive bird hanging low in the palmettos. But the best time to find them here is March through May when the males will be singing on territory. The remainder of the year it can be just plain luck to sight one, outside of flushing a bird while trodding through the palmetto scrub. Today I heard two males in song, but back into the pines.
Eastern Towhee
White-tailed Buck
So I had quickly ticked off two the three specialties. But I dipped on the nuthatch. Eastern Towhees, Eastern Meadowlarks, Pine Warblers, Common Ground Doves and Mockingbirds were everywhere though. Also did see a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks fly low over the property and thick concentrations of wading birds working the shrinking pools of water. As for quail, I heard a lone Northern  Bobwhite

Common Ground-Dove

Ebird list

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Babes on the Beach

Tuesday May 24th

Note the egg peaking out from under this nesting Least Tern
Least Tern
Today I returned to the Least Tern nesting area on Ft Myers Beach to see how they have been progressing. Hundreds of the terns remain actively nesting and many have already fledged. Hundreds Black Skimmers have now joined the terns and appear to be nesting as well. 

Least Tern

Snowy Plover
Sighted at least nine Snowy Plovers, but didn't see any juveniles. One poor guy was suffering from foot rot. 

Did see a family of Wilson's Plovers with three very young chicks. 

Best sighting was spotting a young American Oystercatcher chick with its parents. Seems to me that past nesting attempts here by oystercatchers suffered from predation, so it was a pleasure to see the baby bird today.
Nesting Black Skimmer

Wilson's Plover with Chicks

American Oystercatcher Chick

Mottled Duck

Male Black Scoter over summering in Florida

Ruddy Turnstone

Brown Pelicans

Closest I've ever been to a Hammerhead Shark

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Keys

Wednesday May 11th

Monday, I made my yearly stop in the Town of Marathon in the Florida Keys looking for the nesting Roseate Terns and the seasonal Antillean Nighthawks. Both of these species arrive in the Keys in the Spring. The Roseate Terns are a primarily pelagic species, but members from the Caribbean population will come ashore for nesting.

Roseate Tern

In Marathon the small number will join with Least Terns to nest atop the Marathon Government Center building. I arrived about 5:30 pm and sited at least six of the Roseate Terns as well as the Least Terns, White-crowned Pigeons and Double-crested Cormorants. Next was a long wait at the nearby Marathon Airport of sundown to await the appearance of a pair of Antillean Nighthawks.
They began calling right at sundown and took flight shortly after. Other species seen during my wait included Gray Kingbirds, more White-crowned Pigeons, a Common Myna and Chimney Swifts.

Prior to reaching Marathon, I made a stop at the tollbooth area on Card Sound Road to look for any Yellow Warblers or Black-whiskered Vireo. But all was quite. Next stop was Carysfort Key Largo. Here were seen a flock of Bobolinks, White-crowned Pigeons and calling Black-whiskered and White-eyed Vireos
Gray Kingbird

Down the road was Dagny Johnson Hammock Biological State Park were I had planned to connect with Mangrove Cuckoos. But OOPS!!. The park is closed for renovations. Seems they're stripping the property of man made structures built prior to acquiring the hammock. 

This gave me more time to stop at Long Key State Park. Earlier in the year the Golden Orb Trail here was active with birders looking for the Zenaida Dove and Key West Quail-Dove. Both extreme rarities. Bob Pelkey and I made a try back in January on the dove but dipped. Neither bird have been reported for some time, but I was very pleasantly surprised to sight a pair of Connecticut Warblers on the trail.  Lifers!!. Florida birders have a very small window as they migrate north and even then counts are low as they are hard to locate.  This year seems folks are have better success. Also seen here were an unidentified thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Prairie Warblers, American Redstarts and lots of Ovenbirds. This would be my best stop of the trip.
Pigeon Plum is a common tree at Long Key State Park.

Tuesday was spent exploring in Dade County. Made stops at Kendall Baptist Hospital area and found a couple of Monk and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, but no bulbuls, spot-breasted orioles or mitred parakeets. Additional stops at Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables and A D Barnes Park  were a total wash-out. Very quite. Last stop was was at the Snapper Creek Canal Cave Swallow site, were several Cave Swallows were observed, but were much too fast for my photography.

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet

South Florida is not just a place to look for wild exotic birds, but also a place to find exotic lizards.
Green Iguanas are found everywhere
At Mathesson Hammock I spotted several exotic lizards sunning themselves. Including Green Iguana, West African Rainbow Agamas, Brown Basilisks and a Puerto Rican Crested Anole. Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguanas were seen at Snapper Creek Canal.

Northern Brown Basilisk
West African Redheaded Agama

West African Redheaded Agama

Puerto Rican Crested Anole