Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Some Birding in Mid-July

Tuesday, July 18th

The summertime doldrums will be  ending in the coming weeks as when we will start seeing birds migrating back to our local venues. But we still can find interesting birds here in mid-July.

Sometimes I'll check-out Lee and Domestic Streets in the Alico Industrial Area in San Carlos Park in early morning. I'm always looking for any Burrowing Owls and the other day I spotted several atop a privacy wall at the Alginol research property on Lee Road.  The lighting was terrible for photography, but I managed to get a very interesting pic just the same. Other notable birds here included a very large number of Mourning Doves, a few Eastern Meadowlarks and a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks.

Yesterday, I was finally able to get out to Bunche Beach during a favorable low tide. It was interesting to find seven Yellow-crowned Night-herons, six of them juveniles, taking advantage to the large numbers of fiddler crabs on the beach. Spotted a pair of Spotted Sandpipers, the first seen in weeks, and a very early Pectoral Sandpiper. Other sightings included a Magnificent Frigatebird, several Willets, Marbled Godwits, Black-bellied Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Sanderlings, Western and Least Sandpipers, a pair of Reddish Egrets and a lone American Oystercatcher.  Also spotted Laughing Gulls, Least, Sandwich and Royal Terns, Black Skimmers and a few Brown Pelicans. Was keen on finding any returning Piping Plovers, but none seen. They should be back soon.

Fiddler Crab on Bunche Beach

Marbled Godwit

Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

Wilson's Plover

Purple Gallinule

Gray-headed Swamphen

Tricolored Heron
Today Bob Pelkey and I made an early run out to Harns Marsh in Lehigh Acres. This venue has been the go-to spot in our area for Snail Kites and Limpkins. But today in the two hours we spent here, no Snail Kites were seen. They are continuing to become more difficult to see at Harns. Its believed to be a food issue. The managers of the property, it appears, are keeping water level high which doesn't help the Apple Snails in there reproductive cycles. So the kites have been going elsewhere for food.

We did see several Sandhill Cranes, Tricolored Herons, Great Egrets, Limpkins, Mottled Ducks, Vultures, Least Bitterns, Gray-headed Swamphens and Purple Gallinules. One interesting observation was a distant call of what sounded like an Eastern Phoebe. Never found the source of the call, but Phoebes are not expected for a couple of months yet. 

After Harns we checked out the Red-headed Woodpecker colony on Wellington Road in Lehigh Acres, were we spotted at least five, probably more of the woodpeckers, plus sighting of several Northern Bobwhites. This woodpecker colony should continue to be productive until the snags are eventually removed for development or just rot away. This particular location of snags was created by a brush fire that occasionally erupt in the area.

So there are always interesting birds
Red-headed Woodpecker

A Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker

Monday, July 4, 2016

Kites and Swallows

Monday, July 4th

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kites nest in  Florida, each Spring, generally in the Panhandle and in Northern Florida. Occasionally we can spot one in the Fall in Southwest Florida has they migrate to South America for the winter. But for some of us from Southwest Florida looking to see these birds, it can be much more rewarding to travel to Central Florida in the Summer.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Today Bob Pelkey and I traveled to Marion County to witness the gathering of dozens of Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites concentrating in a community called Belleview, located near Ocala. The attraction here is the large number of grasshoppers present that they are feeding on. We arrived at 9:15 and for the two and a half hours we watched both kite species as they soared, swooped and rested. Our count was about fourteen Mississippi Kites and about ten Swallow-tailed Kites. Meet some nice people and had a rewarding experience.
Mississippi Kite

After leaving Belleview, we traveled south, making a stop to the Lake Apopka - North Shore Wildlife Drive. Last year the St John's River Water Management District, who mange this property, opened the eleven mile, North Shore Wildlife Drive. On weekends and holidays the drives is opened to auto traffic, otherwise access is by foot. Today we found that the was open and was actually busy. Some of the species encountered today include numbers of Least Bitterns, Green Herons, Barn Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Gallinules. Other species included a, way early or way alte, Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilts, White-winged doves, Anhingas, Alligators and various wading bird species. We did dip on purple gallinules and fulvous whistling ducks. From here it was time to head for home
Barn Swallow

Blue-winged Teal
Barn Swallows

Black-necked Stilt