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.
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.
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