From page 212 in the ABA Bird Guide 'A Birder's Guide to Florida' by Bill Pranty, is a brief narrative concerning birding on Brown's Farm Road. This narrow road breaks off from cr-880 a few miles south of Belle Glade in what is referred to as the Everglades Agricultural Area. Come late summer and into Fall, the sugar, rice and sod fields here, can be a great place to find migrating grass peeps and shorebirds. A major attraction for these birds are the flooded cane fields. The farmers will flood these fields between crops to kill off nematodes and other root attaching pests, and the migrating shorebirds flock to these man-made wetlands.
Currently, near the northern terminus to Browns' Farm Road is a very large flooded field were some early shorebirds have arrived including several Wilson's Phalaropes. These phalaropes are very uncommon in Florida and there appearance here was an inspiration for Bob Pelkey and I to visit today.
|Wilson's Phalarope with a Semipalmated Sandpiper|
We arrived about 9 AM and met Peter Hawrylyshy and Robert Lewis who had already had eyes on the phalaropes. The birds were a distance out but we could clearly see there twirling movements as the feed. Other species present included Wood Storks, a Roseate Spoonbill, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Black-belled Plovers, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, a lone Stilt Sandpiper, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers,Laughing Gulls, Gull-billed Terns, Black Terns and a Re-shouldered Hawks. This site did lack waterfowl and white pelicans and only a few wading birds. This a nearby colony of Cliff and Cave Swallows at a small cement bridge over the canal on cr-880. We also checked-out the nearby Six-bend Sod Farm for grass peeps, but its still early yet and the sod fields were quite. The Uppies should be arriving in a couple of weeks.
Photo by Bob Pelkey
Earlier we did some investigating along Brown's Farm Road for any other hot spots. We were able to locate Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, more Black-necked Stilts, Mottled Ducks, Common Gallinule, Solitary Sandpipers, Killdeer, a lone Pectoral Sandpiper, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-herons, Common Nighthawks, Anhingas, a lone American White Pelican, Barn and Cliff Swallows, Glossy and White Ibis, various waders, White-winged, Mourning, Eurasian Collared and Ground Doves, Eastern Meadowlarks, Red-shouldered Hawk, a very high count on Green Herons and a great many Brown Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds and Boat-tailed Grackles.
While on the phone with Dave McQuaid for an up-date on directions, we had a Gull-billed Tern right past the car. We managed to get a few pictures as a trio of the terns made several passes up and down the canal as they hunted.
Photo by Bob Pelkey
|Black-bellied Whistling Duck|
There was one more stop to make after finishing up at Brown's Farm Road and that was to visit Belle Glade Marina on Torry Island, just a few north at Lake Okeechobee. Here, we are after a pair of Shiny Cowbirds, but we hit a snag. Seems that the bridge providing access to Torry Island was under repair and would be closed for most of the day, except between Noon and One PM. We had almost a forty-five minute wait, but it was worth it. The male Shiny Cowbird was easily located within a few short minutes. We dipped in the orchard orioles and eastern kingbirds, but did see a Cooper's Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Limpkin and a Great Egret which after reviewing its photo may possibly be a White Great Heron based on the leg color.
|Is this a Great Egret or Great White Heron?|
|Apple Snail shell at Belle Glade Marina. |
No doubt refuse from a Limpkin's meal
Other sightings on the day included Swallow-tailed Kites, Ospreys, Crested Caracara, Red-tailed Hawk Chimney Swift and Fish Crows. I'd have to say that a return trip is necessary after migration heats up.