Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Looking for Birds

Wednesday November 23rd

Well it seems that I am not a very good birder.  Through out the year I've  chased after many interesting birds.  Many I was able to see, but those misses can be so disappointing and annoying.
American White Pelicans
Yesterday, I toured birding venues around Pasco County were so many interesting birds are being reported.  Started out at Hudson Beach Park. I hadn't been here since I was kid back in the 60s. Back then, my family took our yearly  vacation to visit my Grandparents, who lived in New Port Ricky. We spent a lot of time at Hudson Beach. That was before much of anything had been developed out there. The beach was really just a rocky shoreline, where we caught tiny blowfish and sea horses. There was a cinder block snack shop on site and there was very little shade. Our sunburns were terrible.

I arrived at Hudson Beach at seven-thirty to a much more modern beach setting. The air was cool and Monk Parakeets were squeaking nearby. Was hoping to be successful in adding my name to the list of birders who have sighted a rare-to-Florida Red-necked Grebe. Well after an hour of scanning, it appeared that I had dipped. There was a grebe, but it seemed to me to be a Horned Grebe. A trio of Buffleheads (first of the season for me), a pair of Bald Eagles perched together on  signage in the channel and some Mallards were present.
American Bittern
From here I went twelve mile north to Bayport Park and Jenkins Creek Park for the female Brewer's Blackbird. This lone Brewers has been a reliable winter visitor to this location for a few years now always in the company of Boat-tail Grackles. Back in February, Bob Pelkey and I dipped on this bird, and now I dipped on it again. Several birders reported seeing it at Bayport on the same day as my visit. Interesting birds seen here included an American Bittern at Bayport and a huge flock of American Pelicans soaring southward over Jenkins Creek.
Wood Storks
Plus a flock of resting Wood Storks at nearby Linda Pedersen Park

Next stop was Key Vista Nature Park in Holiday. Made a second stop at Hudson Beach Park first, were results were not better. Arrived at Key Vista Park a bit after eleven where I did, finally, see one of my target birds in a Red-breasted Nuthatch of maybe two. Not a Lifer for me , but the a first for me in Florida. Normally this species doesn't venture this far south in the winter, but several have now been reported in Alachua, Pasco and Pinellas Counties. Tried to get pics before they moved out of sight, but they were much to active. Another species that shouldn't be this far south was a confirmed Winter Wren.  I couldn't get a photo of the wren either but heard it several times close to the parking lot. Other interesting birds seen here included  a FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Tufted Titmice.

Next stop was Philippe County Park in Safety Harbor. I've never been there before but it was quite nice. Came here to look for Brown Boobies know to seen resting on the power line towers located off-shore. Needed to use my scope, but could pick out at least three boobies among the scores of Double-crested Cormorants and Brown Pelicans on the furthest tower. Other interesting birds included Ospreys and a Bald Eagle.
Northern Harrier
A final stop was to look for the yellow-headed blackbird at Ackerman Park in Sarasota. It was supposed to be easy. Others had seen it that day. But I dipped. Interesting birds present included Brown-headed Cowbirds, a Northern Harrier and a few Northern Shovelers.
Brown-headed Cowbird
In reflection, it wasn't a bad trip.  But the most annoying thing about missing some of the birds, and you never get all of them, is that you can build up expectations based on all the successful results others have reported.

Just this past Monday I entered the Winkler Point section of Estero Bay Buffer State Park in Ft Myers. This is always a tough hike. Its usually wet and mucky, subject to hordes of mosquitoes and exposure to the elements can be draining. But the salt marshes here can host some very good birds.

Elected to give it try, based on some great, recent reports by friends on the bird activity here. The weather was good that day, cool with a light breeze, and there was no insect activity. But I could not replicate my friends list. Did see the hundred-plus American Avocets in the bay and a few Blue-winged Teal, a Green-winged Teal, Cooper's Hawk and heard a Clapper Rail,  but that was about all.

So, its actual quite unimportant, to fall a little short. Look for satisfaction in what you have accomplished. 
So What Kind of Grebe IS This?

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