Friday, December 8, 2017

A Day In Sarasota County

Thursday December 7th

Spent the day up in Sarasota County today with stops at the Celery Fields, Siesta Key and Myakka River State Park.
A pair of Nanday Parakeets were feeding
at the feeders at the Celery Fields

Arrived on a very foggy morning, at day break at the Celery Fields. It wasn't very birdy. Not many ducks, but An American Bittern did make a long flight across the marsh. My best birds here were a pair of Bronzed Cowbirds in the company of Grackles, Starlings and Brown-headed Cowbirds near the butterfly gardens.
Bronzed Cowbird at the Celery Fields

Bronzed Cowbird. Note the Red Eyes

Ring-billed Gull
At the beach at Siesta Key, a great many gulls and terns were seen resting on the shore. Nothing unusual, but the expected Herring, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, Black Skimmers, Royal, Sandwich, Forster's and Common Terns

Herring Gulls

Sandwich Tern

Common Tern

Herring Gull

A Tricolored Heron at Myakka River
A Horned Grebe on Myakka River
At Myakka River State State, I was expecting to see a diverse number of water fowl species.
But not today. A few Lesser Scaup, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Mottled Ducks were counted.  Best bird of the day here was was my FOS Horned Grebe.  Some other species seen included Tree Swallows, Yellowlegs, a single Black-necked Stilt, Caspian Terns and a pair of courting Bald Eagles. If you like alligators there were dozens on hand.
Lots of Black Vultures at Myakka

White Ibis at Myakka

Lesser Yellowlegs at Myakka

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Back to the Tomato Fields

Wednesday December 6th

A Crested Caracara dining on a road killed Spotted Skunk along Church Road
After work Wednesday morning, I headed back to the flooded Tomato Fields along Oil Well Road near Ava Maria. The water levels at the Tomato Fields are usually drying up by now, but we still have water and birds. A scope is important here.
Greater Scaup

Mostly American Coots, Mottled Ducks and Blue-winged Teal are present with a few Green-winged Teal on hand.  The numbers of Northern Shovelers had risen, and other water fowl remained a bit sparse. Included A male Greater Scaup a few Lesser Scaup, and a lone Northern Pintail.  A ruddy duck has been reported, but I hadn't seen any. 

Northern Pintail
Also in much lower numbers was a mere eight American White Pelican. Other species seen included Common Gallinule, hundreds of Glossy Ibis, Rosette Spoonbills, and the usual waders. A pair of Bald Eagles are nesting in a tall pine on the back side of the field.

Also made a stop at the two bridges location. Sighted a Snail Kite, Limpkins, Black-belled Whistling Ducks and large numbers of Anhingas and Cormorants.  Had stopped to look for any western kingbirds, but none spotted today.
Lesser Scaup with the male Greater Scaup

Great Crested Flycatcher seen along Oil Well Road

Tricolored Heron seen at the Bridges

White-winged Dove seen along Church Road

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Bird Blitz

Friday December 1st

Start of a new month and I was going to make a day of it. A birding blitz to visit as many venues as I can to see as many species as possible.

Eastern Phoebe at Gunners Trail
After checking the tide charts, I elected to start the day at Bunche Beach at sunrise. Walked to both ends, partly in the company of Wes . That's about two miles of coverage. Not terribly birdy. Missed a few expected species. Some sightings included Caspian Tern, American White Pelican, Reddish Egret, Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, Fosters Terns and Wood Storks.

Red-shouldered Hawk at Gunners Trail

Next stop was the Gunners' Trail at Wild Turkey Strand in Lehigh Acres. Again the venue wasn't as birdy as expected. Encountered Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Ducks, Snail Kite, Red-shouldered Hawks, Tree Swallows, Common Gallinules, House Wrens, Catbirds, Eastern Phoebes, Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Dipped on purple gallinules, swamp sparrows  and black-belled whistling ducks.

Bee Hive seen along the Gunners Trail
Traveled further east to the orange groves on Church Road. Dipped on the expected caracara and white-winged doves,  Did find Wild Turkey, more Wood Storks, and American Kestrel.

Gray -headed Swamphen at Harns Marsh
At Harns Marsh, in Lehigh Acres, the low bird activity continues. Only ducks seen were a pair of Blue-winged Teal. Gray-headed Swamphens were easily seen. Only a single pair of Sandhill Cranes. Did get a Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk being mobbed by a crow. And only heard a single Limpkin. Weird . Dipped on purple gallinule, snail kite, ring-necked ducks and sparrows.
Sandhill Crane at Harns Marsh

Continuing on to other locations in Lehigh Acres - known for scrub jays and red-headed woodpeckers, but came up empty. Then to the White's Feeders in Alva. Only a Red-bellied Woodpecker. On my previous visits here in November I have seen  a ruby -throated hummingbird and an ovenbird. Strange too has been an absence of any white-winged doves so far this season. The Greater White-breasted Goose was still seen on North River Road.

American Coot at Harns Marsh
Did finally see a Red-headed Woodpecker at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve. And then the Bald Eagles at the famous Pritchett Eagle Nest in North Ft Myers. At the Festive Park site in north Cape Coral I dipped on the Florida scrub jays. Did add American Kestrel, Burrowing Owl and Loggerhead Shrike.

Wrapped up the day at the Pelican Boulevard Baseball Fields in Cape Coral. Besides the Burrowing Owls, I added a single Monk Parakeet and an Osprey.

Spent eight hours, walked about six mile and drove way too miles more. Had initially targeted a hundred bird day, but came up way short. Finished with only seventy.

Day List  -  Greater White-fronted Goose, Muscovy Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Duck, Wild Turkey, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Gray-headed Swamphen, Common Gallinule,  American Coot, Limpkin,  Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Willet, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Mourning Dove, Burrowing Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Monk Parakeet, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, House Wren, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle and Boat-tailed Grackle

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Tomato Fields, Plus

Thursday November 23rd

White-crowned Sparrow
Our wintering birds are starting to show up in our sunny corner of Florida. We always enjoy their arrival and sometimes rarities are among them.  Last winter we had a pair of Brants visit us for a few weeks.  This past week, another goose species has shown up. A juvenile Greater White-fronted Goose has been located in a pasture along North River Road. Any wild goose species is uncommon in our area, but I don't recall any reports on Greater White-fronted Geese.

A very distant look at the Greater White-fronted Goose
with a few Blue-winged Teal

I was able to observe the bird last Sunday morning in the company of several ardent Birders.  A scope is necessary as the bird will keep its distance. Was too far for my photography.

Yesterday I headed out early for the flooded Tomato Fields along Oil Well Road, near Ava Marie in Collier County. This time of year this location hosted numerous variety of birdlife - waterfowl, Canvasback, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Mottled Ducks, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes. But there were Huge numbers of American White Pelicans, Great Egrets and the rest of the waders. Water is a bit deep yet for any yellowlegs, avocets or black-necked stilts.  Maybe later
The Canvasbacks wouldn't come close enough
for any good pics
waders, peeps, etc, for a few weeks before it dries up. The variety of waterfowl is a short list at this time -

A few miles east on Oil Well Road is a location called the Two Bridges. Went to this location to look for Western Kingbirds, which was located actually about a mile west of the Two Bridges. Had an interesting observation were a half dozen birds roosting in a pair of barren trees. Due to the lighting conditions I couldn't make out what they were until they flew. Snail Kites. Other species here included lots of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Blue-winged Teal, American Bittern, Anhingas, Cormorants, Limpkins, Grebes, Black-crowned Night-herons and Palm Warblers.

Next was a bit of a drive to the Big Cypress National Preserve--Oasis Visitor Center out on the Tamaimi Trail by the Everglades. David True has been reporting some nice sightings from here.  Especially sparrows. I was interested in getting a picture or two of a White-crowned Sparrow and rewarded with a bird willing to pose. 

Gator at Two Bridges

American Bittern

Western Kingbird

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gunners Trail

Thursday November 16th

Much of the Gunners Trail remains quite wet
Wild Turkey Strand Preserve is a large parcel of Lee County property acquired as part the 20/20 program to preserve environmental sensitive lands. Much of this property was formally part of the Buckingham Army Air Force Flexible Gunnery Training Base. The base was operational from 1942 till 1945 were 50,000 American servicemen trained in aerial gunnery for service aboard bombers.

Today the Gunner's Trail is a part of the Wild Turkey Strand Preserve were remnants from the former gunnery school can be observed along the trail. It is also a place for the observation of Florida wetlands. A further purpose for the property is a wildlife corridor. Florida panthers have been seen off the trail as well

Download Buckingham Army Air Field brochure 

Wild Turkey Strand Preserve Trail Map
House Wren

A couple of days ago I took a walk on the 1.8 mile Gunner's Trail, which was quite wet. It will dry down later.

Gray Catbirds, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers and House Wrens were very active today. The marshy areas hosted Belted KingfisherAmerican Coots, Common Gallinules, Purple Gallinules, Limpkins, Blue-winged Teals, Mottled Ducks, Black-belled Whistling Ducks, Anhingas, Wilson's Snipe, Glossy and White Ibis, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons and other waders.

Other birds on the day included Snail Kites, Red-shouldered Hawks, Northern Harrier, Tree Swallows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Northern Cardinals, Downy Woodpecker and several Swamp Sparrows.

Probably a Golden-winged Skimmer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Limpkin Babies

Saturday November 11th

I had heard that the pair of limpkins at Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve now had four chicks. Today I was fortunate to be able to observe this limpkin family. I understand that they had hatched about two weeks ago. Both parents were actively hunting for apple snails to feed their large brood.