Sunday, May 21, 2017

Life on the Beach

Sunday May 21st


Recently made several visits to see whats happening along our shore line. Many of the shorebirds have already left for the the far North to nest, but some nest here as well. Some of these shorebirds, too young yet for nesting, will remain in the area for the summer.


Wilson's Plover

Local populations of Wilson' Plover, Snowy Plovers, American Oystercatcher nest on the beach on our barrier islands - Sanibel, Captiva, Cayo Costa and Estero Islands and Lovers Key.

Least Terns are arriving from their pelagic haunts to nest at their growing colony at Carlos Point on Estero Island.  They will be joined next month by Black Skimmers for their own nesting season.

Wilson's Plover are nesting at Ft Myers Beach


 Sea Turtle nesting season has also begun. Hopefully we'll see a good hatch this year.
To learn more on the subject visit Turtle Time.


We usually see Black Bellied Plovers  in their less impressive winter  molt
They have now molted into their more colorful breeding molt




Male Sanderling in breeding molt



Sanderling in alternate or breeding molt



Least Terns have arrived to nest at Carlos Point on Ft Myers Beach



Dunlin



Fiddler Crab found at Bunche Beach
Believe it is an Atlantic Sand Fiddler Crab



Fiddler Crab


Snowy Plover Chick



American Oystercatcher

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Last Hurrah

Sunday May 7th


Ruby Throated Hummingbird seen at Bowditch Point Park

Locally, the start of May heralds the waning of the Spring Bird Migration. So far we have been experiencing an unexceptionally low movement of neotropic birds. The prevailing winds have been pushing the migrating birds away from southwest Florida more toward the more western landfalls on the Gulf Coast. But just this past Friday the weather pattern had changed, pushing birds our way. Thus creating our Last Hurrah.

Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak

 I personally was able to find a few these new arrivals, but many birders who visited the Sanibel Lighthouse Park, Freedom Park in Naples and down on Marco Island,  had a great day.  Many warblers, thrushes, vireos, grosbeaks, buntings, cuckoos, bobolinks, tanager species, as well as, lots of hungry Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds were om hand. It wasn't Magee Marsh, but a very satisfying occasion.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Indigo Buntings singing from the trees

Black-and-White Warbler

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Still Looking for Birds

Tuesday, April 25th


Rose early on the final day in the Keys to make a final look for Roseate Terns at the Marathon Government Center. Arriving at sun rise, the site was fairly quite with a Least Terns and Magnificent Frigatebird flying over head. But shortly a large flock of Roseate Terns flew in. A White-crowned Pigeon seen in the parking lot. Time to move on.
Cape May Warbler seen at Key Largo Hammock State Park







Made a return stop nest at Key Largo Hammock State Park and walked the one mile Loop Trail. Aside from Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos, Palm Warblers and a lone Cape May Warbler the location was fairly quite.



Key Largo Hammock

Sight along the Loop Trail at Key Largo Hammock Park

Before leaving the Keys made another return stop to look for the Cuban Golden Yellow Warblers at Card Sound Road toll booth area. After parking, was immediately rewarded with a singing yellow warbler with in a few feet. The Golden is a Yellow Warbler sub-species from Cuba and the Caribbean and barely reaches into the mangroves of the Florida Keys.
Cuban Golden Yellow Warbler


Northern Curly-tailed Lizard seen at Card Sound Road
Next made another return stop at Lucky Hammock, just outside of Everglades National Park. The site was loaded with Flycatchers. Eastern Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.

Western Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird

From Lucky Hammock headed up to Coral Gables to Matheson Hammock Park were American Redstarts were dominate.  Other warblers seen included Blackpoll, Prairie, Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue, Cape May and Black-and-White. Other birds included Short-tailed Hawk, Chimney Swift and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. As for exotics birds seen a pair of Common Hill Mynas and a trio of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets.

Common Hill Myna
Matheson Hammock Park also hosts numerous exotic lizards - Basilisk lizards, African Rainbow Agamas, Green Iguanas, Crested Anoles and Knight Anoles.

Knight Anole

Crested Anole
One last stop, a return visit to the Snapper Creek Canal Cave Swallow Colony. On Sunday it was too rainy, but today Cave Swallows were zipping in and out of their nesting site below the Sunset Ave bridge. This wraps up my birding vacation. Lots of good sights , missed some too. Maybe next year.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Keys

Monday April 24th

Today's weather is warmer and dryer and the traffic on U.S. 1, heading toward Key West was very light. Started on Key Largo with stops at Crayfords Circle and Key Largo Hammock State Park. were very light on birds.  Mostly White-eyed Vireos, Palm Warblers and Cardinals. But did get ticks on two target birds - Black-whiskered Vireo and White-crowned Pigeon.

Gray Kingbirds were everywhere


Green Iguana

Next target were the sightings of a Bahama Mockingbird and a Western Spindalis feeding in a particular ficus tree in the parking lot of Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park. Arriving at about 9:30 am, noticed that a crowd of birders were stacking out the site. Seems they were a no show today.
So its time to move on.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo

 Next stop was Long Key State Park, were a recent sighting of a LaSarga Flycatcher, a vagrant from the Caribbean, was reported.  Not much was on hand here though, but had an interesting sighting of a lizard called a Six lined Racerunner.


Finally arrived at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West about 2 pm where a nice variety of migrants were on hand including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Dickcissel, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Cape May Warblers, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Cape May Warbler, American Redstart, Blackpoll Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Least Terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Indigo Bunting and Gray Kingbird. Green Iguanas were also common.

Indigo Bunting
From Key West I headed back toward Marathon, in the Middle Keys, because Roseate Terns are just now arriving here for nesting.  This is a pelagic species that basically are arriving from the Caribbean and few pairs will be nesting on the roof of the Marathon Government Buildings.  This afternoon, none were seen. Maybe too early.

The other reason to visit Marathon is to locate another off-shore species, the Antillean Nighthawk which can be seen at the Marathon Airport in the spring and early summer. Stacked out a spot near the northern end of the airport to wait on sundown for the nighthawk to become active. Around 8 pm its distinctive call could be heard, but this bird did not take flight over this end of the airport property.


This young bird maybe a Black-whiskered Vireo



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rainy Day in Miami

Sunday April 23rd



Spring migration can be fun or frustrating for Florida Birders. It all depends of the weather conditions. So far birding activities have been slow till today. With arrival of very much needed rain and westerly winds, we're starting to see some action.

The rains also coincided with a short birding vacation I had been planning for several weeks with the idea of heading for the Florida Keys and southern Miami-Dade  County for neo-tropical migrants, as well as, South Florida specialties.


So, today it's raining. But that is actually a good thing for several reasons. Mostly though, is the fact that in this end of Florida the dangers from brush fires is quite real. In fact, as I am traveling across Alligator Alley toward my destination, smoldering, smoking, blackened remnants of has been labeled the Cowbell Fire in the Big Cypress Preserve can be seen from the highway. There's a large brush fire at Merritt Island NWR their calling the Black Point Fire, and locally in 7,000 residents had to evacuate their homes in Golden Gate Estates where several homes were destroyed and fire fighters even had to help rescue a trapped rhino from a ravaged exotic animal sanctuary.. A smaller brush fire in Lehigh Acres, near Harns Marsh was quickly contained, but more property was destroyed there as well.


Muscovy Ducks can been found in urban areas
through out Florida



Made my first stop on this trip at the Chapel Trail in Pembroke Pines.  It was a quick visit, were I was able to find a trio of Gray-headed Swamphens. Usually we can easily find them at Harns Marsh, but the marsh has been drying up and the Swamphens have had to move elsewhere.

Egyptian Goose

Then onto Kendal Baptist Hospital campus where the waterfowl didn't seem to care much about the rain. Lots of Muscovy Ducks, domestic breeds of geese and duck, a lone Egyptian Goose, a fly over of Mitred Parakeets, Common Gallinules, White Ibis, Fish Crows and House Sparrows.

Crossing over to the north side of Kendal Road, I drove around this neighborhood in search of red-whiskered bulbuls. With the rain slowing down, thought that maybe they maybe  active. Didn't see any, but one feeder was hosting a trio of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets.


The rains have slowed quit a bit now as I entered the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables. This location can be a great site for exotic parrots and other avian species. In the past we have seen Scaly-headed Parrot, Spot-breasted Oriole, Red-masked Parakeet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, White-winged Parakeet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw and Common Hill Myna. Today I was able to add a pair of Blue and Yellow Macaws, a new bird for me, plus a single Scaly-headed Parrot and a flock of Red-masked Parakeets.



A Blue and Yellow Macaw



Scaly-headed Parrot

 After leaving the campus it was time to check-in at the hotel in Florida City, were after supper there was still time to make a run over to Aerojet Road, outside of Everglades National Park before dark.  Started with White-winged Dove and Common Mynas in town.  But near to the Park I encountered a flock of Peafowl.  Didn't expect that. As it was nearing dusk a number on Common Nighthawks were busy overhead and as I arrived outside at the Aerojet Road entrance to the Southern Glades Trail was  met by at least ten Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a Gray Kingbird and a pair of Western Kingbirds, one of which I suspected was a Tropical Kingbird
Common Myna

A Peahen crossing the road
Western  Kingbird

Best bird seen today was the Barn Owl I spotted flying across the field where the Kingbirds were found. Another noticeable observation that so many of today's sightings were exotic birds. This area hosts a great many exotic plants, reptiles, fishes and bird life. The now infamous Python invasion is another example of a very negative  impact on the environment and Aerojet Road is a location that Python Hunters use locating and collecting these snakes







Monday, April 3, 2017

Life on the Ponds

 Monday April 3rd




A meeting of the minds


Tri-colored Heron dancing for its supper at Six Mile Cypress Preserve


Roseate Spoonbill at Six Mile Cypress Preserve



Black-necked Stilt at Ollie's Pond in Port Charlotte

Wood Stork at Ollie's Pond

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Ollie's Pond

Least Sandpiper at Ollie's Pond

Lesser Yellowlegs at Ollie's Pond