Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Tuesday February 28th

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Yesterday I got too late of a start to beat the terrible traffic on Ft Myers Beach.  So today, I was able to leave home on a more timely basis and was on Ft Myers Beach by 8 am.  My first stop was at Bowditch Point Park, located at the northern tip of the island. Found the location wanting of my target birds - black-backed gulls, oystercatchers or even a possible bonaparte's gull.
Osprey at Bowditch Point

So moved onto Carlos Point at the southern end of the island. Here I quickly spotted a few Snowy and Wilson's Plovers. Eventually I saw a young Lesser Black-backed Gull, which was joined by an adult. Nice.

American Oystercatcher

Lesser Black-backed Gull
A juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull

Palm Warbler at Carlos Point

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Visit to Lakes Regional Park

Monday February 27th

Got a late start today to do a little birding. Tried to venture onto Ft Myers Beach in search of any Black-backed Gulls. Hadn't seen any yet in the new year. But the large numbers of folks visiting from up North, here to enjoy our weather, it was impossible. Turned around and re-crossed the Matanzas Bridge were I noticed that the shrimping fleet was in. From here I ended up in Lakes Park.

Lakes Regional Park is a very nice park operated by Lee County with a wide variety activities available.  Besides birding opportunities,  we find picnic shelters, lodge ( friends of ours held their wedding reception here), gardens. an amphitheater, trails for walkers and cyclists, (and birders), fishing, a water park, swimming beach, volleyball courts, cycle and kayak rentals,  miniature train rides and museum, a summer camp, a weekly farmers market and scheduled events.

The Railroad Museum maintains this 1909 Steam Engine

Our family enjoyed this park from the time we first moved to Lee County in 1987. Prior to the devastation created here by Hurricane Charlie in 2004, the park was well shaded by towering Australian Pines. The redevelopment included the removal of much of the surviving  Australian Pines, as they are considered to be a noxious invasive plant. Native trees and shrubs have been planted and are now starting to show some maturity.

Anhinga with the catch of the day
As for the birds, at least ten species of  birds used the spoil islands as rookeries. White Ibis, anhingas, cormorants, cattle egrets, tricolored and more species will nest on the islands.  Ospreys nest throughout the park and many more species can be found.  About eight years ago my daughters and I spotted the Scarlet Ibis that was once roosting here.

Lee County Bird Patrol ( I am also a volunteer) leads monthly guided tours.
Common Gallinules

Great Blue Heron

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Great White Pelican

Thursday February 2nd
Great White Pelican seen at Ding Darling in 2016

So cool to see that last years mysterious appearance of a Great White Pelican at Ding Darling NWR made a brief return this week. Those folks who arrived yesterday morning had an opportunity to experience her. But she did fly off around 11 am and did not return to the disappointment of the large crowd of motivated birders staking out the site today. 

But where has she been for the past year? No one reported any sightings, other than her appearances at Ding Darling.   The swelling of the skin around the the eyes is only seasonal, which means that the lack of this tell allows for the bird to more easily blend in with the American Great Pelicans.

And how did this specimen come to be here? Past investigations did not find any reports of an escapee.  Did it fly here? I doubt it.  Its a long way from its home range in Africa and Eurasia.  My theory is that it, like so many other exotic flora and fauna, arrived as a stow-away aboard some freighter or oil tanker.   

Compare the Great White Pelican to the American White Pelicans

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Harns Marsh

Wednesday February 1st

River Otter with its lunch

Headed over to Harns Marsh in Lehigh Acres for my monthly Lee County Bird Patrol survey for this venue and was rewarded with a fine day.  Spotted a nice male Snail Kite along Sunshine Parkway, near to arriving at Harns. They have become a bit scarce here lately.

At Harms, I started with a flock of American Robins accompanied by Red-belled Woodpecker, Gray Catbird, Mourning Doves, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. An aggressive pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks appeared to be driving off a young RSH at the vulture roost.

Gray-headed Swamphens were active along the walk with a couple of Purple Gallinules as well. While observing a River Otter munching on a sunfish, one off the purple gallinules came out to investigate what the otter was up too and quickly ran back to cover. Also present today were a large number of Common Gallinules, Pie-billed Grebes, American Coots, Grackles and Limpkins. Not very many Red-winged Blackbirds today.

River Otter
Due to lowering water levels the number of waders is increasing with Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Little Blue Herons, White Ibis and Glossy Ibis. The numbers of Blue-winged Teal seemed to also be increasing along with about sixty Ring-billed Ducks and a hand full of Mottled Ducks. Missed om any black-bellied whistling ducks, but was able to finally sight the lone male Ruddy Duck others have been reporting.

American Robin

Gray-headed Swamphen

Blue-winged Teal

Purple Gallinule

Ruddy Duck