Monday, July 31, 2017

The Ag Fields

Monday July 31st

Gull-billed Tern
Today, Tropical Storm Emily has formed in the Gulf and is dumping rain on us. But yesterday I drove out to the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Belle Glade in Palm Beach County. The Ag Fields is an area south of Lake Okeechobee known for growing sugar cane, rice and sod farms. In late Fall the Ag Fields hosts migrating shore birds, terns, swallows and grass peeps.

The purposeful flooding of finished cane fields to kill off the nematodes that damage the sugar cane,  can be a mecca for these migrating birds. It is early yet to make these trips to the area, but there were birds to be seen.  Not a lot of birds yet though. Give it a couple of weeks.
Pectoral Sandpiper

What was found, at the only flooded fields encountered, at the junction of Rt 880 and Browns Farm Road, were several family groups of Black-necked Stilts, several Gull-billed Terns, Least Terns, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitchers (not sure if they were short-billed or long-billed), Pectoral, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, Killdeer and a few Laughing Gulls. It shouldn't be long till numbers  and variety increase. Will be looking for Black Terns, White Pelicans, Wilson's Phalaropes, Stilt Sandpipers and Avocets and tons of waders.
Gull-billed Tern

The sod fields were devoid of activity.  The Upland Sandpipers have been here this early in the past, but they'll probably show by mid-August.

Other interesting sightings on the day included numbers of Barn Swallows with a few Cliff and Bank Swallows, Purple Martins, a lone Tree Swallow, Bobwhites, Meadowlarks, Common Nighthawks and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Best sighting of the day was a Barn Owl flying along Boles Canal, and the most interesting sighting was spotting a pair of Common Mynas at the parking lot at the BK restaurant in Belle Glade.

Hopeful, Ill be able to return in two or three weeks.

Barn Swallow

Spotted Sandpiper

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt Chick

Northern Bobwhite

A very young Red-tailed Hawk

A young Red-shouldered Hawk

Least Tern

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tropical Kingbird

Sunday July 23rd

Tropical Kingbird in Sarasota
Today I ran up to Sarasota to look for the breeding Tropical Kingbird. As in past years it was located behind the shops at St Armands Circle.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
are becoming quite common

But my first stop of the day was at the Celery Fields off of Fruitville Road in Sarasota.  Arrived at dawn.  Found the expected species including Barn Swallows, Purple Gallinules, Black-belled Whistling-Ducks, Purple Martins, Nanday Parakeets and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Then onto St Armands Circle. Started out with large flock of foraging Fish Crows. Gray Kingbirds were calling and after some searching I did locate the Tropical Kingbird.  Other sightings included Chimney Swifts, Eurasian-collared Doves and House Finch.

Tropical Kingbird

Gray Kingbird

House Finch

Went onto check the beach (access #5) on Siesta Key, but not much to really see there. So I added an extra stop to head north to Anna Maria Island to look for any Blue-Crowned Parakeets.  Which I did find. A small flock was observed in the parking lot of the Manatee County Beach Park.

Blue-crowned Parakeet

Least Sandpiper

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

So Quiet

Monday July 10th

Fish Crow seen at Bowditch Point Park
It'll be a few weeks yet till the birding picks up around here. There are a few interesting birds to chase around the state like in Ft Lauderdale (Tropical Mockingbird), Sarasota (Tropical Kingbirds), Clewiston ( Shiny Cowbird) or Lake Apopka (Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Mississippi Kites, Bronze Cowbird). 

But for now we'll have to wait till the end of the month for the early arrives.

Snowy Plover seen at Bowditch Point
Currently the Least Tern and Black Skimmers colonies on Ft Myers Beach are continuing their nesting. Earlier today I had ran into Meg Rausher, who is employed to monitor these colonies. Meg shared that the breeding colonies of Least Terns, Black Skimmers, Snowy Plovers and Wilson's Plovers took a hit last month from the heavy rains and flooding surfs. Eggs and hatchlings were lost. Some of the Least Terns gave up and left the site, many others are re-nesting. Lets hope for the best.

According to the Turtle Time web site, no sea turtle nest were lost.

Least Tern seen at Carlos Point

Nanday Parakeet seen in Ft Myers

Marbled Godwit seen at Bunche Beach Preserve

Burrowing Owl seen at the ball fields at Cape Coral

A small gator seen at
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve