Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gunnery Trail - Wild Turkey Strand

Sunday, November 18th

Wild Turkey Strand is a 3100 acre preserve that meanders from State Route 82 South to Alico Road in Lee County.  This preserve is important as an aquifer recharge area for our local water supply  needs and as wildlife corridor.

Signage at Gunnery Trail 

This preserve sets on what once  the World War 2 era, Buckingham Army Air Traing Base. Here, thousands  of airmen attended the Gunnery School in preparation for their assignments as gunners in American bombers.

Now this bit of property has reverted back to a more natural Florida.. Some remnants from the Buckingham Army Base can still be seen and the County has developed the Gunnery Trail to provide access to these sites  as well as for hikers and birders to enjoy the property.

The Gunnery trail is 1.8 miles long with 1.1 miles are developed and the remainder would be called primitive and can be quite wet as it is a seasonal wetland.

Access to the Gunnery Trail leads away from the parking area located at Rod &  Gun Road near to State Route 82 South of Lehigh Acres.
House Wrens are common winter visitors

Red shouldered Hawks are common here
Currently the wetlands and ponds here are  drying down. But for now, wading birds and waterfowl are commonly seen.  As are Purple Gallinules and Snail Kites have nested here. Currently observations of Mottled, Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and other waterfowl have been seen. However when the wetlands have dried up these birds will have left the area.

We know that endangered Florida Panthers are present at times in this preserve. I know of observations in the Gunnery Trail area and I have personnel observations from a sight near to the airport.  Coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed deer and wild hogs can be found

Everglades Canna

Yellow rumped Warblers are also a common winter visitor

Friday, November 2, 2018


Friday, November 2nd

American Avocets at Bunche Beach

Cooler weather has arrived and the Snowbirds are arriving as well to beautiful Southwest Florida. Both the avian and human snowbirds. 

Pine Warbler

October can be a very fun time here for birders. We have the migration of  neo-tropic birds passing through from points to the North heading to points far to the South, But we do see some familiar migrating birds who'll stay with us for most of the Winter. So we have the best of the waning summer species, the migrants passing through and the incoming wintering bird populations. A good time of year

It is enjoyable to chase after these migrating birds who may only be stopping off for a day or two. Some are fairly common to find like the Summer Tanagers and Yellow-throated Vireos. Some are far more uncommon to find in Florida in the fall migration like Canada Warblers and Golden-winged Warblers.  I was lucky to find a Golden-winged Warbler this year, but the Canada Warbler was an evasive  sighting for me though.. I did have a few holes in my list this year like the Gray-cheeked Thrush and Kentucky and Blue winged Warblers.  I've dipped on the Blue winged Warbler for a few years now.

A Golden winged Warbler
 seen at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve
Some of birds we have seen passing through included Acadian Flycatchers, Least Flycatcher plus Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Ovenbirds, Tennessee, Hooded and other Warblers. Rose breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Wood-pewees, Swainson's Thrushes, Bobolinks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Pectoral Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers and more. 

Our wintering arrivals will continue making there here in the coming weeks, But recently we have seen many Gray Catbirds, House Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, Wilson's Snipes, American Bitterns, Northern Harries, Belted Kingfishers, American Kestrels, American White Pelicans, Yellowlegs, Peregrine Falcons, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers,  Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows. 

American Red Starts were a common migrant this fall, but a hard bird to photograph

Yellow throated Warblers have become numerous
Still expecting the later arriving waterfowl. Blue wing Teal are early arrivals and I did see my first of the season Ring neck Ducks today. Other species of ducks will arrive soon, plus Common Loons and Horned Grebes. Can also add Painted buntings, Red-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Swamp and Grasshopper Sparrows and more.

It appears that it may be harder to find Painted and Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches this season as the famous feeders we have all enjoyed at the Whites' residence in Alva are probably no more. As their property has been sold. 

Great Crested Flycatcher

Gray Catbird
Our wintering Shorebirds have already arrived from their breeding grounds. Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets, Marbled Godwits, Red Knots, Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Piping Plovers, Spotted Sandpipers, American Avocets. Plus the wintering gulls should be arriving in about a month. So enjoy the cooler weather and all these birds.
Red Knot. This fellow has lost its left foot.
Saw this scruffy Lark Sparrow out on Church Road

American White Pelican are returning

Bald Eagles are returning too

As are Double crested Cormorants