Thursday, January 31, 2019

Painted Buntings

Wednesday January 30th

Several Painted Buntings seen at the feeders toady Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
The staff at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary confirmand that resent rains have elevated the standing water and that birding numbers were down today.  I was still pleased with my visit were there were still lots of birds.

Had great views of Painted Buntings, starting with the feeders at Blair House. Along with the bunting were several female Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinal and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Close by at the start of the boardwalk were a pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches, Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Eastern Phoebe, an Indigo Bunting and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Such a nice start.

Down the boardwalk was the Bunting House were several Painted Bunting and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird were active at the feeders.  Plus Northern Cardinal, Mourning Doves and calling Gray Catbirds.

Entering the cypress swamp, it became less birdy. Not much to be seen till the Lettuce Lake were a nice mixed flock was busy feeding. Mostly Gnatcatchers and Pine Warblers. Mixed we say Black-and-White Warbler, more Yellow-rumps, Blue-headed Vireo, Tufted Titmice, a White-eyed Vireo, Downy Woodpecker, Black-throated Green Warbler 

Northern Cardinal

I was disappointed as I  dipped on several expected species.  The Purple Gallinule continued to be a nemesis bird for me lately. Also missed were the wild turkeys, great created flycatchers and the ovenbirds. Just bad timing. Still a very good day

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Pine Warbler

Yellow-crowned Night-heron

A family of River Otters were seen and enjoyed by many of the visitors today.  I missed them, but did get to see raccoon, an armadillo in the parking lot , a white-tailed doe just out-side the entrance and sunning Florida Banded Water Snake 

Armadillo seen foraging in the parking lot

Florida Banded Water Snake
Blooming Swamp Lily

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Celery fields

Friday January 25th

Hooded Merganser 

Bronzed Cowbird
The Celery Fields, a mult-purpose  Sarasota County managed property,  is a popular location for birders. The Sarasota Audubon Society is doing a great job in their support with their Purple Martin houses, bird feeders, butterfly garden, volunteer naturalists and more.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird is a rare bird here in Florida. It's a tropical species, which has been expanding its range, out of Mexico and into the U.S Southwestern stats and has arrived in Florida   Its numbers remain small compared the native Brown-headed Cowbird, buts seems a bit more numerous than another invasive cowbird species, the Shiny Cowbird

Male Brown-headed Cowbird
Arrived before dawn, I stacked out the barn owl spot on Center Road. No owls. Did hear killdeers and Gray Catbirds. Plus the occasional roar from the cats at the nearby Big Cat Sanctuary.
Male Brown-headed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird at the feeders
Moved onto the Raymond Road Boardwalk. It can be a good location for Bittern, Soras, Purple Gallinules, Marsh Wrens and other rails. Plus wading birds and water fowl.
But I had to be satisfied with just a calling Sora, Northern Harrier and Blue-winged Teal. A flock of Ring-necked Ducks did pass over headed.

Red-winged Blackbirds

Nanday Parakeet at the feeders
Over at the Nature Center on Palmer Road, there was a lot activity at the feeders and Purple Martin Houses

The Purple Martins are now returning from their winter vacations.  And the feeders are busy with a large number of Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, Boat-tailed Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds and the more exotic Nanday Parakeets and Bronzed Cowbirds
Eastern Bluebird seen visiting the Nature Center - Butterfly Garden

Purple Martins

Purple Martins
Next went looking for the Ash-throated Flycatcher and Greater Scaups on the property west of the Hill.  Didn't find the flycatcher today, but the pair of Greater Scaups were seen in the company of a few Lesser Scaups and Pied-billed Grebes on the central lake. Was interesting that no Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are being seen here lately. They can still be seen, nearby, on the property of the Critter Ridge Landscapers at the corner of Fruitville and Tatum Roads.

Northern Shoveler have been 
locally uncommon this winter

Lastly, I was to check-out the berm that edges the western boundary of the property. Lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Palm Warblers, Plus a few Blue-winged Teal, Common Gallinules, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills and a lone Northern Shoveler and Hooded Merganser
Was a good visit today.  Got fifty-seven species and some nice pics.  Dipped on some of the expected and rarer species.  But that just creates an excuse to come on back

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Harns Marsh Preserve

Saturday, January 19th

Gray-headed Swamphens have become quite common.

Savannah Sparrow
Made several trips out to Harns Marsh this month. Thought I would comment on what is happening at the Marsh lately and share some pics.

There aren't really a lot of wading birds on hand lately.  A nice sampling.  the same with the wintering water fowl.  A few Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers. The resident Mottled Ducks are not really that numerous as well.  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have disappeared from the area all together.  Wood Ducks are occasionally seen.

Limpkins, Common Gallinule, American Coots, Sandhill Cranes, Anhingas, Pied-billed Grebes and Double-crested Cormorants are expected

Tri-colored Heron

A Little Blue Heron

Loggerhead Shrike
Gray-headed Swamphens are easy to find and American Bitterns can be seen. Much harder sightings would be the Least Bitterns, Sora, King Rail and Purple Gallinules. Need to be on site at day break for a chance to hear or maybe even spot one. I've dipped on these  species this month so far. 

Still looking for any Wild Turkeys, Swamp Sparrows or a Grasshopper Sparrow.

A female Common Yellowthroat

Snail kites were a for-sure sighting here once, but not anymore. Seems Harns Marsh isn't suiting them lately. Quite probably,  what is happening here is that changes have been to how the water is held  for storm water control. These changes may have effected the snail kites ability to successfully hunt the apple snails that make up most of their diet. There is diffidently a lack of empty, apple snail shells, once commonly seen here, that are discarded by the feeding kites and Limpkins leave behind. Perhaps the snail population has crashed?

Ring-necked Duck

Pied-billed Grebe

Harns Marsh Preserve eBird Hotspot reports

Palm Warbler
Raptor numbers are over-whelming lead by the large concentration of roosting Black and Turkey Vultures.  Bald Eagles, wintering Northern Harriers, resident Red-shouldered Hawks, the occasional Snail Kite, and soaring Red-tailed and Short-tailed Hawks. American Kestrels, in the winter, are seen.  Sometimes a Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sharp-shinned hawk or Coopers will make an appearance

A Whirly Bird
The nearby Buckingham Airfield hosts Lee County Mosquito Control
 and other local agencies
This corner of Lee County was once a part of the Buckingham Army Airfield,
 a training base during WW2

A male Anhinga

Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Wilson's Snipe

Hooded Merganser

Glossy Ibis
Sandhill Crane

Purple Gallinules have become hard to find lately. 
 My last observation was back in October

Least Sandpiper

Monday, January 14, 2019

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Sunday January 13th

Boat-tailed Grackles were active at this watering spot
Had to make three attempts to locate the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Its a western bird and not very commonly seem in Florida and to have a brightly colored male hanging out thirty miles from home, I had to see it.

Last week Eary Warren with wife Jennifer and Dave & Tammy McQuade had discovered the yellow-headed blackbird in the parking lot of the Win Dixie store at corner of US 17 and Bermont Road in Charlotte County.  Eary, Jennifer, Dave and Tammy have been racking up a long list birds, as the awesome birders that they are, to start the new year and it is no surprise that Eary was going to spot this guy.

Great Egret

Arrived to day about 2:30 pm and note that the parking lot lacked any grackles.  The yellow-head has been hanging with a local flock of boat-tailed grackles.  drove behind the stores to the retention pond, where wood storks, white ibis, laughing gulls, Ring-billed Gulls and the 

The Yellow-headed Blackbird was initially very hard to find. 
As it was well concealed in the shrubbery

grackles were found. Ran into Monica Higgins who was already monitoring the grackles for our target bird. Made a quick recheck in the parking lot.  Still empty.  returned to the pond an was informed that the flock had been spooked by an eagle and the yellow-headed blackbird

was easily seen and photographed. Big oops on my part, as I ended up waiting for well past an hour for the target to reappear.  The grackles were still active, so the blackbird was still expected to be at hand.  Was joined in the wait by Margi Haas and several ladies from Sarasota.

Eventually the bird was seen deep in the foliage, preening and being very inconspicuous. Patience paid off and the Yellow-headed Blackbird finally came out into the open.  Got my pics.  Yeah..

Early Florida settlers called these birds Old Flintheads 
and found them not to be very appetizing for the pot
Wood Stork