Friday, March 29, 2019

Calooshachee Creeks - Flora and Fauna

Thursday March 29th


Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to Caloosahatchee Creeks to look for any early migrating birds. Found it wasn't very birdy at all. Only had a single Palm Warbler and just one Gray Catbird and not a whole lot more. Did get to see one of the resident Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Eastern Pondhawk

So I turned to other points of interest - Butterflies, Dragonflies, Wildflowers and such. Lots of Cuban Brown Anoles, and a sampling of Eastern Pondhawks and  Black Swallow-tailed, Florida White and Gulf Fritillary Butterflies   The best sighting for me on this walk was seeing flowering Jack-in-the-Pulpits.  With all my tramping about the woods over the years, I hadn't encountered this plant before.

Spent time looking at the wildflowers and getting some pics. Then trying to get proper ID.  Some of the plant life I was already familiar with like Sneezeweed, Spanish Needles, Wild Coffee and such.  But there is always something new to learn about

Marsh Fleabane
Starrush Whitetop
St Johns-wort
The Fetter Bush is coming into bloom on the Fetter Bush Trail
The Fetter Bush is coming into bloom on the Fetter Bush Trail
Lizard Tail
St Johns-wort

American Blueheart

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wings Over the Water at Harns Marsh

Wednesday March 13th

Sandhill Crane family looking to cross the canal

Next Saturday marks the eighth annul Wings Over Water Festival at Harns Marsh. Tours, Speakers exhibits and more.

Harns Marsh is a special place here in Lee County for birders, nature lovers, walkers, fisherman and more.  I first came out here many years ago after reading an article in the Fort Myers News-Press about the Kites found at the Harns.  Both the Snail and Swallow-tailed Kites.  Been hooked very since. So far I've recorded at least 129 species of birds and am know recording or flora and fauna as well.

'Someday day you'll get this big'

'Looks like its too deep to wade, so lets enjoy a swim'
Mom, or maybe its Dad, swimming with their colt.

Our Sandhill Crane colt made it across the canal
Florida Tasselflower is a common plant

Halloween Pendent Dragonfly

A young Red-shouldered Hawk

Prairie Fleabane

More Wildflowers seen today at Harns Marsh

Large flower Rosegentian

Pine Hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii)

Blue-eyed Grass spp


Black-eyed Susan

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Few Pics

Friday, March 1st

Did a little local birding the past couple of days

A somewhat downy and sleepy 
Great Horned Owlet
Seems that springtime is carrying on.  Many nesting birds.  Observed a Snail Kite, yesterday, carrying nesting materials, while some birds like Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owl babies will be fledging soon.

Wildflowers are blooming and butterflies and dragonflies are evident as they flutter and zoom about on these warming days.

Pearl Crescent Butterfly
Appears to be a Krider's Red-tailed Hawk seen along Blumberg Road in Hendry County
Brown Cuban Anole
An invasive and dominate species
replacing the native green anole
Another Brown Cuban Anole.  My first inclination was to identify it as another invasive lizard, the Brown Basilisk, because of the crests, which I learned are called a roach.
 I don't recall seeing a specimen displaying such a large roach
Prairie Warbler. 
Warblers have been a very difficult birds to photo as they don't tend to pose. 

House Sparrow. A while ago we called them English Sparrows. Not sure why the name change.  
They brought over here from England

Monk Parakeets can be found at the baseball fields on Pelican Boulevard in Cape Coral

Palm Warbler. Some are starting to show more of their breeding colors
 as spring migration approaches

Friday, March 1, 2019

Vagrants in the Neighbourhood

Monday, February 11th

We had a few interesting birds visit here lately with a pair of Mega Rarities in South Florida. Both made very short stops before moving on. Locally, the Great White Pelican, probably having arrived somehow from Western Africa, made its third brief visit to Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island. Her last stop here was so very brief.  Maybe just a few hours, before flying off, to who knows where.  

Great White Pelican seen February 29, 2016 at Ding Darling NWR

Great White Pelican seen February 29, 2016 
at Ding Darling NWR
Compare her to the American White Pelicans
 that she is associating with. 
  Note that the American White Pelican 
is the largest bird in North America

We first saw this mystery bird back in February of 2016. Lots of us got to see her then,  She returned briefly the following year, again in February. She wasn't reported last year.  No one really knows her provenience.  Is she an escapee or a true vagrant?  As no one as ever reported the loss of such a bird, and as it lacks any leg bandings, it is more probably a vagrant that somehow traversed the Atlantic Ocean. One possibility it became a stowaway after following a fishing trawler traveling from the Eastern Atlantic toward our coast. And we have yet to find out where spends her time other than her appearances here. I read that researchers would find it helpful to report any banded ( need the band info) American White Pelican that it has associated with.

Another Mega Rarity to North America is a brief appearance In Palm Beach County of a Dark-billed Cuckoo.  A South American bird species with only a single reported visit to Texas in. This current encounter was first reported on the 6th and last seen on the 10th. An huge crows of Birding enthusiast had gather by the 9th and 10th. No doubt some flying in for this usual find.

Checklist with phots of the Dark-billed Cuckoo provided by Hugh Whelan     .

These birds can be considered  Vagrants  due to the being so outside of their home range.

Another Mega Rarity seen for a couple weeks in Evergreen Cemetery, Ft Lauderdale
in October 2015
Back in December 2008
Back in December 2008 I was one of several people stacking out the bird feeders at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's Bunting House, waiting on s White-throated Sparrow to pop out. Not a great rarity, but diffidently out-side of its expected range and a potential lifer for me.  Well I was in a conversation with a British birder who asked me if I Twitched. Twitched? What's that? Its a British  birding terminology meaning to chase after rare vagrant birds.
A Pair of a Brants were visiting vagrants at 
Bunche Beach
December 2016 through January 2017
The following month, the chase was on. I had the bug.  Chased after the Ruff at Myakka River State Park, a Masked Duck near lake City, a Harris's Sparrow on the LA Chua Trail and the nesting Least Grebes in Boca Raton

Today, I've slowed down a bit. But there is a quartet of vagrants from the Caribbean drawing a lot of birders twitching after a La Sagra's  Flycatcher, Thick-billed Vireo, Western Spinalis, and a Bananaquit in Miami.