Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Six-mile Cypress Slough Owls

Saturday, March 30th

Six-mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a very popular place for folks to enjoy the  atmosphere of a Florida cypress swamp. This time of year, thousands of vacationing  families have joined our seasonal residents to be a part of Spring Training.  Both the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox train here and so many folks travel south to enjoy the games. Its common to see families on Six-mile's boardwalk, dressed in their teams regalia as they spend time looking for alligators and egrets before game time. So the parking lot fills fast and the boardwalk can get crowded. So its best to arrive early.

Barred Owl taking a rest atop of a cypress knee

I did arrive early because I also wanted to see if a screech-owl could be seen or heard, in or about the owl box located in the parking lot.  Its being seen there lately, sticking its head out. But today I didn't spot it.  But much better was the Barred Owl. 

 Currently, as it happened last year, as section of the boardwalk, between Pop Ash Pond and Otter Pond are closed due to a pair of Barred Owls nesting just a feet off the boardwalk. 

One of barred owls responsible for the disruption made an appearance as it sat atop a cypress knee just a few away over at Pop Ash Pond. It remained at its post for quite awhile, till finally a red-shouldered hawk began harassing it.

A pair of wood ducks would also make appearance,  coming into roost nearby.   A dark-phased Short-tailed Hawk was also seen and heard calling nearby.

A pair of Great Blue Herons nesting at Wood Duck Pond
Great Egrets, Anhingas and Great Blue Herons are nesting.  A pair of Great Blue Herons are tending to nesting duties near the Wood Duck overlook. Great Egrets and Anhingas are nesting in a rookery on Gator Pond. 

A few warbler Were present in the parking lot. Not unusual to have some of your birding in .  Ruth Parks and A couple of her friends had found a mixed flock in the parking lot. Tufted Titmice, prairie warbler, blank and white warbler, a Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parulas, Downy Woodpeckers and a possible black-throated blue warbler. Meg Reiser reported hearing a worm-eating warbler near the cross-over.  

Am looking forward to spring migration to heat up.

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     .https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52548955

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. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Looking For Flycatchers

Friday February 22nd

A Young Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Elected to drive out to Hendry County this morning in pursuit of wintering flycatchers. Was looking for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds.  The known, more local, locations for finding these birds haven't been very fruitful this year.  But the spot near STA-5, SR-835 and Deer Fence  Canal Road in Hendry County, has been reliable.

So I routed a trip through Lehigh Acres, Felda, Immokalee, Deer Fence Canal Road, Clewiston, LaBelle and home. First stop was the Red-headed Woodpecker site at Wellington Ave, in Lehigh for Bobwhite (FOS), Red-headed Woodpecker and White-winged Dove. Then out to Church Road in Felda.

Western Kingbird

Savannah Sparrow
Just before reaching Church Road along SR-82, had to stop to check out the American White Pelicans sitting on the mud flats at a road side pond. Was more interested the flock of terns sitting out there with the pelicans. They all turned out to Royal Terns.  

Church Road, in Felda,  was very interesting today as Blue Grosbeaks, Mockingbirds, American Goldfinch, Cardinals, American Kestrels and Savannah Sparrows were sunning themselves atop the pepper bushes, along a side road.. No Crested Caracaras seen on this stretch of road, but the flycatcher pasture did host a young Scissor-tail Flycatcher and a lone Western Kingbird, along with a large flock of  Wild Turkeys. Surprised to find the flycatchers at this spot today, as this location had become less reliable this winter
Probably a Krider's Red-tailed Hawk
Probably a Krider's Red-tailed Hawk
From Felda, proceeded out toward the Deer Fence Canal area. On the drive over, several Crested Caracaras were seen along with Red-shouldered Hawks, American Kestrels, Belted Kingfishes, Sandhill Cranes, a Snail Kite, Limpkins and Eastern Meadowlarks.  

At the Flycatcher Site, I didn't spot any today. 

Now heading north, passing by cattle pastures, orange groves and sugar cane fields toward Clewiston, made a side trip down Blumberg Road. Blumberg Road is the access to the northern entrance of STA-5.  Had no plans to go that far, but this can usually, in winter, be a good location for raptors. So I did see patrolling Northern Harriers, more American Kestrels and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.  One of which is probably the Kriders race of the Eastern red-tailed Hawk subspecies. Will continue doing research on exactly what this is.  Don't see many of them in Florida. 

A young Herring Gull

One final stop for the day is at the Levee Park in Clewiston. Lots of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Laughing Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls and a young Herring Gull

Misses today included American Robins, neither of the whistling ducks, and any Swallow-tailed Kites.

Todays Bird List ( 60 ) - Mottled Duck, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, 

Blue Grosbeak
Common Ground Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane,  Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Royal Tern, Wood Stork,  Anhinga, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Brown pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite, Northern Harrier,  Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Crested Caracara, Eastern Phoebe, western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, American Goldfinch, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, eastern Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal and Blue Grosbeak.

Red-shouldered Hawk

White-winged Dove

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Western Kingbird