Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Down on the Beach

 Wednesday, February 24th

Just a few birds recently seen down by the beach

Reddish Egret at Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel Island

Common Loan at Lovers Key State Park

Snowy Plover at Fort Myers Beach

Wilson's Plover on East Beach at Fort Desoto Park

Least Sandpiper on East Beach at Fort Desoto Park

Whimbrel at Fort Desoto Park

Laughing Gulls at Fort Desoto

Redheads ducks on East Beach at Fort Desoto Park

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

 Sunday February 21st

Neotropic Cormorant

For several years now, the only reliable venue to look for Neotropic Cormorants is at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach in Palm Beach County. The bird is nested here and has young in the nest.

This venue is owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Utilities as a water reclamation project for the processing of treated waste water. The marsh they created acts a natural filter as these waters are returned to the environment. It is also open to the public to enjoy the great array of Florida wetland wildlife attracted to the marsh. Gators, turtles and green iguanas are common and the huge numbers of wading birds are on present and nesting within feet of curious visitors.

Believe this is an offspring of the Neotropic and a Double crested Cormorant

Nesting Wood Stork

Nesting Wood Stork

Nesting Wood Stork

Double-crested Cormorant on the nest

Male Anhinga sporting his breeding plumage

Male Anhinga sporting his breeding plumage

Female Anhinga

Green Iguana

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Gray-headed Swamphen

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Purple Gallinule

Glossy Ibis

Sailfin Mollies are a food source for many species here

Purple Martins have arrived

Great Blue Herons on a nest

Bob Pelkey

 Sunday February 7th

Robert M Pelkey

(5/16/1964 to 2/5/2021)

We recently lost our Friend Bob Pelkey.  

Bob had retired a few years ago as a manager with Publix grocery stores.  His retirement brought him back to his home state of Connecticut after living and working for many years in Fort Myers, Florida.

Bob was a noted wildlife photographer and enjoyed venturing out to get that great shot. He was unafraid to to wade out into the surf or a swamp to get that shot. 

I would introduce him as an Award-winning Photographer because he created some great photography.  He also had developed relationships with other noted wildlife photographers including Hemat Kishan of Michigan, Robert Doiron of New Brunswick, Frank Constantin of Quebec and Bob Blanchard of Florida. He was extremely thrilled the day he was invited to join a photography class lead by world famous wildlife photographer Artie Morris. 

Please enjoy his photographs posted on his Blog  - SWFloridabirder

Just a few of his recent photographs from Connecticut

Friday, January 29, 2021

Chasing Birds - Panhandle & Gainesville Days 3 and 4

Monday January 18th

Had some great leads for birding the next two, but just couldn't fit everything in. Today was time spent around Tallahassee. Visited Lake Jackson Mounds State Park and Torreya State Park. I would have usually included Florida Caverns State Park as well, but most of the property is still closed because of the damage from Hurricane Michael more than than two years. Michael was a devastating storm.

White-crowned Sparrow at Lake Jackson

I am not just interested in birds, but all genres in our natural world.  The Red Hills region around Tallahassee has a unique ecological environment for Florida. as the state is known for its more tropical climes. The Red Hills zone is composed of  plant communities more common to the southern Appalachian Mountains then in southern Florida. 

Orange-crowned Warbler

First stop was at the Crowder Road Land on Lake Jackson just outside of the state park. Last year at this time the lake was loaded with buffleheads and ruddy ducks. But today just coots and moorhens. Lots of American Goldfinches in the trees plus American Robins, a Cedar Waxwing, Carolina Chickadee and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Lots of Chipping Sparrows and a least one White-crowned Sparrow too.

Coralberry at Lake Jackson Mounds State Park

Birding at Lake Jackson Mounds State Park was slow. Was greeted by a pair of White-tailed Deer at the parking lot, spent my time birding and looking for interesting flora. Some of the birds today included Bald Eagle, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Wren , Carolina Chickadee, Pileated Woodpecker, American Goldfinch and Pine Warblers. Lots of interesting flora - various oaks, hickories, beech trees, southern magnolias, hollies, Carolina laurelcherry and coralberry,

Underwood's Trillium seen at both state parks today

Apalachicola River

Moved onto
 Torreya State State Park. This park, located along the bluffs of the Apalachicola River, is very interesting in its unique geology, rare flora and civil war history. Again the birding was very slow, but the flora was interesting the rare Florida Torreya Tree, more oaks and beech trees, southern magnolias, American sycamore, sweetgums, American Hollycommon hoptree, tulip tree, oakleaf hydrangea and needle palm.
Florida Torreya Tree

American Holly

Slender Yellow Woodsorrel

Needle Palm

Tuesday January 19th

Finally stop on this trip was back to Gainesville and Paynes Prairie State Park. Florida has a few Whooping Cranes left from the experimental reintroduction of a non-migratory flock. Looks like a site in Mississippi has been more successful.

But currently, a lone whooper can be observed at the end of the Bolen's Bluff Trail at Paynes Prairie State Park. Walked the mile plus to the end.  Spent about a half hour at the observation tower looking for the bird. eventually located it a long way off to the east near the resting bison..  Paynes Prairie has a herd of bison roaming the prairie, all cows.  The bulls were relocated to a farm for everyone's safety. A herd of Spanish horses also roam the park.
Other birds included Sandhill Cranes, a large number of Snail Kites, American White Pelicans, Red-shouldered Hawks, Tufted Titmice and Carolina Wrens

American Sweetgum

Dwarf Saw Palmetto

Species Seen

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Canada Goose, Muscovy Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, American Black Duck, Mottled Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Clapper Rail, Sora, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Whooping Crane, American Avocet, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bonaparte's Gull, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Common Loon, Wood Stork, Anhinga, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite. Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Merlin, Nanday Parakeet, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Wren, Carolina Wren, European Starling, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Black-and-white Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Chasing Birds - St Marks Day Two

 Monday January 26th

Sora at the Headquarters Pond

Spent the bulk
of Day Two, on this trip, at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  Like Lake Apopka and Merritt Island, we get a lot of wintering birdlife at St Marks in January. Especially waterfowl and song birds. St Marks is diffidently a birding hot spot.

For some of these species, the Panhandle usually marks the southern limits  of there wintering range. Such as Red-throated Loon or horned Larks. Some of most recently seen birds of interest included an Iceland Gull, American Flamingo, White-faced Ibis, Snow Goose, Red-throated Loon and Henslow Sparrow.  But I didn't see any of these on this visit.  But I did explore the Pine Flats, Marshes, Ponds and shoreline down on the Gulf of Mexico. 

Lots waterfowl - Blue-wing & Green-wing Teal, Gadwall, Greater & Lesser Scaup, American Wigeons, Northern Pintail, Canvasbacks, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Mallard, American Black Duck, Hooded Mergansers and Common Goldeneye. 


American Wigeon at the Lighthouse Pond

The various ponds also hosted American Avocets, Bonaparte's Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, Dunlins, American Coots and Common Gallinules

Redhead at the Lighthouse Pond

Redhead at the Lighthouse Pond

The Wildlife Drive terminates at the St Marks Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Ponds and the Gulf of Mexico. Arrived during a low tide, calm seas and having almost no sea birds present. Dipped on the Iceland Gull being reported as well as common or red-throated loons, horned grebes, oystercatchers and only a couple of Buffleheads were present. One good sighting here was a distant look at a Common Goldeneye, plus a few Brown Pelicans, Willets and Royal Terns. The Lighthouse Ponds were loaded with waterfowl and few waders.

Canvasback at the Lighthouse Pond

The marshes shared Red-winded Blackbirds, Sora, Yellow-crowned Night-herons, Swamp, Savanah & Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals and a Clapper Rail. 

Also had a River Otter cross the wildlife drive in front of me

In the pines, oaks and their understory, American Robins were very numerous. Other sightings included Cedar Waxwing, Carolina Chickadees, Catbirds, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Towhee, Pine Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and American Goldfinch.

Sora at the Headquarters Pond

A distant look at a Bonaparte's Gull

My St Marks Life List

Common Violet blooming near the helipad area

Spent time not just birding but trying to catalogue all of the various forms of life present. Will have to return to Panhandle in the springtime when wildflowers are in bloom. For today some of the interesting flora I observed today included Cabbage Palms, Saw Palmetto, Sand Live Oak, Water Oak, Laurel Oak, Myrtle Oak, Red Maple, Swamp Titi, Pondcypress, Carolina Luarelcherry, Yellow Butterwort, Gallberry, Shiny Blueberry, Sparkleberry, Fetterbush, American Royal Fern and Common Yucca