FLORIDA 2

I will be making updates to this page over the next two weeks. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday Nov 10th 2013. Unusual start to the trip.

We arrived at our condo at 2pm and unpacked. I walked to the end of our deck, overlooking the shore. I was amazed to see BLACK SCOTERS just off the beach by about ten feet. I have never officially had Black Scoter in Florida before. ( a flock half way between here and Grand Bahamas Island was never officially declared to country) I was very surprised. Last year, Florida experienced an invasion of Black Scoters like never before. Roberto Torres from Miami Bird Board has suggested that another invasion of equal proportions is taking place this year. It never occurred to me that I would experience it. As I watched these scoters, a flock of 71 Black Scoters flew in. I now had 73 Black Scoters. About 45 minutes later, another 25 Black Scoters joined the flock. That is 98 Black Scoters in total on the Gulf of Mexico! I’m not sure what all this means, but I don’t think it bodes well for the scoters. Needing to come this far south this early in the season doesn’t seem right to me. Food supply has got to be in question. That said, I had some nice birds in Bonita this afternoon. Common Ground Dove, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, White Ibis, Magnificent Frigate birds, Sandwich Terns and many more were seen. Stayed tuned for the next update.

Monday 11/11/13
This morning I birded Ft. Meyers Beach Lagoon and Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island. It was a nice morning with many species of shore birds seen. It was a great study in plovers with five species present at the lagoon. Black-bellied, Semipalmated, Wilson’s, Piping and SNOWY PLOVER were all seen. Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Western and Least Sandpipers, Willet and Ruddy Turnstone were all present. Waders included Tri-colored Heron, Reddish, Snowy and Great Egrets. Osprey and Bald Eagle were present. Belted Kingfisher, Northern Cardinal, Palm Warblers, Common Grackle and Northern Mockingbird were all seen. From there I went to Ding Darling NWR where I had many of the same birds. American White Pelican were abundant. A dozen Red Knots were the only new shore bird there. It was a nice morning.

A second winter Lesser Black-backed Gull on Ft. Meyers Beach.

A second winter Lesser Black-backed Gull on Ft. Meyers Beach.


My first of the year Snowy Plover.

My first of the year Snowy Plover.


One of a dozen Piping Plover on Ft. Meyers Beach.

One of a dozen Piping Plover on Ft. Meyers Beach.


Black Scoters numbered 370 by late this afternoon on Bonita Beach!

Black Scoters numbered 370 by late this afternoon on Bonita Beach!

11/12/13
This morning I headed over to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It was very birdy and I had a great time. The highlight was a male PAINTED BUNTING that was coming to the feeders off the boardwalk. Other birds of particular note included a decent showing of warblers. Yellow-rumped, Palm, Pine, Black and White, Yellow-throated and Blackburnian Warblers and a few Common Yellowthroats and Northern Parula made for a nice selection. Both Blue-headed and White-eyed Vireo were seen. Many Wood Storks were flying overhead and a pair of unseen Sandhill Cranes were bugling near by. Catbirds, Cardinals, Gnatcatchers, House and Carolina Wrens, Grackles, Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice and Mourning Doves were all seen. Red-shouldered Hawks, Black and Turkey Vultures were all kettling with many Anhingas. Another great show was put on by the Butterflies! Ruddy Daggerwings and Zebras were abundant. Queens and Palmedies Swallowtails were common. I haven’t seen so many butterflies in some time. One huge Alligator was sunning himself. Great morning.

Male Painted Bunting at Corkscrew Swamp

Male Painted Bunting at Corkscrew Swamp


Zebra Butterflies were everywhere

Zebra Butterflies were everywhere


I saw the most Ruddy Daggerwings I have ever seen at Corkscrew this morning.

I saw the most Ruddy Daggerwings I have ever seen at Corkscrew this morning.


Danny and Carol Messina seeing their life Magnificent Frigatebird

Danny and Carol Messina seeing their life Magnificent Frigatebird


11/13/13 Birding with Old Friends –
This morning I met Danny and Carol Messina for a birding trip to Eagle Lakes Park and Marco Island. Danny and Carol recently moved to Florida and it is the first time I’ve gotten to see them since the move. We had a good morning at Eagle Lakes Park, but it wasn’t as birdy as it was this past spring. We had many waders including Tri-colored, Little and Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-heron, Glossy and White Ibis, Limpkin, Anhinga and Double-crested Cormorant, American Coot and Common Gallinule. Yellow-rumped, Prairie and Palm Warblers, both Vultures, Ospey and many more. From there we headed over to Marco Island. I knew Danny had a life bird in mind and that we should be able to find it there. It took some riding around, but we finally spotted a woman who was looking at our target bird. We pulled over and Danny and Carol had super close looks at their life BURROWING OWL! From there we went to Tiger Tail Beach in hopes of shore birds. There was a very modest showing, with ten species and a few waders seen. As I scanned the sky, I noticed a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD. I mentioned it to Danny who was excited to hear it. It took a minute to get on the birds, but eventually two came pretty close to us giving them great looks at their second lifer of the day. Great morning!
Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird

Thursday 11/14:
This morning Danny, Carol and I headed to central Florida to the area my friends and I call “Caracara Loop”. As we traversed the cross roads, I missed a turn (my bad) that put us farther north than planned. Since we were there, we headed over to Stormwater Treatment Area 5. Though gates are closed, you can walk in and bird the impoundments. That is what we did. There were literally thousands of American Coot and Common Gallinule. Many species of ducks and waders were seen. The best find however were two PURPLE SWAMP HENS!! That was the third lifer of our trip for Danny and Carol! There were many Green Herons, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Western and Least Sandpipers, a Sora and Boat-tailed Grackles. At one point, a Bald Eagle flushed many of the birds, but one Purple Swamp Hen came back out for some more good views with the scope. Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, Mottle and Ring-necked Ducks were all seen. It was a great stop. During our travels today we saw at least 8 Crested Caracara! From there we headed south west to Rt 835 to try for our last target of the day. We searched in vain in the area flycatchers had been reported recently and finally called it quits. We drove only five miles when I spotted a SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER on the fence along the canal. Another lifer for Danny and Carol! From there, Danny and Carol headed north to Davenport. We had a great visit and I enjoyed their company birding the last two days.

distant shot of preening Purple Swamp Hen

distant shot of preening Purple Swamp Hen

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Common Ground Dove

Common Ground Dove

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Parakeet Pursuit:

This morning I decided to head north to St. Petersburg to try for some of the parakeets which are so common there. I had seen some directions for a “sure thing” spot in south St. Pete and decided to give it a try. This has got to be the easiest I have ever found the parakeets. I will post directions below for anyone interested. I parked in a lot next to the address and got out of the car to hear many parakeets. I recognized MONK PARAKEET immediately. It only took a second before two flew by. I checked the Electrical Substation across the street and saw perhaps half a dozen Monk Parakeet nest. The large stick nests were present all around the structure. I found several more Monks and then considerable raucous calling from in the nest indicated there were many, probably young birds, within the nests. I saw a total of 8 Monks. As I searched the surrounding area, I found that all the electric poles heading out from the sub-station had at least one nest hole in them. I then noticed my first NANDAY PARAKEET immerge from one of the holes. I was able to get some decent shots of both species. The first Nanday was joined by its presumed mate and they flew around several times before returning to the nest. It was great to get to observe both species so closely. From there, I went to Ft. Desoto in search of the Vermilion Flycatcher. Though the birding was good all around the island, I never found the Vermilion. Birds of note included 3 Caspian Terns, 7 Marbled Godwit, 1 American Oystercatcher and 1 Long-billed Curlew. Great morning of birding again!

Directions to Parakeets: this only works coming from the south of St. Petersburg. Take Rt 275 north from Rt. 75. Take the 31st Street exit which puts you only half a mile from the site, making a left off the exit. Go the half mile and you will see #335 31st Street on the left. I parked in the closed store parking lot just past the 335 business. I walked the neighborhood and easily found the birds all around the area, especially on the Electric Sub-station. There are feeders @ # 335, but I did not see any birds at them while I was there. When leaving, simply reverse the directions.

Monk Parakeet at the Electrical Sub-station in St. Petersburg

Monk Parakeet at the Electrical Sub-station in St. Petersburg

Nanday Parakeet at nest hole.

Nanday Parakeet at nest hole.

Caspian Terns at Fort DeSoto

Caspian Terns at Fort DeSoto

Long-billed Curlew at Ft. DeSoto

Long-billed Curlew at Ft. DeSoto

This morning I made the trip up to Desoto County to try for the Say’s Phoebe being reported there on 4 Mile Grade Road. It was pouring rain most of the way up. Upon my arrival, the rain had just stopped. The three birders present were on the bird and informed me that it had just appeared when the rain had stopped. Great timing! It gave us all great views as it worked the second fence line in from the road. This was a new state bird for me. Back in Bonita Beach, the Black Scoter flock continues, this morning numbering 255 birds.

Say's Phoebe on 4 Mile Grade Road in Desoto County, Florida.

Say’s Phoebe on 4 Mile Grade Road in Desoto County, Florida.

Bonita Beach 11/17:

This morning I was planning on hanging around the condo. We were having company in the afternoon and there was a huge motorcycle parade passing by that was to have our street closed for a couple of hours. I decided just to bird the beach and lagoon here rather than travel. The 200 Black Scoters continue, but for the first time this morning, a local birder, Monica Higgins was able to come and see the birds. As I scanned them, I finally found a new species. First one, then a total of three SURF SCOTERS were seen. Monica was able to them as well. This was a new state bird for me. Later, speed boats once again flushed the scoters. As I scanned the remaining scoters around noon, I found a HORNED GREBE. There are now at least three Common Loons off the beach as well.

Can you pick out the 3 SURF SCOTERS in this flock?   They are all in the foreground.

Can you pick out the 3 SURF SCOTERS in this flock? They are all in the foreground.

By 3pm, the Horned Grebe on Bonita Beach had been joined by another one.

By 3pm, the Horned Grebe on Bonita Beach had been joined by another one.

11/18 – This morning I got up early and headed for south east Florida. I wanted to hit the Homestead area and Everglades National Park. I had some targets in mind for new birds for the year. First in Homestead, I found COMMON MYNAS in three different locations. I tried to bird Castello Hammock, but it was closed. I tried again on my way home, still closed. I then headed out to Lucky Hammock. This is usually a pretty birdy spot, but today, not so much. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel that since they let the vast fields surrounding the hammock revert to natural state, the hammock is no longer and oasis that draws birds. That said, I found one of my targets here. I always know to spots to look for SHORT-TAILED HAWK. Lucky Hammock and Anhinga Trail. I don’t think I’ve ever missed between these two spots. A huge kettle of vultures came up while I was there, 150 Turkey and 25 Black and sure enough, they were soon joined by a light-phase Short-tailed Hawk. I went on to the park to try for my third bird, but no luck. I hiked out Snake Bite trail and though I did find thousands of mosquitos and a few birds, there were no White-crowned Pigeons to be found. I went on to Flamingo. There I had more White-winged Doves and many waders, but not a single shore bird. Not a bad day overall.

Common Myna at the Circle K in Homestead.

Common Myna at the Circle K in Homestead.

This morning I started out checking for the Scoters off Bonita Beach. I found four rafts totaling 300 Black Scoters. I scanned them as well as I could and found only one Surf Scoter among them. I then headed out to Oil Well Road where many ducks have been being seen. Specifically, looking for the CINNAMON TEAL found by Vince McGrath and the Caloosa Bird Club yesterday. I found the bird relatively fast among thousands of waterfowl. The adult male in eclipse plumage really stood out among the ducks. The bird was distant, but was flushed shortly by a farm vehicle behind the wetland. The duck came 2/3rds of the way closer and was easily seen for great scope views. I even managed to get a couple of identifying photos. I was especially pleased to see the bright red eyes of the bird. Also present were Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal (thousands), American Wigeon, Mottled Duck, Lesser Scaup and two Drake Redheads. All of the typical waders were present as well as a Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and two Bald Eagles. 48 Roseate Spoonbills were a nice sight.

Two Drake Redheads at Oil Well Road wetlands.

Two Drake Redheads at Oil Well Road wetlands.

Cinnamon Teal preening

Cinnamon Teal preening

Cinnamon Teal, best shots I could get before the birds were flushed again by a Peregrine Falcon

Cinnamon Teal, best shots I could get before the birds were flushed again by a Peregrine Falcon

this single shot show hundreds of ducks, mostly teal.  It is just a small portion of the wetlands tremendous numbers of waterfowl

this single shot show hundreds of ducks, mostly teal. It is just a small portion of the wetlands tremendous numbers of waterfowl

Wednesday and Thursday –
Relatively quiet days. Went to try for a better photo of the Cinnamon Teal on Wednesday, but it was farther away than Tuesday. Went to Bunche Beach this morning, but was really quite dead there. This afternoon, after a nice swim, I walked to the point on our beach. Birds roost there in the afternoon and there were hundreds today. The best bird was an adult basic/winter Lesser Black-backed Gull. There was also one Caspian Tern among the hundreds of Royal and Sandwich Terns. Also had my first Spotted Sandpiper of the trip.

Adult basic Lesser Black-backed Gull on Bonita Beach.

Adult basic Lesser Black-backed Gull on Bonita Beach.

Oil Well Road
This morning I had the privilege of birding with Chris and Sally from England and Cheryl Black from here in Ft. Meyers. We spent the entire morning at Oil Well Road. Many ducks had departed since my last visit. We couldn’t find a single Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal were reduced by at least a quarter and American Coot numbers were down by maybe even a thousand birds. The Cinnamon Teal was still present and easily seen most of the morning. The wader and shore bird numbers have exploded. Glossy Ibis easily numbered 300 and White Ibis 200. Roseate Spoonbills numbered 78 and Wood Stork 48. All the heron and egrets were in highest numbers this week. Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall and Northern Pintail were all present and easily seen. It was a great morning with some really nice people! Tomorrow, heading for New York!

Cinnamon Teal at Oil Well Road.

Cinnamon Teal at Oil Well Road.

This huge flock of Glossy Ibis that took flight when flushed by an eagle were only a half of the Glossy Ibis present.

This huge flock of Glossy Ibis that took flight when flushed by an eagle were only a half of the Glossy Ibis present.

huge flock of White and Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, herons and egrets

huge flock of White and Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, herons and egrets

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11 Responses to FLORIDA 2

  1. Sounds like a great trip so far with many good birds! Love the Snowy and Piping Plovers – great shots. Interesting about all the Black Scoters.

    • Yes it is, especially since I don’t have it for Sullivan yet this year. I hope more are still to come for us up north, but it may be a done deal. Hold on to that Shrike for me!

      ________________________________

  2. John, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher looks amazing – great shot. I would love to see that bird! (And many others you’ve been getting).

  3. That Oil Well Road seems like a fantastic spot. I would have loved to see the huge numbers of Glossy and White Ibis! Great trip, thanks for sharing.

  4. Sally and Chris says:

    It was great to meet you yesterday John, and to read about the rest of your trip. Thanks so much for sharing your scope and showing us so many lovely birds – the best morning’s birding we’ve had for a long time. We finally made it to Corkscrew and topped off the day with some nice Black and Whites, Northern Parulas, an Indigo Bunting on the feeders and a Summer Tanager in the swamp. Perfect Day! Safe trip home, good luck with your list, and best wishes for a great birding year, will look out for you next November! Sally and Chris.

  5. prelich99 says:

    John…nice report. Interesting that you’re getting all those scoters down there. Wasn’t there an invasion of Razorbills in Florida last year (including in the Gulf)? I”m curious if the Razorbills will be following the scoters and making a big Florida appearance again.

  6. Truth Muller says:

    John,

    Looks like it was a great trip! The White Ibis was one of my first birds (Those beaks never cease to amaze me) back before I had ever heard of Birding. I love the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher photo!

    Truth

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