Pine Lake Preserve

This morning I birded Pine Lake Preserve in Bonita Springs.  This is a great spot and always productive.  The lake is quite dry right now with large ponds scattered about.  This made for good shorebird habitat and there were plenty.  One Greater and three Lesser Yellowlegs, 10 Solitary Sandpipers, 12 Least Sandpipers, 10 Killdeer (including chicks), a Spotted Sandpiper, and new for me for the county, a WILSON’S SNIPE!  Besides the shorebirds, there were several waders and a few passerines.  A Prairie and my second Worm-eating Warbler of the trip were the only warblers.  Many common forest birds were present, including my first Downy Woodpeckers and House Wrens of the trip. When I was done there, I headed around the corner to the Bonita Nature Place.  Here I had quite a few new trip birds and a couple of new county birds as well.  The highlights were a Red-eyed Vireo and Black-throated Green Warbler, both firsts of the year for me. My totals for the trip thus far are 103 species, and now a total for Lee County Florida of 198 species overall.  That means I am quite likely to reach my goal of breaking 200 for the county on this trip.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

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Point Ybel Lighthouse Park once again.

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My first ever Orchard Oriole for the state of Florida!

This morning, due to a bit of confusion in our schedule, we birded the lighthouse on Sanibel again.  Though not planned, it was a good choice of spots.  There had been some movement again, and few birds had left, so there were some nice things to see.  Highlights for me included a beautiful male ORCHARD ORIOLE!  Unlike the tanager earlier in the week, I knew this was a new state bird for me and was quite pleased to see it. Besides the oriole, a few warblers were seen to.  I had two YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, two Prairie Warbler and a WORM-EATING WARBLER, the later a new county bird.  Also new for the county was my FOS PURPLE MARTIN!  New for the trip was a beautiful WHITE-EYED VIREO,  all adding up to make it a great morning.  Eddie actually birded with me the entire morning, enjoying talking with some of the other birders and watching the excitement of what was happening.  Could this be the start of something…..? BTW, all of my visits to Sanibel this week included getting to spend some time with Donald and Lillian Stokes of Field Guide and Television fame.  This was simply a coincidence that we were there at the same time.  Today, I got a chance to chat with Donald for a while, a really nice gentleman, and I really enjoyed our conversation.  I have met the Stokes many times on trips around the country, and its always nice to see them!

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Another great day!

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My FOS Gray Kingbird on Ft. Meyers Beach!

This morning I was going to head to Pine Lake Preserve to see what I might find there.  I went on ebird and saw that Sanibels Point Ybel had great birds again yesterday, so I changed my plans. On my way over to Sanibel I spotted my FOS GRAY KINGBIRD on Estero Blvd in Ft. Meyers Beach.  Nice start!  I arrived at Pt. Ybel and many birders were already moving about.  I was hoping for my first Florida Kentucky Warbler that was found yesterday.  Some folks found the bird, but I never did.  That said, I had a great morning.  I had great looks at my first county SWAINSON’S WARBLER!  Also seen by me was an Ovenbird, Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher and many other common species.  Seen by others included a Hooded Warbler, Palm Warbler, Summer Tanager, Red-headed Woodpecker and more.  The coppice at the point is dense and finding birds you sometimes can hear, can be tough.  You have to be at the “exactly  right place at the exactly  right time” Quoting my old friend Ed De Bellevue!  At any rate it was a great morning and I will be back at the point in the next few days.  Now, back at home, a big Congratulations to Karen Miller on finding two CASPIAN TERNS at the Bashakill!  Wish I had gotten to see them, but thrilled my birding buds Karen and Scott got to see them! Keep up the momentum!

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Florida Surprise!

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This morning I was birding Bunche Beach and J.N.Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island. I was picking up many new year birds for the state and having a really great morning.  As I was coming out of the visitors center at the refuge, I went to check out one of the fruiting fig trees.  These trees have been very productive for me throughout the years.  As I neared the tree I saw many Gray Catbirds feeding on the ripened fruit.  I was just about ready to walk away when I saw a red flash fly into the back of the tree.  In Florida, that usually means another beautiful Red Cardinal.  I moved around to check the bird, just in case, and found a beautiful male SCARLET TANAGER! I was able to get quite a few shots of the bird, while pointing it out to a couple of other birders.  Your first tanager of the year is always memorable. I was really pleased to see this one, it was just beautiful.  When I got back to the condo and entered my report into ebird, I was very surprised to find that it had been my very first Scarlet Tanager ever in Florida! My 280th Florida State bird!

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Sanibel Island, Bonita Beach and Harns Marsh

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I spent the last couple of days birding the above areas.  Migration has been slow here, though there was a moderate fallout on Sanibel on Saturday night.  By the time I could check it out Monday morning, most of the birds had moved on. My highlights there were a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, Black and White Warbler and Northern Parula.  Back at Bonita Beach in the afternoon, I had an abundance of birds at the north tip.  Hundreds of gulls and terns were highlighted by ten LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS! This was my highest count at one time anywhere.  Magnificent Frigatebirds, Common Ground Doves and Wilson’s Plovers were other highlights. Today, I birded Harn’s Marsh. This is a fabulous spot.  I had 45 species there today with many highlights.  Ten SWALLOW-TAILED KITES held the top spot here.  A pair of GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHENS were another highlight.  The male was displaying to the female most of the morning. I’ve ended the day with a total of 73 species for the trip so far. Its been a fun few days!

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Bonita Beach Florida!

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Eddie and I arrived at 2pm to our usual haunts in Bonita Beach Florida!  Its actually a bit warm at 85 degrees, but there’s a nice breeze off the gulf. We are just settling in, but I couldn’t help but check out the birds on the beach.  Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls, Boat-tailed Grackles all greeted us.  I will update my posts from time to time during our stay.  Hope you guys back home are still getting all the great migrants you were getting when I left!

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Kiamesha Update

Late this afternoon I spoke with Karen Miller who informed me she had seen a number of birds at the lake that I hadn’t seen.  I decided to head back up to try for them.  I did in deed find three RED-THROATED LOONS and now eight COMMON LOONS. Also present now were five Red-breasted Mergansers and 15 Lesser Scaup among the other species present.  Patrick Dechon was there when I arrived, and he informed me that a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers had flown out.  It was great that so many people were able to get to see these birds today!

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