I led a very enthusiastic group of birders through some of the trails in the preserve this morning. When Whitey Markle asked me to lead a group from the St John's-Suwanee Sierra Club, little did I know that we would be starting at 10:00 AM. I voiced my doubts that there would be many birds around at that time. I soon was to realize that some birds did in fact wait around for us. The species weren't in abundance, but we did get some good looks at a few good birds. Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, and my first of the season Blackpoll Warbler. I did not get a photo of the Blackpoll today, but dug through my photos and found the one I have posted here from 2016. There also were at least 4 Clapper Rails calling out along the marsh edges. We all got a good look at one at the canoe launch. For the two hour trip a total of 26 species was recorded and the eBird link can be seen here. Good Birding and good company.
Our final field trip of the season exploded with birds! We spent several hours on the Whitman Museum grounds. The birds were not readily evident, but with perseverance, viola. They came out of the wood work, so to speak. Black & White's were scurrying up and down the trees.Magnolia, Cape May, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. A Swainson's Thrush and several Great Crested Flycatchers giving us a show all the while proclaiming their territory with their "freeping" (my word) call. The Acadian Flycatcher flitted about in the upper reaches of the oaks. Our next stop was at the cemetary with a one legged Whimbrel spotted in the surrounding waters. The airport was next with Gray Kingbird and Eastern Kingbird. Around the waterfront on the way to lunch, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, Dunlin, Royal & Forster's Terns,Semi-palmated Plovers. Lunch at Steamers with a flock of Black Skimmers flying by. Back to the mudflats and American Avocets. The Train Trestle gave up a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Bay-breasted Warbler. To the Shell Mounds, Blackburnian Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Worm-eating Warbler. Did I say we had birds, well yes, yes we had birds.
At one point during the day, a pod of about 30 White Pelicans seemed to be just stationary in the clear blue sky. Winds aloft apparently were blowing against them and they seemed to be enjoying the sensation of just floating in place. The total of species for the day was a whopping 90. Thanks to the 19 who came out to enjoy another beautiful birdy day in Florida. The eBird list is here.
Another beautiful morning for a leisurely stroll through some of Old Florida's most serene forests. 8 hikers drove into the wildlife management area of Half Moon. Just before the gate and a little distance beyond turned out to be the most active. We drove to the office and then carpooled to the entrance of Mill Road Trail. The photo was taken by Kathy Lemmer on the bridge over Mill Creek. She called it "Fred's Flamingo Pose". Actually I was knocking a mosquito off my leg and did not take the time to avert my attention from a bird that was calling.
We then visited the last boardwalk on the trip and were given superb views of three Swallow-tailed Kites as they scanned the skies for Dragonflies to munch. Kite Photo by Fred Hileman Boardwalk photo by Tom Gulley. The list of 39 species can be seen at this eBird link.
!4 Birders were excited this morning to see for many of us including me, the Snail Kite. We were not disappointed. This one gave us quite a show and many photo ops. Started out cool, but warmed with the rising sun and birds were everywhere. Common Yellowthroats were in abundance as were Yellow-rumped Warblers. Parulas, White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-throated Warbler were some of the few. Then it was Purple Gallinules, 2 Soras, 2 American Bitterns. Black-bellied Whistling and Mottled Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilts, Least and Spotted Sandpipers. Swamp and Savannah Sparrows. Carolina & Marsh Wren. Photo by Fred Hileman
30 degrees and we still had 15 and 1/2 birders. The granddaughter of Fred & Carol Kirk was a real trooper. She walked most of the 2 mile trek taking in all surroundings. Grandmother pointed out to her many plants and other interesting facts along the way. It did get a bit warmer as we progressed along the trail. CCAS has not done this trip for several years as it seems we have neglected the preserve. We were afforded the opportunity to traverse this trail, thanks to Jim & Eileen who have set foot on most of Central Florida's birding areas. There was a fallout of great birds just beyond the gate. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,s Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Northern Parulas, and Hooded Warbler, .We were in this spot for 1/2 hour or more. Traveling on White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos. First of the season Yellow-throated vireos seemed to be everywhere.
We began with two, then four, 6 and finally ended with 8 birders. Timing was everything. Traffic was heavy and some were delayed. But with the low tide, we still were able to find some shorebirds before and just after entering the park. Heading off to the Nature Center to check on what had been seen and then to the dog park. Wading through the tidal pools gave us the reward of two very cooperative American Oystercatchers. But continuing on to the area most inhabited by Plovers brought some disappointment. It seems Hurricane Irma has changed the landscape from my recollection of it from last year. Several Semi-palmated Plovers was the extent of our viewing here. The island was extremely busy for a weekday. People everywhere. Photo by Fred Hileman
We then went to the Nature Trail to see the Great Horned Owls. Tom Gulley took the photos of the two sleepy chicks and mother as she looked on from a nearby tree. For this part of the trip we got 40 species and can be seen at this eBird link.
Off to the Lucky Dill for lunch. And then onto Fred Howard Beach for a great disappointment. People everywhere and the highest tide I have ever seen there. The one saving grace was a single Marbled Godwit. But the lack of birds there did not spoil the rest of what was a bright, sunny day in Florida.
Where to begin? Begin at the beginning. Lust Rd entrance to Apopka is always hopping. Some of the best are usually there. And so were 15 of some of the best birders of Citrus County Audubon. We got the Ash-throated Flycatcher that has been seen in this area for quite some time.
But the most exciting was seeing the White-crowned Sparrows. They blended so well with their surroundings which made them very difficult to see. As I said, some of the best birders were present and keen eyes brought them out. Thanks Mike.
This image of Wilson's Snipe and American Coot gives a very real visualization of just how small one is compared to the other. A snipe not very often will remain still when spotted as this one did..
Great Blue Heron and Anhinga nests were seen along the 11 mile ride. This dark male Anhinga was encouraging the female to let him take over the job, giving his mate a break.. She finally agreed after some encouragement and he slid into her place. The day was very productive with a total of 52 species. Then it was off to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch. The list of 52 can be seen at this eBird link. Top photo by Tom Gulley Bottom 3 by Fred Hileman
Seventeen eager birders arrived at the entrance to Emeralda Marsh on the first day open to car traffic in 3 years. It has been tremendously upgraded. There are more open waters to view birds than ever before. This has always been one of my favorite spots to bird and I am even more excited about it. Ducks were not in any quantity as the hunting season had ended and the ducks have moved on.The water birds were readily observable. Hawks, Northern Harrier, trilogy of woodpeckers and Sapsucker, 6 species of warbler, Kinglets, Gnatcatchers were busy feeding or looking for food. American Goldfinches were in abundance in the Sweet Gum trees. The list of 61 species is here.
After enjoying a well deserved lunch at Ramshackle Cafe, the group went to Venetian Gardens in Leesburg to see Purple Gallinules up close. Some of the group had a life bird from this visit.
Some just enjoyed seeing the Gulls and the White Ibis come close for bread.
7 birders ventured out to check out Ocklawaha Prairie, but it was not a go. Tom & I went directly to the destination while some met at the gas station as planned. The entrance to the area was blocked off. There had been a recent burn in addition to water covering the road. The back up plan was Carney which is in the near vicinity. And I must say not a bad choice. We found several areas where there were trees alive with birds. Warblers were in good supply, Orange-crowned, Black and white, Palm, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated and first of the season Northern Parula. Downy, Red-bellied, Pileated woodpeckers with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Wild Turkeys, Canada Geese, with Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in abundance. The day was perfect with a well deserved lunch at Gator Joe's to end the day. We had a total of 55 species which can be viewed at this eBird link
Fifteen Audubon Birders joined us for a wonderful Monday afternoon at the Orlando Wetlands Park. The OWP provided us with a Tram and a knowledgeable driver which was enjoyed by 9 folks and allowed some to complete the 2 1/2 mile birding loop. We tallied 46 species, including Brown Thrush, Bald Eagle, King Rail (H), Limpkin, many Purple Gallinule, Red-tailed Hawk, Sora, Barred Owl (H), Black-Crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, and ~60 Roseate Spoonbills.
I think for most, the highlight was the Wood Stork and Night Heron Rookery that was seen from the Oyler Overlook. Well over a 100 Wood Storks were viewed many carrying nesting material, along with at least 10 Night Herons! The list is here
On Tuesday, we rendezvoused at the Parrish Beach Park, along with 100s of Falcon Heavy Watchers! We completed our normal route at the W. Gator Creek Rd. Cove and Black Point Drive and picked up 54 species, including C. Loon, Horned Grebe, A. Bittern, Sora, Bald Eagle, 5 Duck species, Roseate Spoonbill, 3 Tern species, and some nearly full-up breeding Reddish Egrets doing their "drunken sailor" dance.
We decided to evacuate MINWR and go inland for lunch and then visit the Chain of Lakes Park to watch the Falcon Heavy Launch. Due to the Launch slip to 3:45, we were able to do some more birding and picked up 6 more species, including Mottled Duck and Pileated Woodpecker. So in all, 60 species were tallied for the day plus one impressive Heavy Falcon which made the end of the Launch Window at 3:45! The list is here
What a great 2 days of birding and Launch, Jim & Eileen
Top Photo and bottom right by Thomas Gulley. The launch photo by Jim Meyer