Four very eager to be outside birders visited the Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park. It was a little cooler today with no humidity, but rather windy. The list of birds were not plentiful, but the park is very well planned. There are many board walks and three loops. There are bathrooms on the route and it is very easy walking. We did see many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and some with goslings. 2 Kestrels, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed hawk, White Ibis, Little Blue, Great Blue, and Great Egret.
What a beautiful day for a field trip! 11 eager birders walked the property surrounding the visitors center. The habitats for birds abound. Blue Jays, Robins, Northern Parulas, American Goldfinches, 3 woodpeckers, Vireos, and more. The surprising thing was there were many water birds, but were not easy to see. Great Blues, Little Blues, Tri-color, Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Anhingas, Common Gallinule and Snowy.
One of the highlights was watching a Kestrel bomb a Red-shouldered Hawk. The Kestrel bombed the hawk for several minutes and then gave up when the hawk didn't budge from the top of the tree. We tallied 42 species for the morning.
Another fun and productive Citrus Audubon Trip, this time at Audubon's Ahhochee Hill which is a unique property with some elevation. We had many Red-headed Woodpeckers, along with 4 other 'pecker species, including the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Pileated (heard). We also had a nice flock of A. Goldfinch and Cedar Waxwings. Some had brief look at the Swallow-tailed Kite and a Barred Owl was heard. Afterwords, we took some visitors to Ft. Cooper S.P. for a look at the nesting Great Horned Owl and we got a good look at a circling S.T. Kite, our first of the year! Unfortunately, we were only able to see the tail and wingtips of the Owl! The last px is the G.H. Owl from yesterday evening when she was all eyes! Jim & Eileen
We went out on the Tidewater Tours at Cedar Key Feb 24, 2020. One of several spectacular sights was an island of over 400 American Oystercatchers! Here is a link to a YouTube video that Tom took of them. You have to watch it to believe it. There were hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants, at least 200 American Avocets. Many White Pelicans, Willets, Least Sandpipers, many Marbled Godwits. I could not recommend this trip other than it should be a must. We even had a Whimbrel. Photo courtesy of Sandra Marraffino.
Chilling temperatures did not deter 20 excited birders from coming out to bird Emeralda on the first day of opening to traffic. Did I say cold? Why yes, yes I did. It seemed to get colder as the day progressed with the wind ever stronger. But bird we did. There were very few little birds. Most were hunkered down due to the "Arctic" winds. They wee brutal at times. But we persevered!. The entire time we were on the trial there was only one other vehicle that came behind and wanted to pass our caravan. There were many Scaup but very few other ducks. Coots were present in great numbers as were Common Gallinules, Glossy and White Ibis, and Great Egrets. We were a group of cold and hungry birders. 17 of us opted to go to lunch. Our usual restaurant , Ramshackle Cafe was able to seat us around 11:15. There were very few people in the restaurant, but by the time we left at 12:30, it had filled to max. There were people outside at tables. Good lunches had by all. Then several of left for Venetian Gardens to see the Purple Gallinules. We racked up a 45 species list for the trip.https://ebird.org/checklist/S64861361 The link for the list on eBird.
Eleven Birders enjoyed perfect weather, along with very cooperative birds at the Orlando Wetlands Park on Wednesday, 2/5 and tallied 57 species. Before the trip started, Eileen, Jim and Ken looked for the Yellow-breasted Chat with no success but did manage to find a Great-crested Flycatcher! Other highlight birds were the many Purple Gallinules, 5 Black-crowned Night Herons, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, many Roseate Spoonbills on the cypress dome, Black-neck Stilts, and an amazing sight of 4 Painted Buntings in an Elm tree enjoying its seeds, a long look at a flying A. Bittern and our tram drivers Randy & Mary put us on a Peregrine Falcon to add to our take for the day!
On Thursday, the group birded Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and enjoyed another great day with 64 species seen, including the Cinnamon Teal. Some other highlights were 11 Duck species, including Hooded Mergansers, Redhead, Canvasback, and Pintail, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Black-backed Gull, White Pelicans, an abundance of Roseate Spoonbills, a pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds, and 5 Scrub Jays at the entrance of the Canaveral National Seashore and Northern Gannets over the Ocean.
We really had an interesting start at W. Gator road with the Roseate Spoonbills, and hundreds of mating Horseshoe Crabs on the shore with birds lined up along the shore also, including ~200 Sanderlings that kept showing us their murmuration skills also! We had a surprise visit from Laura Lee Thompson, who started the Space Coast Birding Festival, and she gave us a great insight into how this beach area is the most productive in Florida for the Horseshoe Crabs. Total species for the combined trips came out at 90!
Another great pair of annual trips, our 10th of leading it, with our friends from Citrus and Hernando Audubon. Jim and Eileen
Sixteen eager birders came out on a gray, overcast morning, but all were ready to see what species Apopka had in store. What beginning specie could have been more appropriate than the Gray-headed Swamphen. Birds were everywhere. I think that this year has been one of the most active. There were American Coots in all the ponds and numbered in the thousands. Anhingas, Cormorants, and Great Blue, Green, & Little Blue, Tri-colored Herons, and Snowy, Great, & Cattle Egrets. Yellow, Orange-crowned, Palm, & Yellow-rumped Warblers. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Wrens. Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed & Cooper's Hawks. Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mottled, Canvasback, Ring-necked, Black-bellied & Fulvous Whistling Ducks. Nothing like having all your ducks in a row.. The Fulvous were in great numbers as well as the Black-bellied. We watched as this juvenile Bald Eagle snatched a coot out of a pond. The American Bittern devoured a large snake and stretched his neck to get it down. Soras, Wilson Snipe and even 2 American White Pelicans. The Common Yellowthroat was happy to pose as was the Painted Bunting. The best way to make a gray day sunny. 66 species counted All photos by Fred Hileman
If it’s McKethan Lake in January or February, it will be cold. At 8:00 AM it was 29 degrees. Nonetheless, eight hardy birders went afield (and in cars). We had a great time and a couple of us took off a layer or two before it was over. The first highlight at McKethan Lake occurred right in front of us over the water near the shore at the picnic area. A mature Bald Eagle circled low and dived close to the surface several times over the same spot on the lake. After it gave up and flew to a treetop perch on the other side, a Pied-billed Grebe surfaced near that spot. Then the woods trail leading from the parking area produced again. Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen and one photographed and included here. This was a first by my recollection. Some other notable species seen at McKethan were Hermit Thrush, Black and White Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and American Woodstork.
After McKethan Lake was finished seven of us traveled a few miles to Big Pine. We picked up two more Red-headed Woodpeckers. One posed at the top of a snag for a good while. In all, 40 species were tallied. Karen Bender, a new member, took the group photo. Rey Wells
Our first trip as leaders turned out to be a beautiful, partly sunny day with 20 enthusiastic birders ready for discovery. We chose to travel to three major sites where parking was available: museum, cemetery, and a nearby bottlebrush tree, but distributed maps of Cedar Key if people wanted to visit more sites on their own. Most of the birds were at the museum grounds including warblers (black-throated green, black-throated blue, Northern Parula, hooded, and Cape May), 3 species of doves, and nesting osprey. Mike spotted a pair of brown thrashers and Effie photographed a gray cheeked thrush, a first for many of us. Effie also got a shot of a dickcissel that often flocks with house sparrows, but is more common in the tall grass prairies of the midwest. Our visit to the nearby 20 foot bottlebrush tree presented many hummers, indigo buntings, orchard orioles, the first dickcissel feeding on the ground, and a clapper rail in the reeds at the end of the road. We wanted to thank Cedar Key Audubon members, Libby and Dale, who accompanied us on two pre walks and showed us some new places to observe including the spot to find a loon (at the end of the beach pier) and that great bottlebrush tree. When I returned home, I called Elaine Roche to hear what she found at the shore locations and airport strip: lesser scaup, semipalmated plover, sanderling, white pelican, royal tern, black skimmer, and an immature bald eagle. While driving past Inglis, she spotted a swallowtail kite, stopped the car, and then saw a small group of Mississippi kites. What a great find. Thanks, Elaine, for your persistence. Thanks also to our visitors from Atlanta, Vermont, and Texas and the CCAS members who helped them find those flitting warblers. Altogether we saw approximately 62 species thanks to the 20 pairs of eyes that joined us. What a great first leader trip. Thanks to you all. Fred and Carol Kirk
Eileen and I supported the smallest CCAS Bird Trip on record-based on the Wx forecast, I'm sure, no one appeared! We were quite concerned too but, would you believe, it was Blue Skies into the early afternoon and didn't start raining until 5:30!
Even though the migrants were thin, we managed to tally around 60 species. We had quite a neat late afternoon when we had a group of Hooded, Black and White, and Prothonotary Warblers in a canal full of mangroves at the Arrowhead Picnic Area. We did see a Summer Tanager and Indigo Bunting there also. We then went to the East Beach trail and Eileen spotted the young Great Horned Owl that had been reported there-the final ending to the day! For me the Highlight was seeing a nice group of A. Avocets dressed in full breeding attire! These Beauts were way across the lagoon and holding the camera in the heavy winds was a challenge! Along with the Avocets, we had several Tern species-Black Skimmers, Royal, Least, Sandwich, along with several Gull species in the protected area of the North Beach. Two other neat birds there were the Reddish Egret and several Marbled Godwits. As always, many peeps and shorebirds on the East Beach turnaround loop that were sharing it with the Kite Boarders. And it was neat seeing the Black- hooded Parakeets, Swallow-tailed Kites, M. Frigatebirds, Northern Gannets and Great-crested Flycatchers flying around.