Another beautiful morning. I got a wonderful surprise this morning. Twenty one people came out to enjoy the morning with me. 13 members from On Top of The World joined in with 8 other folks to make it a very healthy group.
Wood Ducks, Pied-billed Grebes, Anhingas, Double-crested Cormorant, Immature Little Blue, White Ibis, Cattle Egret, and Belted Kingfishers greeted us on the water. We had Carolina Wrens all over and were being very vocal and out in plain sight for viewing as they called. With more Red-eyed Vireos than I have heard in a very long time at this period of year. They just seemed to be as plentiful as the Carolina wrens. Walking to back field did not produce many results, except for the American Goldfinches and House Wren. The hightlight was the Red-bellied Woodpecker was trying to keep the Downy away from his nest. Still was a nice stroll.
Finally coming back into the Butterfly Garden the Gray Catbirds and this beautiful Hermit Thrush were there to give us a sendoff. We then braved the Dunnellon traffic to enjoy lunch at The Blue Gator. The list of the 31 species for the trip can be seen at this eBird link.
Wow, what a gem! We started out at the campground with fog and overcast, but it did not hinder the birds from gleaning insects from the trees in the parking lot. We opted for the Swamp Trail and were not disappointed. Trio of woodpeckers, White and Red-Eyed Vireos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Brown Thrasher, Black-and-White Warbler, Northern Parulas all over the place, and American Goldfinches to name a few. Arriving at the springs, Wood Ducks, Great, Blue, Little Blue, and Green Herons, Grebes, White Ibis, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher to name a few more. On the way out of the park the Swallow-tailed Kite was spotted. The list of 32 species can be seen at this eBird Link.
Our next stop was at the headsprings. We had lunch, Cheeseburger & Fries for me, which was very good. and more of the same birds that we had at the campground. The interesting part of this area was a rookery of Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants. We again spotted a Swallow-tailed Kite. These two areas combined make for a great outing, We will definitely add this to our must go field Trips for next season. The list of species seen at the Headsprings can be seen at this eBird link. We had a total of 36 species for both sites. Photos Courtesy Jim Meyers
Despite the steady drizzle 8 birders came out for a late afternoon outing. It did not disappoint as we saw Loggerhead Shrike, American Kestrel, Eastern Bluebird, many more. We were especially happy to see that the Red-headed Woodpeckers have returned to this area.
Afterward we proceeded to Whispering Oaks Winery and met up with 7 others. So fifteen of us enjoyed the camaraderie while sampling various flavors of locally produced Blueberry wine and hors d'oeuvres. We agreed that this should definitely be a return trip next year.
After a nerve wracking drive down 19 to Dunedin, 17 of us were ready for some fun and relaxation; doing one of the things we like doing the best. Observing the birds. Although the strong winds and blowing sand gave us some competition; we were not deterred. Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Least Sandpipers, and a host of Short-billed Dowitchers gave us photo ops.
We had to wade the tide out to the sandbar at the Pet Park, but with the winds and swirling sand the Plovers weren't there. We did see a juvenile Bald Eagle sitting on shoreline. We tripped out to the Nature Trail and were greeted with an adult Long Horned Owl. After some very diligent searching these two Great Horned Owl chicks were found in the smallest of nests. It was difficult to determine there were two until I got the photo on the computer. This was the highlight for the trip to Honeymoon. Lunch at no other place than The Lucky Dill was excellent as usual. The list of species for Honeymoon Island was 47 species and the eBird link can be seen here.
After lunch it was on to Fred Howard Park. This area is a superb place for large gatherings of certain species at different times. The largest gathering this time were well over an hundred Black Skimmers. There were Marbled Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, and lots of Willets. The thrill for me and I daresay for most was the close-up view and photo op of the Whimbrel who was congregating in the midst of the Marbled Godwits, Dowitchers and Willets. The link to eBird for this list is here. We had a total of 55 species for the two areas.