A flotilla of 6 kayakers with Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club (ACKC) braved the approaching nasty and anticipated windy weather yesterday to enjoy birding on Lake Seminole, Jackson County, Florida. Arriving at the boat landing on River Road on the southwest shore of the lake, we were greeted with scattered rafts of coots and the calls of a red-shouldered hawk, a red-bellied woodpecker and a pileated woodpecker. Though the cloud cover was solid and the tops of the pines swayed ominously, we slipped the boats onto the lake and paddled past the campground at Three Rivers State Park before turning north to follow the west shore of the lake. As we traversed a small channel between the west shore and a small island, one of the paddlers pointed out two adult bald eagles beautifully perched high in a pine close to us. Before these magnificent raptors took flight into the increasingly windy skies, they gave us excellent close-up views. And shortly after
the two eagles were airborn westward, a juvenile eagle appeared and winged its way after the adults. As we paddled an exposed open water stretch with the strong winds to our backs, dozens of coots would start their long runs on the wave-roughed surface leaving small rooster tails in their wake. As a high powered bass boat started northbound just to the east of us, the boat headed right toward a very large raft of black dots in the distance. These black dots immediately became airborn, cormorants 100 + strong, winging southbound just to our east.
Continuing on across this windy stretch of open water, one of the paddlers spotted amongst the coots, six ruddy ducks, 3 males and 3 females. And as we were enjoying viewing these little avian wonders, another paddler yelled out that we had an eagle far ahead of us. Not only did we have another adult bald eagle, but it was being attacked by an osprey. The osprey would dive from 30 to 40 feet above the eagle, almost peregrine style. In retaliation, the eagle inverted itself extending its talons up toward the osprey. The osprey would pull out of its dive, gain altitude and repeat the maneuver at least two more times.
Almost left unobserved during our paddling, tree swallows floated and dived on the winds and skimmed the waves as they fed on invisible prey while several ring-billed gulls observed us from a higher perspective.
Further on and up an old flooded valley and through a submerged pecan grove, hundreds of coots made it difficult to sort out any ducks that might have been present. But one keen observed picked out one male and two female canvasbacks in the mixed of black feathered bodies with bright white bills. And thoughts of an old "B" rated movie came to mind titled Lake Placid as we glassed what appeared to be an extremely large gator slowly "paddling"out of our way.
The northbound paddle was the easy part. The southbound paddle was a little more interesting. By the time we reached the open water stretch, we were greeted with winds estimated to be between 10 to 20 knots with gusts to 25, waves up to a foot, maybe a little higher. Made for good excercise and forget scanning for birds on the water. Waves and binocs do not mix no matter how steady a hand one has. Making the landing was a relief for all. After the paddle, several of us had a late lunch at a park on the south shore of Lake Seminole north of Sneads. Robins, bluebirds, mockers, a chipper, yellow-rumps, and cardinals entertained us while we ate. Of interest, we counted 25 cattle egrets in a pasture on the east side of Legion Road as we left for Tally.
* Canvasback: 1 male, 2 females
* Lesser Scaup: 1 male
* Scaup: 2 female - Lesser ?
* Ruddy Duck: 3 males, 3 females
* Pied-billed Grebe: 6
* Double-crested Cormorant: 100+
* Anhinga: 2 males, 2 females
* Great Blue Heron: 1
* Great Egret: 3
* Cattle Egret: 25
* Black Vulture: 1
* Turkey Vulture: 9
* Osprey: 3
* Bald Eagle: 3 adults, 1 juvenile
* Red-shouldered Hawk: 1 heard
* American Kestrel: 1
* Common Moorhen: 4
* American Coot: 800 +
* Ring-billed Gull: 3
* Red-bellied Woodpecker: 1 seen, 1 heard
* Pileated Woodpecker: 1 heard
* Blue Jay: 7 seen + heard
* Crow (sp): 4
* Tree Swallow: 100 +
* American Robin: 20
* Northern Mockingbird: 2
* Yellow-rumped Warbler: 12
* Chipping Sparrow: 1
* Northern Cardinal: 6 - male/female
* Red-winged Blackbird: 1 male
* Boat-tailed Grackle: 8 - male/female
Good birding and stay warm !!
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