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737Re: [SWFLBirdline] new to list

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  • jbouton2@earthlink.net
    Aug 3, 2004
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      Boy is there! As a professional field ornithologist and tour guide for the
      past 20 years, I've lived in and birded many areas, but this is the first
      spot I've ever lived where I can realistically go out ANY day of the year
      and (with a bit of effort naturally) see over 100 species of birds. That is
      a real treat especially coming from Alaska where the winters can be like
      holding your breath if you're a birder. Never have you appreciated the
      arrival of a Canada Goose more, let me assure you of that! I recently read
      that FL is one of the "birdiest" states, behind only a few (California,
      Texas, etc.) but it is unparalleled when it comes to habitat diversity. No
      state has more recognized habitat types than the state of FL which is why it
      is such a great place to bird.

      As you mentioned, there is a plethora of water birds readily accessible in
      and around Gulf Coast communities and you can find large concentrations of
      shorebirds, gulls, terns, and of course the long-legged waders. Even in
      summer, a simple trip to the beach can produce views of nesting Snowy and
      Wilson's Plovers, Willets, with smaller numbers of lingering, non-breeding
      Black-bellied Plovers, Turnstones, and Sanderling, while some of the
      spectacular residents feed or rest nearby. Birds like: Reddish & Snowy
      Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Royal, Sandwich, and Least Terns, and Black
      Skimmers may line the beaches. Follow this with a trip to a place like
      Babcock Webb WMA where you can see breeding Red-cockaded Woodpeckers,
      Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bachman's Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Pine
      Warblers, Brown Thrashers, Common Ground-Doves, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern
      Towhee (and note the unique character of the light-eyed Florida race),
      Red-shouldered Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite, Northern Bobwhite, Northern
      Flicker, Downy, Hairy, & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, etc. Stop along the way
      for views of other FL specialty species like Gray Kingbirds, FL Scrub Jays,
      and Burrowing Owls!

      Explore swamps like Corkscrew and Six mile Cypress Preserve for nesting
      Barred Owls, Limpkins, and Wood Storks feeding amongst the Bald Cypress
      knees, while the calls and songs of the many Pileated Woodpeckers, Carolina
      Wrens, Northern Cardinals, and Tufted Titmouse ring throughout. Northern
      Parulas are common in the canopies as they make their homes in the hanging
      Spanish Moss. From Bonita it is a quick trip to the Shark Valley portion of
      the Everglades NP. Here you can see Snail Kites and Limpkins, Least
      Bitterns, Purple Gallinule, and King Rails, amidst the hoardes of alligators
      and other wading birds. Make a weekend trip out of it and get into the true
      hardwood hammock country of the Everglades and or FL Keys and find
      carribbean holdouts like White-crowned Pigeon, Mangrove Cuckoo,
      Black-whiskered Vireos while soaking up the beauty of these places.

      Now as we enter into migration, the excitement of birding in SW Florida
      increases. Trips to migrant traps like Sanibel and the like can be rewarded
      by great days of birding. While the more adventurous might opt to make a run
      to the crowned jewel of migrant traps, Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas
      where you may see near 30 species of warblers while hundreds of Magnificent
      Frigatebirds circle and the "Wide Awake!" calls of the nesting Sooty Terns
      are the most common sound. You can add on specialty species like Brown
      Noddy, Brown and Masked Booby, while enjoying all of the majesty of the
      surrounding coral reef community clearly visible below the clear blue

      So what do you think, do I have a promising future as a tourism brochure
      writer if my current endeavors don't work out?!?..... ;)

      If you have any specific questions regarding bird finding locally, don't
      hesitate to contact me or (I'm sure) nearly any of the other very helpful
      members of the local birding community. They were very helpful to me when I
      moved down 6 years ago...... Of course, I may have ruined it for everyone
      else, as perhaps they have learned from their mistakes after creating a
      monster! ;)

      Good birding,

      Jeff Bouton
      Leica Sports Optics
      Port Charlotte, FL

      Good Birding
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