Naples Bird Club "Century Run"
The 2nd Annual Naples Bird Club Century Run was held yesterday, 3/03/02.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this affair, it is an all-out
effort to find 100 species of birds entirely in Collier County. I was the
leader for yesterday's effort and with the help of fourteen individuals,
I am proud to say that we surpassed last year's attempt and ended our day
with 109 species! Six participants made it through to the bitter end.
We started the day at 7:00AM at the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk on the
north side of US Rte. 41 (Tamiami Trail), two miles east of Port of the
Islands Resort. We had some nice passerines here including two Brown
Thrashers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Gray Catbirds, Northern Cardinals,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Tufted Titmouse, and many calling Great Crested
Flycatchers. White-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos as well as some great
warblers including many singing Northern Parula, male American Redstart,
Black-and-white, Worm-eating Warbler and Magnolia Warbler were also seen.
A special thanks to the ears of Vince McGrath for "hearing" most of these
birds, thus enabling most participants to visually find them! The nesting
Bald Eagles were difficult to see in their high Bald Cypress aerie.
From there, we stopped at some fresh water pools further east of the
boardwalk but west of the intersection of S.R. 29 on the south side of US
Rte. 41. Here we had many (150+) American White Pelicans. This has been a
phenomenal year for them in Collier County as opposed to last year when
you had to make an all-out effort to locate any. All the usual waders
were here in numbers except for Roseate Spoonbill. Our "best" bird here
was a Black-necked Stilt which the two Vince's, along with Peter Murphy,
had found exactly a week prior in the same location. We could not refind
the Sora nor the Swamp Sparrow however.
From this location, we traveled down Birdon Rd. to Wagonwheel Rd. to
Turner River Rd. in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Along Birdon Rd.
we found the Barn Owl that frequents the area. Barn Owls aren't exactly
common in Collier County. We also had a few Long-billed Dowitchers and
both yellowlegs in the wetter areas but alas, no Purple Gallinules. We
did find a single American Goldfinch and a few calling Eastern
Meadowlarks -- the only ones for the day.
Afterwards, we ventured over to Greenway Rd. & Fritchey Rd.
(approximately three miles east/southeast of the junction of S.R. 951 and
U.S. Rte. 41). We immediately refound the Western Kingbird sitting on the
telephone lines near the beginning of Greenway Rd. This bird has been at
this location for nearly 1.5 months. We also had eastern Bluebirds here
as well. The three Snail Kites that frequented the wetlands along
Fritchey Rd. have long departed since the wetlands are drying up. Apple
Snails are still evident everywhere though. Our best birds here were a
Sharp-shinned Hawk and an adult Bald Eagle. Waders were still about but
in low numbers.
Afterward, we we amazed to see that a very recent prescribed burn along
Shell Island Rd. leading to Briggs Nature Center (Conservancy of SW
Florida) had pretty much decimated the hugh pines that the pair of Great
Horned Owls used (to nest?). These owls have been here for over two years
and I would imagine that due to the fire, they have left. We surely could
not find them. The Florida Scrub-jays were fun to watch as were the
Eastern Towhees who begged for nuts from passersby. The Center was closed
as it was Sunday but since they no longer feed the birds here, there
probably would not have been much else to see around the center. Surely
no Shiny Cowbirds!
From Briggs, we went over to Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. We found
the Burrowing Owls right outside the parking lot to this county park.
Unlike last year, when shorebirds, wading birds, terns and gulls were
virtually non-existant (the main reason for our not reching our 100-birds
goal), this year was different. Due to the very high winds, most
shorebirds were hunkered down right along the Critical Conservation Area.
Besides the usual Least and Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, Short-billed
Dowitchers, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, American Oystercatcher, Willets
etc., we easily had all five plover species with close-up comparisons
from twenty feet away. But our best bird here was an adult Lesser
Black-backed Gull. The "dancing" Reddish Egret added comic relief. A
fly-over Magnificent Frigatebird was an added bonus.
Next we went to Mackle Park on Marco Island where we added Ruddy Duck and
Northern Shoveler to our growing duck list for the day. Not much else was
at the park except Killdeer and coots and moorhens.
Eagle Lakes Community park yielded 5+ Bronzed Cowbirds which have
remained all winter at this location. Blue-winged Teal and Mottled Ducks
were in evidence as were the usual waders, blackbirds and a few raptors.
We ended the day at 6:30PM with a trip to the North Naples Wastewater
Filtration Plant. Here we added Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup,
Ring-necked Duck and a lone Spotted Sandpiper to reach our total of 109
species for the day.
Had we had more time (and energy) we could have ventured east to
Corkscrew Sanctuary and points beyond, on the eastern border of Collier
County. I'm confident that we would have added such species as both
Eastern Screech and Barred Owls, Swallow-tailed Kite, Solitary Sandpiper,
Red-headed and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Sandhill Crane and possibly
Crested Caracara, Wild Turkey and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. But I guess
we have to save a few birds for next year's "Century Run." Perhaps you'd
like to join us?
Thanks goes out to all of the participants and especially to the birders
who "toughed it out" and lasted the entire day. Thanks also to Vince
McGrath, without who's assistance, we never would have found some of our