Caloosa Bird Club Fieldtrip Results 2/24/03
Today's Caloosa Bird Club fieldtrip centered on Sarasota County where we
visited the Venice Rookery, Sarasota County Solid Waste Facility and
Oscar Scherer S.P. We saw a total of 75 species as a group on our outing.
Some of our "best birds" were a pair of House Finches gathering nesting
material (Spanish moss) from the slash pines in between the parking area
and the rookery proper. I've sent a separate post regarding this
sighting. Of course the many nesting high-breeding plumaged Great Blue
Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Anhingas etc. were wonderful to watch
as the parental birds fed young, turned their eggs, fought (one Great
Egret was allegedly attacked and killed by a rival), and "primped" for
the oogling queues of photographers and photographer-wanabes with their
600mm "big gun" lenses. Who said spring isn't here?
Other birds seen at the Venice Rookery were a pair of Pileated
Woodpeckers who put on a marvelous show in a dead tree next to the
rookery for the photographers. Three fly-over Monk Parakeets were another
good sighting here as were the 4-5 Black-crowned Night-Herons at the
rookery and the Purple Martins flying overhead. A Blue-headed Vireo was
From the Venice Rookery, we ventured over to Sarasota County Solid Waste
Facility where a quick tour of the perimeter of the landfill yielded at
least four Bald Eagles, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Crane, Wilson's Snipe,
Eastern Bluebird, singing Pine Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern
Meadowlark and thousands of mostly Ring-billed & Laughing Gulls flying
over the landfill. Myriad Black and Turkey Vultures were also present as
would be expected.
Our last "official" stop was nearby Oscar Scherer State Park where the
banded Florida Scrub-Jays easily found us! An overwintering flock of
Chipping Sparrows was easily observed as well. However, the best birds
seen here were a Yellow-throated Vireo and a Hairy Woodpecker -- seen by
a few Caloosans, unfortunately, I wasn't among them. Northern Parula,
Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed
Vireo, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Phoebe and American Robin were some of our
other sightings at Oscar Scherer.
In the morning, on our way to the Venice Rookery, I saw a Wild Turkey
from I-75 in a clearing at MM133.5
After the fieldtrip was over, Arthur & Anne Wilson, John Will and I did a
quick pass through Babcock-Webb WMA. We didn't find any RCWs at home but
we did see a half-dozen cavity trees -- most with "artificial" nest
holes. The good news here is that Oil Well Grade is once again open so
that one can now make the continuous "loop" from Tucker's Grade to Oil
Well Grade to Tram Grade to Seaboard Grade and back to Tucker's Grade.
The shooting range has been expanded a great deal and it is louder than
ever with gun/rifle noise. Also, a recent prescribed(?) burn has scared
much of the area but it should come back nicely.
We didn't have any rarities at Babcok-Webb WMA but the usual Pine
Warblers, Eastern Blubirds and myriad(!) feeding Palm Warblers were
evident. We saw several non-vocal Bachman's Sparrows doing their
"flush-from-saw palmetto-and-fly-to-ground-and-run-routine" on several
occasions. I did see one lone Brown-headed Nuthatch as well plus the
usual waders, blackbirds, Red-tailed Hawk etc. My first Palamedes
Swallowtail of the season was a welcome sighting as well.