Recent Birding Results
No Red-legged Honeycreeper to report, but I've been doing a lot of
birding in Southwest Florida of late. On Monday, March 23rd, as part of
the Caloosa Bird Club fieldtrip to Cape Coral, participants had up to a
half-dozen or more vocalizing Grasshopper Sparrows in a short grassy
field at the intersection of SW 3rd Terrace & SW 31st Avenue in nortwest
Cape Coral. This area is north of Pine Island Rd. (S.R. 78). An active
Bald Eagle nest with two young birds can be clearly seen in a Slash Pine
in the same area. Other birds seen by the Caloosans on the 23rd were many
nesting Monk Parakeets at the BMX Park and other Cape Coral locales. Also
seen were many nesting Burrowing Owls, including a pair that have adapted
to a man-made burrow consisting of two PVC pipes going to an underground
nestbox. This is an experiment by Florida Fish & Wildlife. With luck,
this idea will catch on and thus help to provide suitable nesting
structures for these birds from ever-increasing developmental pressures.
This system seems to work with Burrowing Owls out West. I believe Cape
Coral has the largest population of Burrowing Owls in the state. . . .
After leaving Cape Coral, Arthur & Anne Wilson and I made a brief stop at
Babcock-Webb W.M.A. Being the heat of the day, we were lucky to find one
Bachman's Sparrow and a very co-operative Red-cockaded Woodpecker on Tram
Grade. Many Pine Warblers and Eastern Bluebirds were seen everywhere but
paled in comparison to the sheer numbers of foraging Palm Warblers.
Hundreds of them everywhere! I also had my FOTS Eastern Kingbird
flycatching from a dead Slash Pine.
On Tuesday, March 24th I birded Tigertail Beach and a few other locales
on Marco Island with my birding old birding "pals" Jim & Patty Heflich
from Cleveland, Ohio. We started the day looking for an alleged Masked
Duck at Frank Mackle Community Park. My suspicions were correct and the
bird turned out to be a female Ruddy Duck -- one that has been there all
winter to my knowledge. Tigertail Beach held a few surprises. . . . The
three of us observed a very co-operative FOTS Semipalmated Sandpiper
standing next to a Western Sandpiper, which afforded great comparisons.
Among other field marks, the Semipalmated's bill was much shorter e.g.
about half of the length of the Western Sandpiper's and was much more
"tubular" without the Western's "droopy" effect at the bill's end. This
is the earliest date I've ever seen Semipalmated Sandpiper in Collier
County. All of the expected plovers, including Snowy Plovers were present
as well. Two banded Piping Plovers were seen. Yes, I recorded the banding
info and have sent it in to the proper authorities. As an aside, I
received word about another banded Piping Plover I observed at Tigertail
Beach on March 10th. That bird was banded in New Brunswick, Canada. Other
good birds at Tigertail Beach were a half-dozen Northern Gannets flying
out in the Gulf (not close to shore) as well as a very nice Peregrine
Falcon and a flyby adult Bald Eagle. Quite a few Burrowing Owls were seen
at various locations, especially Lamplighter Ct., on Marco Island.
On Wednesday, March 25th, Jim & Patty Heflich and I birded several
locations in Collier County. At Cecil Rd. off of Greenway Rd., we saw
four Western Kingbirds on the telephone wires that line the road. We
failed to find any Pine Warblers, Chipping Sparrows or Eastern Bluebirds
in the yard at the corner of Fritchey and Greenway Rds. but we found over
50 American White Pelicans, five Bald Eagles (3 subadults and 2 adults),
two Eastern Meadowlarks and the pair of Sandhill Cranes with one
youngster at the Fritchey Rd. Wetlands. This is the second year in a row
that the pair of Sandhill Cranes has raised young at this location.
The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk held many vocalizing Northern Parulas,
Red-eyed & White-eyed Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers, fly-over
Swallow-tailed Kites, Tufted Titmice, and Pileated Woodpeckers among
other birds. An Eastern Kingbird eating berries from a Gumbo Limbo near
the parking lot was my second sighting for this species in as many days.
In a small freshwater wetland along the stretch of U.S. Rte. 41 (Tamiami
Trail) going west towards S.R. 29, we found over a dozen Black-necked
Stilts as well as the usual waders and a pair of Greater Yellowlegs. A
Northern Harrier was also a nice sighting as were a pair of Eastern
Bluebirds perched on a wire on private property across from the Ochopee
Post Office -- reported to be the smallest such edifice in the USA. This
claim is disputed by some.
The Kirby Storter rest area held little in avifauna except for a male
Black-and-white Warbler, a few Tufted Titmice, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
and several Northern Parulas. An American Crow with a broken-off lower
mandible was an unusual sighting.
Loop Road, going through parts of Collier, Monroe & Dade Counties, held
no avian surprises, but Sweetwater Slough remains one of my all-time
favorite Florida locales for sheer "unspoiled" beauty. Basking alligators
were everywhere, some half on the road. An out-of-place Georgia Satyr
(butterfly) was a nice sighting. We did see a very co-operative Cooper's
Hawk perched in a tree at the Loop Road Environmental Research Education
Center at Pinecrest but little else of avian note. Nor could we turn any
of the several Southern Watersnakes into a Cottonmouth -- a snake Jim
sorely wanted to see and photograph. Sorry Jim!
Today saw Jim & I photographing odonates, leps, Mud Turtles and the
"blackist" Pond(?) Crayfish I've ever seen on Jane's Memorial Scenic
Drive in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. The rain made us cut
short our outing but we had a great time inspite of it.