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  • Vincent Lucas
    All: 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 27, 2003

      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.

      Good birding!

      Vincent Lucas
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