Solitary Sandpiper, etc. at St. Marks NWR
- About noon today Al and I scoped a Solitary Sandpiper on the pond
behind the Visitors Center at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
The bird was on a small island with many short dead sticks
protruding from the water, and one long stick. This is on the left
side of the pond, as you look out from the second-story deck, and
about halfway across to the opposite bank.
We noted the bird's bold white eye ring, with white extending
forward to the bill, its greenish legs, brown wings with white
speckles, and heavily streaked breast. The wings extended slightly
beyond the tail, and occasionally we saw the dark and white stripes
on the tail. It bobbed its body some of the time as it walked and
fed. We wonder if this is a very early migrant, or if the bird has
Just before the first of the twin bridges we saw a flock of Rusty
and Red-winged Blackbirds. They were feeding in the leaf litter and
tree bases, wherever they could find a dry spot.
We saw one Long-tailed Duck swimming with a group of Lesser Scaup
and a female Bufflehead at Picnic Pond.
At Mounds Pool #3, we studied several ducks as possible candidates
for being an American Black Duck, while wishing we had a closer view
with better light, but concluded we were just looking at Mottled
Ducks. As we walked back to our car, Al spotted an American Bittern.
We watched it for five minutes through the scope, as it assumed
its "I'm just another reed" pose, before flying off.
At Helispot, we saw a bird scurrying in front of us very mouse-like,
but never got a good look before it eluded us.
We were amused to see a Hermit Thrush feeding on the paved road just
beyond the Visitors Center when we arrived, and to see it feeding
there again 6 hours later. A most unexpected habitat!
At 2 PM yesterday, we found nothing in the water in front of the KOA
at Alligator Point, but about two-thirds of the way further down the
road, we saw an immature Surf Scoter and a Bonaparte's Gull on the
right (Alligator Harbor) side.
From 5 to 6:15 we scanned the marsh at Bottoms Road in Panacea, and
saw one, or perhaps two, Northern Harriers, but didn't see the Short-
eared Owl that was reported earlier.
Our thanks to everyone who has continued to post their sightings of
the above-mentioned birds in this area.
Spring Hill, FL