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Solitary Sandpiper, etc. at St. Marks NWR

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  • Bev Hansen <bevalhansen@earthlink.net>
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19 5:41 PM
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      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
      overwintered.

      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.

      Bev Hansen
      Spring Hill, FL
      bevalhansen@...
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