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the lovebugs owned the campsite

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  • Harry Hooper
    Good morning NFLbirders, My apologies for such a late posting. I should have written last Sunday evening, but for the lovebugs messing with my tent requiring
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
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      Good morning NFLbirders,

      My apologies for such a late posting. I should have written last
      Sunday evening, but for the lovebugs messing with my tent requiring a major
      cleaning and prepping for going right back on the road for the week, I
      never had the opportunity to write.

      Finally after receiving a release from my surgeon, I had shoulder
      (rotator cuff) surgery back on July 1st, I headed over to Three Rivers State
      Park (southwest shore of Lake Seminole, Jackson County) to camp, kayak
      and bird. Due to the injury (workman's comp related), I haven't had my
      boat in the water nor camped since last December. Arriving early last
      Saturday and to find my assigned site open, the tent went up and I was
      on the water by 10. Unfortunately, with Rita arriving on the Texas /
      Louisiana coast that morning, the winds on the lake were out the
      southeast 10 to 15 kts (closer to 15 steady with whitecaps) making my
      paddling on the lake's western shore a little more strenuous. Though I
      planned to paddle 5 to 6 miles north along the western shore, mostly exposed
      to that wind, I didn't want to stress the shoulder the first time out
      and decided to paddle smaller somewhat protected channels including the
      submerged pecan grove about a mile and a half north.

      The birding was somewhat quiet, 21 species on the lake but with some
      neat discoveries. An American Bittern flew within a few hundred feet
      croaking as it passed, a Least Bittern flew from the cattails plucking
      insects off of the lotus pads. And then there were the two Purple
      Gallinules, one adult and one juvenile, and not together, one species I
      didn't
      expect to see this late in the season. The lake though is, I believe
      in a very degraded condition. Though the hydrilla was thick in places
      when I paddled the same areas over a year ago, this noxious plant
      engulfed the entire western shore and for hundreds of yards offshore this
      year. The water hyacinth has also taken a major foothold on the lake.
      And not a gator to be seen. These are not good signs for this lake.
      And maybe this is why the waders were far and few between this time.
      According to park personnel, though the dollars are there to spray the
      exotics, the Corps has not proceeded to control these exotics this
      year. This side of the lake appears to be in bad shape.

      Birds on the lake were:
      - Blue-winged Teal; 35, all females or juvs.
      - Anhinga; 3, (1 male, 2 females).
      - American Bittern; 1
      - Least Bittern; 1
      - Great Egret; 6
      - Tricolored Heron; 1
      - Cattle Egret; 1
      - Green Heron; 4
      - Turkey Vulture; 2
      - Osprey; 1
      - Bald Eagle; 1 adult
      - Red-shouldered Hawk; 1
      - Purple Gallinule; 1 adult, 1 juv.
      - Common Moorhen; 100+ adults, 20+ juvs.
      - American Coot; 6
      - Belted Kingfisher; 1 female
      - Blue Jay; 1 heard
      - American Crow; 8
      - Northern Mockingbird; 1
      - Common Yellowthroat; 1 male
      - Northern Cardinal; 1 male

      Arriving back at camp around 12:30, I discovered that the campground
      was overrun with uninvited guests. Millions if not billions of lovebugs
      in their crazed swarms. Opening the tent door, no matter how carefully,
      invited hundreds in, trying to sit peacefully and read, dozens would
      crawl on exposed skin, food and drinks had to be covered unless you
      desired a little more protein. I have seen swarms of these flies before,
      but nothing like this. My white coolers were black in lovebugs as they
      congregated on the surface moisture. They definitely owned the
      campground.

      But by 4:30, with very slightly cooler temperatures and a slight
      reduction in those uninvited guests, I decided to bird the nature trail
      leading away from the campground. Just a few hundred feet into this
      beautiful hardwood hammock yards from the lake shore, I discovered a small
      area congregated with several species. A Blue-winged Warbler had me
      guessing for a few minutes as it acted as if it was a waterthrush, skulking
      on or near the ground. Disappearing behind some low vegetation for a
      few minutes just created more mystery about this canopy species. Then,
      popping up onto an exposed branch, totally disheveled, not even looking
      like its species, I realized it had just bathed as it began several
      minutes of preening, 30 feet from the trail. After this beautiful little
      warbler completed its personal hygiene and flew to parts unknown, a
      Carolina Wren, a female Common Yellowthroat and a Black & White Warbler
      all popped up to the same branch, one at a time, each very ragged looking
      and
      preened. This little puddle just off the trail appeared to be the
      community bath for that evening. After the Black and White flew, I
      realized I was standing in one place for nearly thirty minutes engrossed in
      this mixed species activity. A nice late afternoon experience. I
      continued to walk the nature trail that evening and early the next morning.

      Species seen were:
      - Common Moorhen; heard several on the shore of the lake
      - Red-bellied Woodpecker; 2 males, 1 female, 1 juv. plus heard several
      - Downy Woodpecker; 1
      - Hairy Woodpecker; 1
      - Empid; Acadian? 2
      - White-eyed Vireo; 4
      - Red-eyed Vireo; 1
      - Blue Jay; 1
      - American Crow; heard several harassing an unknown species
      - Carolina Chickadee; 4
      - Tufted Titmouse; 4 plus heard several
      - Carolina Wren; 5 plus heard several
      - Blue-winged Warbler - 1
      - Northern Parula; 4
      - Yellow-throated Warbler - 2
      - Pine Warbler; 3
      - Black & White Warbler; 2
      - Worm-eating Warbler -1
      - Common Yellowthroat; 3 females
      - Northern Cardinal; 12 (4 males, 8 females), plus heard many

      And one very beautiful Luna Moth perched on the underside of a vine
      leaf 10 feet off the trail on Sunday morning.

      Good birding to all!

      Harry Hooper
      Tallahassee, Florida
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