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St. Marks NWR -- Sunday Morning

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  • Don Morrow
    Sorry for the late post. The refuge Sunday morning was hot, muggy and buggy. However, it was still worth the effort. Breeding plumage Spotted Sandpipers were
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 2, 2013
      Sorry for the late post. The refuge Sunday morning was hot, muggy and buggy. However, it was still worth the effort.

      Breeding plumage Spotted Sandpipers were scattered around the refuge. A Bald eagle was perching near the nest North of the lighthouse boat ramp.Belted Kingfishers and Ospreys are more common this week. There were Orchard Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds in the willows at the East River Pool boat ramp, where alligators were calling with a low, throaty outboard motor sound. I wasn't sure what they were saying, but it kept me on the pavement.

      The most action was at the Firetower Pond. Skimmers, Terns and Willets predominated, but there were lots of most species. High tide had concentrated the birds.
      Snowy Egret
      Tricolored Heron
      Reddish Egret
      Blue-winged Teal (only three)
      Black-bellied Plover (in every plumage variation)
      Semipalmated Plover
      American Avocet (single bird in winter plumage)
      Greater Yellowlegs
      Willet
      Spotted Sandpiper
      Marbled Godwit
      Ruddy Turnstone
      Semipalmated sandpiper
      Western Sandpiper
      Least Sandpiper
      Short-billed Dowitcher
      Laughing Gull
      Forester's Tern
      Black Skimmer


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    • Don Morrow
      An epic morning for Common Loon migration at the refuge. Paul Spitzer and I recorded 484 loons headed North. Weather radar showed a strong storm system just
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 6, 2014
        An epic morning for Common Loon migration at the refuge. Paul Spitzer and I recorded 484 loons headed North. Weather radar showed a strong storm system just across the Georgia line that resulted in 209 returning birds. Loons were streaming in both directions.

        Otherwise, Spring migration is a desultory affair so far. Two Cattle Egrets were sitting on the old pilings at dawn. Least Bitterns are now easily found near the lighthouse, where I also recorded Caspian, Royal, Forster's and Common Tern. High-flying duck flocks numbering in the hundreds were moving along the coast. Over the course of the morning I probably saw 2,000 ducks that all seemed to be scaup, but could have included Redhead flying at about 500 feet. I observed some of them spiraling higher and disappearing to the North. Buffleheads seem to be thinning out, but Red-breasted Mergansers are still much in evidence. Blue-winged Teal are common on several of the refuge ponds.

        Heading back on the entrance road, Black-necked Stilts are more evident, I saw about twenty. Lesser Yellowlegs seem to outnumber Greaters. I did not see the flock of dark ibis that has included up to fifteen White-faced Ibis, recently. Nick Baldwin sent me some great photos of the White-faced Ibis taken last week.

        I had a single Eastern Kingbird along the road and had Black&White Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Parula and Northern Waterthrush at the Double Bridges.

        Good Birding




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      • Jim Stevenson
        Good post, Don. I just wanted to mention that every spring (or fall) migration has its peculiarities. Often, birds will tend to bend toward the eastern or
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 6, 2014
          Good post, Don.

          I just wanted to mention that every spring (or fall) migration has its peculiarities. Often, birds will tend to bend toward the eastern or western Gulf, depending largely on steering winds. This year, so far, we in Texas are getting our turn. We’ve had huge numbers of eastern migrants, like parulas, Hoodeds and Louisiana Waterthrushes, plus many other birds more typically seen in Florida. However, as the winds change, the pendulum may swing and favor you guys in Florida.

          Today, in my yard, we had an absolutely mind-boggling day for this early, even with Blackburnian, many Tennessees and a Kentucky. It is not uncommon for a great day in Florida to come a day or two later than a bonanza in Texas, given the movement of frontal systems. Hope so.

          Now, to the dictionary to look up Don’s word, “desultory.” Hmmmm...

          Jim
          Galveston

          From: Don Morrow
          Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2014 7:11 PM
          To: nflbirds@yahoogroups.com
          Cc: robin_will@...
          Subject: [nflbirds] St. Marks NWR -- Sunday Morning


          An epic morning for Common Loon migration at the refuge. Paul Spitzer and I recorded 484 loons headed North. Weather radar showed a strong storm system just across the Georgia line that resulted in 209 returning birds. Loons were streaming in both directions.

          Otherwise, Spring migration is a desultory affair so far. Two Cattle Egrets were sitting on the old pilings at dawn. Least Bitterns are now easily found near the lighthouse, where I also recorded Caspian, Royal, Forster's and Common Tern. High-flying duck flocks numbering in the hundreds were moving along the coast. Over the course of the morning I probably saw 2,000 ducks that all seemed to be scaup, but could have included Redhead flying at about 500 feet. I observed some of them spiraling higher and disappearing to the North. Buffleheads seem to be thinning out, but Red-breasted Mergansers are still much in evidence. Blue-winged Teal are common on several of the refuge ponds.

          Heading back on the entrance road, Black-necked Stilts are more evident, I saw about twenty. Lesser Yellowlegs seem to outnumber Greaters. I did not see the flock of dark ibis that has included up to fifteen White-faced Ibis, recently. Nick Baldwin sent me some great photos of the White-faced Ibis taken last week.

          I had a single Eastern Kingbird along the road and had Black&White Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Parula and Northern Waterthrush at the Double Bridges.

          Good Birding



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Don Morrow
          It was 31 degrees at 6:15 am when I got to the refuge. The full moon was low in the Western sky and five planets were strung out across the ecliptic. It was
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 24, 2016

            It was 31 degrees at 6:15 am when I got to the refuge. The full moon was low in the Western sky and five planets were strung out across the ecliptic. It was beautiful, as the predawn often is at St. Marks. Great Horned Owls and Clapper Rails were calling and Bald Eagles began to fly as the sky brightened. It was a slow and steady day of birding. I logged 88 species, including sixteen duck species, before I left at 1:00 pm. Some highlights of the day were:

             

            Double Bridges

            Wood Duck (flock of ten feeding in the flooded woods)

            Woodpeckers (redbelly, downy, pileated, flicker and sapsucker)

            Carolina Chickadee

            Ruby-crowned Kinglet

            Blue-headed Vireo

            Pine Warbler

            B&W Warbler

            Rusty Blackbird (single male, foraging low)

             

            Headquarters Pond

            GW Teal (one pair)

            BW Teal

            Gadwall

            American Wigeon

            Ring-necked Duck

            Bufflehead

             

            Lighthouse Pond

            American Wigeon

            Canvasback

            Redhead ( I estimated 250)

            Ring-necked Duck

            Greater Scaup (mostly female)

            Lesser Scaup

            Bufflehead

            Ruddy Duck (one)

             

            Offshore

            Common Loon ( about forty)

            Horned Grebe

            Duck spp (lots of distant birds, likely scaup and redheads)

            Common Goldeneye

            Bufflehead (this is a good year for bufflehead, they’re abundant)

            Red-breasted Merganser

             

            There were hundreds of Tree Swallows foraging over East River Pool. With the low tide, there were few shorebirds. I had several otter sightings during the morning and saw a bolide, a daytime meteor, streak across the sky.

             

            Good Birding.

             

            Don Morrow

            Tallahassee, FL

             

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