Friday, February 12, 2016

Florida Part 4 - Feb 3-4, 2016

I had only a bit of time for birding on my last two days in Florida but was able to get out and see some worthwhile stuff. On the afternoon of the 3rd Dori and I returned to the Zemel Road Landfill area for another shot at the two wintering SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS. They were right where we found them on the previous afternoon.



Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The next morning I made a point of running over to Cape Coral to check on some of their BURROWING OWLS before my flight home. Dori and I had something like 8 or so owls in one neighborhood.




Burrowing Owls

And that was it! A quick 5-day jaunt to the Fort Myers area. Some quality birding, a bit of relaxation, and plenty of sun. Looking forward to exploring this area a bit more during a future visit.

 - Nick

Monday, February 8, 2016

HERMIT WARBLER in CT

The Hermit Warbler that was originally found in Barkhamsted by Dave Rosgen on January 31st was relocated yesterday, February 7th. A search party of seven of us headed up this morning to spread out and scour the area of Dave's original one-off sighting, and [somewhat surprisingly] it did not take us more than an hour to relocate the bird! Fran Zygmont first spotted it just before 9am, and the warbler was observed pretty much constantly until Greg Hanisek and I left at 10:45am.

In the morning the bird seemed to prefer the riverbanks from the Route 318 bridge and immediately southward to the post office. Both west and east banks were used (mostly the sunlit west side), often foraging quite low...even on the ground at times. Later in the morning, as temps warmed up, it went a bit higher, and for several minutes it was seen foraging in the evergreens at the NW corner of the 4-way intersection that is immediately on the west side of the bridge (318 x 181/West River Rd).

As Dave mentioned in his initial report, this is likely a young male. It shows no signs of hybridization with Townsend's Warbler to my eye - the breast completely lacks yellow, it is only faintly marked on the rear auriculars, and the upperparts are gray with an olive tinge.

A huge Thank You and Congrats to Dave Rosgen for the great find, a second state record if accepted by ARCC.








Hermit Warbler
 - Nick

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Florida Part 3 - Feb 2, 2016

The last time I visited Dori, three years ago, we spent a day along Miami Canal Road in Palm Beach County where we had a blast studying Red-tailed Hawks that included a few of the "Krider's" form. Check out that post for many photos of those birds. I was itching to return this year to see what was around. On this day we found nine species of raptor along 15 miles of this road (not counting the two vulture species, nor the Crested Caracaras we had on the ride there), including a few more "Krider's"-like Red-tails.

This road is a ton of fun to bird. I'd highly recommend a winter visit to anyone who is looking for a change-of-pace from the usual south Florida hotspots.

I'm not going to get into the detail I got into last time, but here are a few images of the pale Krider's-like birds. We also had several typical Eastern Red-tails.









Dori's favorite birds of the day, a pair of White-tailed Kites were actively hunting on both sides of the canal.




White-tailed Kites (one with prey)

We also had an all-too-brief flyby of a dark SWAINSON'S HAWK.

Swainson's Hawk going away

As an extra bonus, several of the fields adjacent to the canal were flooded thanks to heavy rain from the week before. In fact, the entire month of January was unusually rainy in south Florida. In some of those fields were many long-legged waders and shorebirds. We counted 86 STILT SANDPIPERS among some 900 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS in one particular field; both of those counts were flagged by eBird. Four ROSEATE SPOONBILLS were also a nice surprise for this location, which, per Dori, should be dry at this time of year.

Anyway, check this place out; it's great if you enjoy raptors. It would be worth the visit for the Red-tails alone. I'd love to spend more time exploring other roads in this part of the state...perhaps next visit.

On the ride back towards North Fort Myers we checked a couple small parks (Limpkins, Wood Storks, etc) and finished at the Zemel Road Landfill in Punta Gorda. The targets at the landfill were two wintering SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, which we found pretty easily associating with one another (photos will be in next post). An AMERICAN BITTERN foraging along the landfill perimeter fence seemed a bit out of place.

Roseate Spoonbills

Limpkin

American Bittern

Wood Stork
 - NB

Monday, February 1, 2016

Florida Part 2 - Feb 1, 2016

Today I spent a few hours on Sanibel Island, mainly just walking the beach westward from the lighthouse. There was a red tide here last week which resulted in many dead fish and shellfish being washed ashore. This has resulted in good numbers of shorebirds and gulls on the beach. During my walk today it appeared that the bulk of the food had already been consumed, but there were a few bits still available. The highlights were a single SANDWICH TERN (no photos) and a nice count of 14 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS. Here are some photos from the morning.

LBBGs:

probably ~4th cycle

2nd or 3rd cycle

2nd or 3rd cycle

1st cycle

1st cycle

1st cycle

And others:

Royal Tern

Royal Tern
Ruddy Turnstone

Sanderling
 - NB

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Florida Part 1 - Jan 31, 2016

After an uneventful flight from CT to Fort Myers, FL this morning I dropped off my things at friend Dori Sosensky's place and headed straight for Bunche Beach, the recent hangout of an AMERICAN FLAMINGO. The flamingo has been frequenting the beach here for about a week, though its visits have been intermittent. As nobody had pinned down any alternative locations, I figured my best bet was to hang around Bunche for a while if the bird wasn't there when I arrived. Well, it wasn't there at 1pm when I arrived. Knowing the bird had, on prior days, been seen flying in from the north-ish, I was tempted to leave and search for it elsewhere. I don't like to hang around in one spot and wait for a bird if I don't have to. Luckily I didn't have to test my patience for very long, as I saw the flamingo fly in from the north at 1:40pm. It settled into one spot offshore where it roosted in shallow water by itself for the ensuing few hours. It was still in the same place when I left.





American Flamingo

This is the first flamingo species I've seen anywhere, so this was especially satisfying...particularly after missing this bird in Florida a couple times before.

The beach wasn't especially birdy, but there were some things to see. Two white morph REDDISH EGRETS were fun to watch. One of these birds was carrying a rather obvious satellite transmitter on its back, but it went about its business as usual despite the backpack.



Reddish Egrets, this one with satellite transmitter (and metal leg band, not visible here)

And other flybys...

Osprey with fish

first cycle Bonaparte's Gull

 - Nick