Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Leisurely Florida birding: day 2

This morning, from our Madeira Beach rental home, we were treated to great views of some pretty cool birds.
Firstly, an osprey perched up by the waterway at the back of the house with a considerable fish and proceeded to join us for breakfast and a smart adult yellow-crowned night heron, sat upon a post and posed nicely (as pictured). Meanwhile, a white ibis foraged on the lawn, more parakeets squawked around and a northern mockingbird sang from a telephone wire. Not too shabby. 

Once fed and watered we headed to Fort De Soto Park, a large island with excellent beaches and lots of mangrove. After a leisurely tour of the park by car, we had a picnic lunch and then we all went our separate ways for a few hours; I headed off into the bush in search of feathery entertainment (naturally), while Satty and Jen hired bikes and went exploring. Paul, rarely happier than when he has a baited rod at hand, spent the afternoon fishing.

Some of the areas were disappointingly quiet, though occasionally I would jam into active warbler flocks and with a bit of pishing, dig out a few nice birds. Yellow-rumped and palm warblers were especially numerous, one group of the latter species contained some 50 individuals! Among these commoner birds I saw a cracking blue-headed vireo, plus a few black-and-white warblers, pine warblers and singles of ruby-crowned kinglet and blue-grey gnatcatcher.     
A pair of northern cardinals provided a splash of gaudy colour.  
Both common and boat-tailed grackles were seen around the more inhabited areas of the park and the only sparrow I could find was a lone savannah.
The overhead wires provided ideal perches for a number of species and American kestrels, mourning doves, mockingbirds and loggerhead shrikes were reasonably plentiful, and an eastern phoebe was also seen.  
Common ground-doves were relatively common and a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers showed well. 
An impressive flock of some 80 or so American white pelicans was a great site, and other waterbirds seen included common loon, red-breasted merganser, American coot, moorhen (rumours indicate a possible split from the European form may be in the pipeline?), blue-winged teal, double-crested cormorant and lesser scaup. An anhinga was, as always, a pleasant treat.  
Most of the expected herons and such were seen in varying numbers, the commonest being great egret. A couple of tricolored herons made appearances, as did a solitary wood stork.  
Shorebirds were pretty thin on the ground, with just spotted sandpiper, ruddy turnstone, semi-palmated plover, western sandpiper, willet and sanderling seen. Laughing, ring-billed and herring gulls loafed on the beach alongside smaller numbers of Forster's and royal terns.
Oh, and Paul caught a catfish. I don't think he was too happy about that...

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