Wednesday, November 30, 2016

13th Annual Sanibel Lighthouse Hawk Watch

The Sanibel Lighthouse Hawk Watch with Vince McGrath has been an anticipated event for a number of years prior to leaving the state of Florida for what you might not believe a move of mine to the great white north.


The Osprey above (image 1) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

As crazy as it may sound I have become acclimated to observing birds again in a northern clime where I would have to travel many miles in Florida to see these species, if at all.


The Northern Rough-winged Swallow above (image 2) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The American Kestrel above (image 3) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

Vince's Hawk Watch was a few days later this year than last with weather conditions that appeared favorable for observations. The wind was from the northeast as I recall with it ideally from the northwest to funnel the raptors over Sanibel.


The Sharp-shinned Hawk above (image 4) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The Sharp-shinned Hawk above (image 5) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

A Merlin was an early raptor seen during the 16 Oct 2016 Hawk Watch. It was much too quick for me to photograph as it flew from the west and over San Carlos Bay. Swallows were present as well throughout the morning, but did not appear to outnumber those seen last year.


The juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker above (image 6) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The American Kestrel above (image 7) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

While the 2016 Hawk Watch was in conflict with the Ding Darling Nation Wildlife Refuge's annual Ding Darling Days, there was still good participation at the hawk event where I met with friends and acquaintances for hopefully not the last time.


The American Kestrel above (image 8) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The dog above (image 9) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

A highlight for most at the Lighthouse was the observation of an immature Red-headed Woodpecker. Vince noted this species' presence on nearby Cape Coral with it a very rare sighting on Sanibel.


The Peregrine Falcon above (image 10) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The Peregrine Falcon above (image 11) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

The appearance of a Sharp-shinned Hawk, with the male of the species typically the smallest hawk seen in the United States, was the highlight for me while observing and photographing the species for the first time.


The Cliff Swallow above (image 12) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.


The Chimney Swift above (image 13) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

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The Gopher Tortoise above (image 14) was photographed at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse in October 2016.

Friday, October 7, 2016

South to North

Thank you for your interest in this blog.


The juvenile Black Scoter above was photographed at Little Estero Lagoon in May 2016.

There will be a brief suspension of its publication during a long distance move with future reports from southern New England and beyond anticipated to be presented randomly. A pair of latent posts from Florida are expected as well.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Week In Siesta Key Overlooking Sarasota Bay

"Siesta Casa Coram Deo" was the home rented for a vacation with family this past week in Siesta Key, Florida.


The scene above (image 1) was photographed at Siesta Key in September 2016.

The house had great accommodations with stunning views of Sarasota Bay and downtown Sarasota. Observed over the bay throughout the week were countless Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Mourning Dove, a dozen or so unidentified crow species, a few Anhinga, a few Osprey, a few Little Blue Heron, four Black Skimmer, a pair of Great Blue Heron, a Tricolored Heron, and a Pied-billed Grebe. Incidentally observed in the trees were Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Tufted Titmouse, and a Yellow Warbler seen early and late in the week. Nanday Parakeet were heard on one occasion. Late in the week a Red-shouldered Hawk briefly landed on one of the boat pilings. A pair of Bald Eagle were also observed overhead on another day. Siesta Key Beach and Lido Beach offered good numbers of the expected shore and wading birds as well. A round at the highly recommended Buffalo Creek Golf Course in Palmetto added a Wood Stork, dozens of Black Vultures and notably more Nanday Parakeets. All this was without being preoccupied with birding with the exception of confirming the Yellow Warblers with binoculars.


The scene above (image 2) was photographed at Siesta Key in September 2016.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Feature: Sawgrass Lake Park Pt. II

Back at the main parking area at Sawgrass Lake Park, Tom Obrock and I chose to follow the birders seen earlier.


The Summer Tanager above (image 1) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

We would learn that the trees along the entrance to the park had warblers dripping off of them in preceding days. That was not so apparent initially, but waves of warblers did eventually pass through with the Cerulean Warbler making a reappearance. A Canada Warbler would make an appearance days later.


The Summer Tanager with prey above (image 2) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Black-and-white Warbler above (image 3) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow Warbler above (image 4) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow Warbler above (image 5) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

The size of Sawgrass Lake Park is ambiguous as its acreage is noted as 333, 390, and 400 acres at various websites while doing research for this article. In any event there are lakes, the Red Maple swamp, canals, wetlands, fields, and Live Oak Hammock that encompass the park.


The Yellow Warbler above (image 6) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 7) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 8) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 9) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Wildlife seen other than birds included the spider previously noted, a pair of Florida Softshell Turtles (Tom guesstimated the larger one at 60 years of age), numerous Eastern Gray Squirrels, a large skink, dragonflies, butterflies, aggressive mosquitoes in one small patch of the park, and Yellow Jacket wasps (benefiting a Summer Tanager as seen in image #2) that were stirred up by a fellow birder.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 10) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Blackburnian Warbler above (image 11) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 12) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 13) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

As of this writing there have been 215 bird species documented at Sawgrass Lake Park according to eBird data. JoAnna Clayton, a St. Petersburg Audubon Chapter volunteer, makes routine visits and racks up impressive eBird checklists at this park and other venues in the Tampa Bay area.


The Downy Woodpecker above (image 14) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher above (image 15) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Northern Parula above (image 16) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Limpkin above (image 17) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

In an effort to improve our list, we made another trek to the observation tower. On the way back we met up with several other birders observing a good number of birds near the bridge that accesses the boardwalk.


The Common Gallinule above (image 18) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Regal Darner Dragonfly above (image 19) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Anhinga above (image 20) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk above (image 21) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

I found the boardwalk to be very slippery, but its width possibly as wide or wider than the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary made up for that concern. The occasional passerby did not shake the boardwalk as much as occurs at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and other boardwalk venues I've been to.


The Anhinga above (image 22) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Anhinga above (image 23) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The scene above (image 24) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Hooded Warbler above (image 25) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Of the hundreds of venues on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Sawgrass Lake Park in the West Section should be considered one of the must visit Florida parks especially during migration. Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars if you have them.


The American Redstart above (image 26) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Blackburnian Warbler above (image 27) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Sawgrass Lake Park is open from 7:00am until sunset. It is closed the day after Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Day. From the north on I-275 take exit 26 or from the south take exit 26B and follow signs to the park.


The Yellow Warbler above (image 28) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Limpkin above (image 29) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

There is a lot of shade available at the park with a fortunate breeze making the five hours of my initial visit pass very quickly. A follow-up visit on my part to explore the Maple and Oak Hammock Trails is in order.


The Common Gallinule above (image 30) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

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The Downy Woodpecker above (image 31) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Please also see Feature: Sawgrass Lake Park Part I

Friday, September 16, 2016

Feature: Sawgrass Lake Park Pt. I

It required a single visit to Sawgrass Lake Park in Pinellas County to consider it one of my favorite wildlife venues in Florida.


The Anhinga above (image 1) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Sawgrass Lake Park, north of downtown St. Petersburg and southwest of Tampa, was created primarily to manage stormwater flooding in the adjacent city of Pinellas Park. A small waterfall in fact could be seen flowing into Sawgrass Lake while looking in the direction of Pinellas Park from the lake's observation tower.


The Blackburnian Warbler with prey above (image 2) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker above (image 3) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Common Grackle above (image 4) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

This park was not originally on my radar in early planning for a Fall migration trip from Fort Myers with birding bud, Tom Obrock. The initial thought was to make a trip to Miami's A. D. Barnes Park with unfavorable weather persistent, and then Fort De Soto Park considered with hopes of seeing migrating birds.


The Blackburnian Warbler above (image 5) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Blackburnian Warbler above (image 6) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Prairie Warbler above (image 7) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Trumpeter Swan, reported earlier at Eagle Lake Park immediately southeast of Clearwater, was on my mind when deciding at the last minute to make Sawgrass Lake Park the primary destination with its potential for something unusual. Hurricane Hermine had made impressive checklists at Sawgrass Lake Park in the days preceding our visit.


The Prairie Warbler above (image 8) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Prairie Warbler above (image 9) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Northern Parula above (image 10) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

It required a 5:00am departure from Fort Myers for Tom and I to arrive at the park shortly after sunrise. The traffic on I-75 seemed unusually heavy to me on this 6 September journey. Shortly before arriving at the park we approached what could have become a catastrophic accident on the interstate. I will be getting a dashcam soon.


The Black-and-white Warbler above (image 11) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow Warbler above (image 12) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Northern Parula with prey above (image 13) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

There were already a few cars parked at the visitor's facilities when we arrived. I noticed that a couple of people with binoculars and cameras were walking back toward the entrance to the park. They obviously knew something that we didn't.


The Northern Parula with prey above (image 14) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Northern Parula above (image 15) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Tufted Titmouse above (image 16) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Tom and I opted to traverse the boardwalk that meanders into the Red Maple swamp first. We soon found that the Maple Trail portion of the boardwalk was closed perhaps due to storm damage from Hurricane Hermine. A park worker advised that entering the closed area would result in a one year banishment from the park if caught.


The Worm-eating Warbler above (image 17) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Worm-eating Warbler above (image 18) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 19) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Shortly after passing the intersection of the Sawgrass and Maple Trails we encountered birds. Mainly Blackburnian Warbler which was a life bird for me. A Golden Silk Orb-weaver was motionless in its web in this area as well.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 20) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 21) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 22) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Continuing on to the observation tower resulted in an unexpectedly quiet walk. There was also a near complete absence of birds flying over the lake although many waders could be seen foraging on the far side with a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks perched on a distant fence. A scope would have been useful here.


The Yellow-throated Warbler above (image 23) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Hooded Warbler above (image 24) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.


The Red-eyed Vireo above (image 25) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

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The Summer Tanager above (image 26) was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park in September 2016.

Please also see Feature: Sawgrass Lake Park Part II