Thursday, August 9: CREW Bird Rookery Swamp
The large Swallow-tailed Kite roost along the trail had been vacant for the last week and a half after the kites left for their migration to Brazil. However, this morning there were 23 kites back at the roost. This group may have been all juveniles prepping for their first migration south. Many were like the kite at the left with the shorter outer tail feathers suggesting that it is one of this year's fledglings. This group should be on its way soon as well.
Other birds doing their migration thing were arriving rather than departing.
The Prothonotary Warbler at the near left was foraging in a cypress tree; it was the only one of its species that was seen.
Other incoming warblers included five Black-and-white Warblers and three American Redstarts.
All of the redstarts were females and all were together as a group. The one at the top of the page is enjoying a caterpillar brunch. Stopping to eat was the only time they were ever in one spot for more than one second.
We also spotted one Northern Parula, but this week we didn't find any waterthrushes.
The most often seen birds were Red-bellied Woodpeckers followed by the 23 Swallow-tailed Kites, 17 White-eyed Vireos and 17 Black Vultures, and 15 Red-shouldered Hawks.
The most often seen of all species were 41 gators, followed by 32 Palamedes Swallowtails and 22 White Peacocks and then the birds.
We hiked a little farther into the swamp this week and were rewarded with a lot of uncommon dragonflies. In addition to the regulars, we counted eight Eastern Amberwings, six Calico Pennants, and five Halloween Pennants.
The only mammals were Marsh Rabbit and Gray Squirrel. The rabbit ran down the trail in front of us, and that little thing was surprisingly fast. It was much more of a run than hopping.
The number of Palamedes Swallowtails observed was much larger than normal. Part of that was that many were puddling in spots in the trail, gleaning minerals. the photo at the right shows five of them plus one Tiger Swallowtail at the back. Two more Palamedes Swallowtails were close but not in the frame of the photo. Tiger Swallowtails were puddling as well, but we only found 11 of them.
Other nice butterfly numbers in addition to the swallowtails and the White Peacocks were 15 Phaon Crescents, 10 Tropical Checkers, and 10 Viceroys. Other species were Great Southern Whites, Ruddy Daggerwings, Cloudless Sulphurs, Barred yellows, Fiery Skippers, and Least Skippers.
For those interested in finding butterflies, a page listing which species have been seen in Bird Rookery Swamp during each month, and the details with dates and numbers for each species, is available by clicking HERE.
Friday, August 10
The only warblers seen from the boardwalk today were waterthrushes. The pair of Louisiana Waterthrushes that chased each other around the north lake last week were back today and acting the same. The Louisiana Waterthrush at the left was at the south lake by itself and walked along the boardwalk railing, stopping to check below to see if there were any readily available prey below.
Other than Anhingas in the trees above the water, no water birds were low. A Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, and several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flew overhead, but all were well above the tallest of the cypress trees. However, Great Egrets were foraging in the swales along Sanctuary Road and one Green Heron was perched on a power line beside Sanctuary Road.
Other than White-eyed Vireos, Carolina Wrens, and Tufted Titmice, small birds were scarce. We did see several Yellow-billed Cuckoos, but they were higher in the trees and unless they moved or flew to another tree, very difficult to see.
Visitors were most excited to see gators. Several small ones were basking on fallen trunks between the first water gauge and the start of the shortcut trail, and each lake hosted a large gator.
The showiest sights were flowers, which didn't overly excite visitors. Numerous Swamp Lilies were in bloom, and the Ghost Orchid had several blooms and a few buds. Dappled sunlight made each of the blooms seem a little more vibrant. A few Scarlet Hibiscus still have fresh blooms, one or two Fragrant Water Lilies are in bloom, and more Pickerelweed have flower stalks.
Other than an occasional grunt from Pig Frogs, herps were quiet. One very small Green Treefrog and one very large Pig Frog were visible at the north lake, but most of the treefrogs were in the wet prairie past the start of the Plume Hunter spur. That's where the Green Treefrog at the left was.
We didn't see any snakes or turtles, and the only mammals were a Gray Squirrel on the shortcut trail and a Cottontail Rabbit by the Blair Center.