September 12-18

Wednesday, September 16: Bird Rookery Swamp

The morning didn't go quite as planned, but it was still a wonderful hike.

The original plan was to go in about four miles before returning. However, near TM3, a little over two miles in, there was a wardrobe malfunction when the sole of one shoe separated from the top. I took the shoe string off, cut it into two strands, and tied the two parts of the shoe together. That was good enough to get me back to the parking lot.

In spite of that, 28 species of birds were still seen. The prize of the day was the immature Mississippi Kite at the right. It was perched at the top of one of the snags that the Swallow-tailed Kites use during their pre-migration roost.

When first seen from a good distance, my original thought was, "That has to be the palest Red-shouldered Hawk I've ever seen." It wasn't until I got closer, almost beneath it, that I realized it wasn't a Red-shouldered Hawk.

The southern boundary of the Mississippi Kite range stops in the Florida panhandle, so this bird was really roaming far from where it should be. Maybe it came down to escape the turmoil with Hurricane Sally in its home range.

Other good sightings included four Ovenbirds, a Solitary Sandpiper, a Limpkin, and a Belted Kingfisher. We've heard what we thought were Kingfishers previously, but today was the first visual to confirm their presence.

I was at BRS again on Friday, but to collect and remove construction debris from the boardwalk project. The only new species along the boardwalk on Friday was the Barred Owl. Two of them were deep in the cypress doing their monkey calls.

Mammals seen on Wednesday included a River Otter, two White-tailed Deer, and Gray Squirrels. There was fresh Bobcat scat in a couple of places, but no visible Bobcat.

With all of the recent rain, water was up everywhere -- four inches since last Friday in Bird Rookery. Water was over the trail in places that are usually dry. Some visitors said there were some really deep washouts between TM3 and TM6, but one really large gator had parked itself in the middle of the trail there so they turned back.

The water was ideal for frogs. Uncommon visuals were Green Treefrogs, Cuban Treefrogs, and one Southern Leopard Frog. The treefrogs were very tiny. They're frequently heard, but not often seen.

Pig Frogs were the most common of the herps. All were calling at different times during the morning, but none were seen.

Only two gators were seen on the parts of the trails that I walked, and neither were very large.

Most of the dragonflies spotted were Eastern Pondhawks, both male and female. Other species were Needham's Skimmers, Blue Dashers, and one Carolina Saddlebags.

Butterflies were more common with eight species identified. White Peacocks were the most frequently seen followed by Palamedes Swallowtails. The panel of photos below show three of the species: Monarch (three were seen), Cloudless Sulphur, and Palamedes Swallowtail.

The butterflies were feasting on nectar with lots of Spanish Needles and Pickerelweed in bloom along the side of the trail