Wednesday, November 6: Flint Pen Strand
Water levels were down a little and just right for four White Pelicans to appear and forage in the marsh and the lake edges. They swam together as a group and swam back and forth in a narrow area about 20-25 yards long, ducking their heads under several times on each lap to scoop up prey.
Other waders were enjoying the abundant prey but used differing techniques. Roseate Spoonbills, White and Glossy Ibis, and Wood Storks swept their bills back and forth or probed in the water to locate prey; herons and egrets looked for prey and then lunged; and Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants stayed in deeper water in the canals and dove under water to find a meal.
Osprey and Belted Kingfishers spotted their prey from the air and splashed into the water to come up with it.
There were fewer Wood Storks than last week but more Roseate Spoonbills. They preferred the shallower marsh areas as in the photo at the top, but occasionally the spoonbills would take off as a group and fly to the shallows where the White Pelicans were. The spoonbills were mostly adults, but there were some juveniles mixed in with them. The juvenile on the left and the adult on the right seemed to be practicing synchronized preening.
It was extremely foggy in the early morning, almost to nine o'clock when the sun finally broke through. So not much was stirring in the pine flatwood or hammocks along the red and yellow trails.
Only two Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen and they were mostly silhouetted against the fog and gray sky. Even after the fog burned off, the sky was still mostly overcast.
The Peregrine Falcon at the left posed nicely, and would have been great in a photo if only there were blue sky behind it and bright sun overhead. But it was still a nice bird to find, even in bad light.
The most often seen of the 42 bird species were 32 Mourning Doves, 28 Roseate Spoonbills, 26 Killdeer, 20 Gray Catbirds, and 18 Greater Yellowlegs.
Last week there were 51 Wood Storks on the ground feeding, but this week there were only five; and last week 91 Least Sandpipers were counted but this week not one was seen. Water levels make a huge difference in optimal feeding conditions!
Earlier in the week, both the Great Horned and Barred Owls were seen, but not so today. The fog may have had something to do with that.
Only six species of butterflies were seen. As usual, White Peacocks were the most commonly found, followed by Gulf Fritillaries. Nice additional sightings were five Common Buckeyes and two Gray Hairstreaks.
Dragonflies were the regulars, too, and Halloween Pennants were again the most often seen. They really prefer the open areas in and around the marshes.
Friday, November 8: Corkscrew
The cold front hadn't made its way here yet, so it was another warm and humid day. Next week should be much better. Nevertheless, we did identify 36 species of birds even though it was relatively quiet.
Nothing was really out of the ordinary. The best warblers were Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-throated, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, and Palm.
We saw the Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe, and a pair of visitors from England who were excellent birders added an Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood Pewee to the overall flycatcher list. They also spotted a Swamp Sparrow along the Plume Hunter spur, but we couldn't count any of them since none of us saw or heard them. But they were there.
Both White-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos were present, but the most often seen species was the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Wherever there were warblers, there were gnatcatchers. There were quite a few Downy Woodpeckers, too, including three that were together by the north lake. A pair of Belted Kingfishers were active flying over and through the trees at the north lake.
The only raptors today were Red-shouldered Hawks, and there weren't a lot of them.
Although all of the feeders were filled, none of us saw any buntings today. Staff did come out during the week and clear the area below the Bunting House feeder, so we may start seeing more ground birds looking for spilled seed. Hopefully, the Ovenbird will reappear now that it's more clear.
Fifth graders on their field trip did the short loop and were looking for everything, especially gators. Three small ones were between the Box 5 bench and the stork gate at the north lake, which made everyone happy.
The kids had sharp eyes and found the Pig Frog at the left. It was between the lakes near the bee tree. The bees were active, and a Little Blue Heron was just beyond.
Additional herps that we added to our list included Green and Brown Anoles, Red-bellied Turtles below the observation platform, and Green Treefrogs. Mammals were just Raccoons and Gray Squirrels.
The main butterflies were just White Peacocks and Ruddy Daggerwings.
It doesn't have anything to do with Corkscrew, but I had a really nice sighting at my house on Thursday morning.
While walking through my bedroom, I glanced out the window and saw a Bobcat sitting in the yard. I got my camera and came back to the window and it was still there, so I got some nice photos of it sitting, looking toward the bird feeders in the front yard.
Apparently, nothing there interested it, so it stood and walked toward me and the back yard. It's just starting in the photo at the right.
A trail cam in the front yard got a video of it on Tuesday night, and this morning there was fresh scat in the middle of the driveway, so it must be finding ample prey to be hanging around for that long. I still see Cottontail Rabbits in the yard, so it hasn't gotten all of them, but I haven't seen any of the Hispid Cotton Rats under the feeders in a while.