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“Attention”

PSA

To better keep this blog up to date, every now and then I have to go back and do some house cleaning. And to do that I have to delete pictures from older posts. You see Word Press, which is the service I use to create and perform all of my blogs functions only allow me free of charge, 3.0 GB of media space. Once I reach that point I have 2 options. I can either delete older photos, or buy more space on an annual basis. Since I’m more of a budget minded individual I opted for deletion. So as of today if you go back to older posts prior to October 2012 there will be no pictures associated with them.

I hope this won’t be a problem for anyone, and if you want to see anything in particular from an older post, just drop me a comment and I’ll dig up the photos and pass them along.

Thanks Les H.

A Day Of Rarities

Not knowing what Kathy had in store for me tomorrow, I had to make the best out of today and get in as much birding as possible. My first stop was Fish Haul Creek Park where upon arriving a large group of birders were unloading and gathering. Wanting to get out to the beach before this large crowd I hurried along the trail to the waters edge. It was a beautiful morning after that strong front came through yesterday, however the winds were very strong and the skies blue, so all was well from a birding aspect.
American Oystercatchers, Black-bellied Plovers, Northern Harrier, Black Skimmers were some of the better birds seen. Both blue and white morph Little Blue Herons were seen unfortunately no pictures. However the bird for the morning were the 2 Piping Plovers. This is the third time I”ve been here during this time of year, and just like clockwork the Piping Plovers show up.
I was having no luck with Saltmarsh Sparrows so I started to walk back when the birding group passed me. I said hello to them and continued to walk. A lady who was bringing up the rear stopped me and we started to talk. It seems they were from the local Audubon Society and this is their month outing. Well after a few minutes of your normal bird talk, we got on the subject of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Well to make a long story short, her and her husband were able to hook me up with a really good location of these birds just and hour or so from where I was staying in Sun City.
The location is called Webb Wildlife Management Area in Garnet South Carolina.
The ride was through some very rural parts of South Carolina, so when I arrived needless to say I was anxious to get going. As you drove down the long, gravel drive you couldn’t help but notice the trees that are marked as nesting trees for the woodpeckers. But there were no woodpeckers. Except for a lone Pileated and Red-bellied there wasn’t a whole lot of action. That was until I heard a chip note off to my right. I “pish” a few times. Up jumps a sparrow. But not just any sparrow, a Bachman’s Sparrow. Holy cow I never expected anything like this. I never took the time to even reached for my camera, I was just looking at this awesome bird. It then disappeared as quick as it came. I worked the area for a few more minutes without success, so it was back to finding a woodpecker.
I traveled up and down the road, stopping and looking into the trees for a long time until I decided that maybe I needed to walk back into the woods and try my luck that way since nothing else was working.
So I parked the car and set out on foot. I walked several hundred feet back to where I noticed a deer stand and a family of Eastern Bluebirds. I continued to walk when I must have spooked up this woodpecker. And there it was flying away from and into the woods. Unmistakable ladder back, small size. Everything indicating a Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
This trip has been epic so far and after today I really don’t know how to top this from a birding point of view. Totally satisfied. I’m sure I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I can’t imagine another life bird. Everything else now is just gravy.

“On The Road”

On my last full day in Florida I made the 1 hour drive to the Gulf of Mexico and doomed birding at St. Andrew State Park. This is one of the parks I had read about on the Florida Birding Trail website, and I was it was one of the locations they recommended to be able to see a Gray Flycatcher. So I set the GPS to the park and made my way pretty easily after battling the rush hour traffic.
It was a beautiful park and I could see in my mind why it would be a perfect place for Gray Flycatchers, however not this day. Besides the normal wading birds I had some pretty good warbler activity. Mongolia, Black & White, American Restarts and Yellow-throated Warblers were pretty active. But without a doubt the Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Blue Jays were the dominate species not just in this park but all throughout the south.
So toady was another moving day for this vacation as we made our way to the Hilton Head area. And as usual I wasalwa5s on the lookout for any new birds for the trip, and I was able to tick off White Ibis and Cattle Egret.
So with 2 full days here near the coast again I’m going to try and take advantage of my time and get some good birding in. Tomorrow I will visit the Fish Haul Creek area and probably Pickney Island NWR. At neither location I expect to see anything new, however Piping Plovers are now here and they are such great birds that I hope to get some good photographs. As long as I can get relatively close enough.
More to come.

On The Road With 2 New Life Birds

Gulf Islands National Seashore is located on Okaloosa/ Santa Rosa Island, and situated between Destin and Fort Walton Florida. Despite the commercialisation of the wesrwen side of the island, the eastern portion was where my focus was yesterday as I pulled into the parking lot that sits at the foot of Destin Bridge. When I found out that Snowy Plovers nested on this island I knew that I had to make a decent effort to tick off this bird.
Despite a few fisherman I had the whole place to myself as I set off at about 7:30. I was at the far eastern part of island and working my way around the edge due to the fact that the interior was closed off. We have to remember that threatened species nest here so great care is taken to keep 2 and 4 legged animals out.
As I walk the edge I’m seeing Willets, Sandwich, Royal, and Common Terns. A single Ruddy Turnstone, Black Skimmers, and several Peregrine Falcons make for some breath birding. No Snowies yet. I knew they were small and their winter plumage made them difficult to see, but I was beginning to worry that I was going to dip on them.
My head was on a swivel as I worked this stretch of beach. Then I turned around one more time and noticed movement about 15 feet from me. There they were, 2 of them. They blended in so well you might just walk right past them without noticeing.
Well I must have followed them for 30 minutes taking pictures and just looking at how small and cute they were.
I”ll post pictures upon my return.
After leaving the area my next stop, which came highly recommended, was the Fort Walton land fill. As long as you obey their rules a very birder friendly place. I scoped out a holding pond where Common Moorhen, American Coots, and Pied-billed Grebes swam. A lone Snowy Egret really stood out as I noticed several strange ducks swimming far off. I”ve still not been able to I’D them yet, so more to come on that.
I drove further back onto the land fill and pulled over to walk this sandy road that paralleled a fence row. Most of the birds I was seeing were Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers, Northern Mockingbirds, White-eyed Vireos, and a lone American Kestrel. It was during my return to the car when I spooked 2 very small, brownish birds off their roost, across the path in front of me, and onto another tree on the other side. I was shocked to see that they were Common Ground Doves. I got back on them and was able to make a better ID, but they quickly disappeared before I could pull my camera out.
Time for the happy dance!
My goal this vacation was 1 new life bird, and now that I scored 2 of them, everything else was gravy. So were on the road again this morning making our way to the Panama City area and one more chance to do some Florida birding before we”re off to Hilton Head.
Stay tuned, more to come.

On The Road

After a nice leisurely breakfast we set off out of Hattiesburg and pointed the bird mobile south. But before we could even get out of town we had to make a stop so Kathy could pick up a University of Southern Mississippi t-shirt. Which turned out to be pretty good from a birding prospective when I picked up Fish Crow calling from behind the store. It happened to show up beside the store as we were leaving but within camera at the ready no photo proof.
Birding by car can always be a challenge as Kathy reminded me as I was watching this Red-headed Woodpecker fly across my path and landed on a telephone pole.
During a stop at a rest area we were greeted by several Boat-tailed Grackles as they mooched for hand outs. SeverAl more birds were added to my vacation list as we made out way to Destin. Osprey, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican were all seen from the comforting the car.
More casual birds were added after we settled into our room and went for a stroll along the beach. Plenty of Laughing Gulls and Sanderlings with a very cooperative Royal Tern.
Tomorrow will be the big day with me heading out trying for Snowy Plover. Wish me luck.

Addendum

We all like small, unexpected, birding experiences. This morning while having a cup of coffee while lounging in the lobby of the hotel, I noticed a dove that just didn’t seem right. So I got up from the table and wandered outside to check it out. Walking around the property I noticed an open field where a couple of Killdeer were feeding, but no doves.
Making my way back towards the hotel I noticed a lone dove fly down to the ground by one of the hotels side entrances. This was no Mourning Dove. The first thing I noticed about this bird was the white edges along the tail, and the small black cresent collar. Classic Eurasian-collared Dove. Then I noticed another one sitting in a tree, so now I see a chance to get some photos. So I hurried off to the room, picked up my camera, and snapped off some good shots at these very approachable birds.
So let’s add 2 more birds to the trip list
Killdeer
Eurasian-collard Dove