Friday, 2 March 2012

Birding While Working in Tampa Bay

Today, March 2, 2012 I made my first trip to Fort De Soto in St. Petersburg.  I was only there a couple of hours, but saw a nice list of birds.

I arrived in Dunedin, on Wednesday and as soon as I was in my car, late in the afternoon after a long flight delay, I headed straight to Possum Branch Preserve and enjoyed looks at a Killdeer in the grass, a Savannah and Lincoln's Sparrow.  In addition to Red-winged Blackbirds and Cardinals I saw a white tailed rabbit and the now infamous Hispid Cotton Rat.  I guess I can add one more "rodent-y" thing to my list of "rodent-y" things for my year, bringing that total up to 3.  Before it got dark I drove to Moccasin Lake Nature Park hoping to find White-winged Doves.  Of course, no dice that evening or the next morning.  I expect to spend the next month not finding White-winged Doves, and have to drive even further than North Bay next winter to try and find them.

One interesting sight in that neighbourhood was people feeding the birds.  Not too strange, right?  But in Toronto, say, people feed bread to the Geese and Ducks.  Here in Florida - for better or worse - people bring bags of bread to feed Wood Storks and White Ibis, in addition to the Mallards.

Yesterday I took a drive out to St Petersburg to another nature park, Clam Bayou, in search of Chuck-will's Widow.  Of course bird chasing does not always get you the bird that you want, but sometimes you do get a bird or two that you need, to paraphrase The Rolling Stones.  I was able to spot a Short-billed Dowitcher in the shallows next to a sinking sail boat, (it seemed abandoned, so I did not have to dive in and rescue anyone - rats!)

Which brings us back to today.  I will be returning quite frequently to Fort De Soto, as it's an amazing birding location, especially during Migration, if you can't get to the Texas Gulf Coast.  In just a couple of hours I saw what follows.  There were a few other shorebirds I didn't list, but I didn't get a close enough look to confirm their identities.

Great Horned Owl - Mom and babies
Brown Pelican
White Pelican
White Ibis
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black Bellied Plover
Brown-headed Cowbird
Long-billed Curlew
Laughing Gull
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Mourning Dove
Common Ground Dove
Grey Catbird
Northern Mocking Bird
Palm Warbler
Common Grackle
Ruddy Turnstone

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