Michael Marsden had taken Sally, Mike, and another Brit named Tim out to the Island on Sunday after a strong cold front Saturday night promised to down some migrants, and they had had a marvelous time! But the good news was that Michael had recommended they go out again today (and Keith concurred that migrants often hang around up to three days after a good front), and they were certainly game, as was I! Tim joined us today as well, so away we went, heading straight to the Convention Centre.
I dropped them off as parking was tight, and after I found a spot, I made my way back by way of the “circle bushes” (the area within the roundabout drive that is often good on fallout days), and before I met up with the gang I had already logged Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Tennessee Warbler, and a female Scarlet Tanager! When I finally found the crew in the back, they had already found a Bay-breasted and female Cerulean Warbler practically side by side (they got me on the latter but not the former), and Mike was shooting a brilliant Blackburnian Warbler practically at eye level! Baltimore Orioles were all over, as were the Indigo Buntings, and the gang informed me that the bird show was just about as good as yesterday’s but without the crowds! J
Indigo Bunting (also below)
Female Scarlet Tanager
Peek-a-boo Blackburnian Warbler
We didn’t even make it out to the Flats as we were so distracted by the migrants; an Ovenbird strutted around on the grass, and three thrushes (Veery, Swainson’s, and Gray-cheeked) all gave great comparative views! Somewhere in there the guys found a Worm-eating Warbler while Sally and I circled around to the back, and had a brilliant male Hooded Warbler come in! When we met up again, someone thought they had a Mockingbird, but a second look revealed it to be a Black-billed Cuckoo! The Lazuli Bunting had been seen again, but he didn’t come out while we were there… L A nice female Yellow-headed Blackbird gave good views, however.
Two shots of the Ovenbird
Female Yellow-headed Blackbird
Transitioning Indigo Bunting
Tim, Sally, and Mike enjoy the show while Scarlet (in the pink and black below) comes over to schmooze. Thanks to her and her volunteers' hard work and dedication, the tired birds have plenty of food and water waiting for them when they "crash" on the Island!
Veery (giving the "Mad Thrush" look below)
Blue-headed Vireo (above and below)
"Beakless" Hooded Warbler
From there we went on the boardwalk (Mike decided to stay at the Centre, but Tim wanted the Least Bittern J), and we enjoyed the regular birds in the east pond. A peep came in that Tim initially ID’d as White-rumped, but I figured it was a little early for Whiterumps and it struck me more as a Baird’s, but it took off before we could get the scope on it. Continuing to the end the female Least Bittern did come out for us, and a squadron of skimmers came in and put on a skimming show! The other boardwalk had a Sora out in the open (which Sally really wanted to see), and the mangroves were just swarming with migrants (most of which you couldn’t see in the “stuff”)! The best one was a Blackburnian Warbler that was working his way down the railing, snatching bugs as he went! Baltimore Orioles were all over (along with a few Orchards), and we did manage to catch sight of a Nashville and Tennessee Warbler. Out at the end Tim found us a female Red-breasted Merganser, which was nice. We had some nice butterflies as well that Tim was focusing on: the Great Southern Whites were all over, of course, but we also had the occasional White Peacock, and both Common and Tropical Buckeyes.
Female Great-tailed Grackle
Eastern Kingbird (above and below)
A few shots of the normally secretive Sora
Several shots of a Blackburnian Warbler that was working his way down the boardwalk!
Sally tries to shoot a Reddish Egret (below) at the end of the pier!
While out there I got an alert that a Black-throated Blue Warbler had been seen at Sheepshead, so we ran back to gather Mike and head over (but not before enjoying a big flock of Indigo Buntings in the lawn with a pair of Blue Grosbeaks in with them)! That target was long gone, unfortunately, but we did see some nice things, including lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a Black-throated Green Warbler. On the “sunny side” a Yellow Warbler kept coming in to the drip, which was a big hit for the guys! At one point I went to get sandwiches while they stayed behind, and when I came back they were all watching a Kentucky Warbler, which I missed, but we had seen the female last week, so I wasn’t too disappointed! J The guys had also seen a Yellow-breasted Chat while I was away…
Indigo Bunting mob with a token Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Undignified-looking Summer Tanager
Female Yellow Warbler - ho-hum to many, but a big hit for the Brits!
Baltimore Oriole working on an orange
From there I realized that we really needed to hit the Birding Center if we were going to get home on time, so we headed over, where a nice male Yellow-headed Blackbird greeted us! I ran into fellow Birder Patrollers Norma and Sue and some of the Big Sit folks, and after we checked in we saw Mary G. keeping watch along with Scarlet, and they had already gotten close to 130 species just in that one spot (including a Prairie Warbler)! We continued on the boardwalk, where we got distant views of Black-bellied Plover and Caspian Tern, but the Mottled Ducks were close along with the Common Gallinules, and even a big Clapper Rail came out in the open! Both Eastern and Western Kingbirds were fun to see side by side, and in the mangroves we found several Northern Waterthrushes; Tim spotted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which we later got great looks at. Swinging around the cleared area we had another Sora, plus several Pectoral Sandpipers (one liked to bully this poor Least Sandpiper), along with both Solitary and Spotted Sands. But this other peep came close and even flew around a little, and it was indeed a White-rumped Sandpiper (he was even close enough to see the diagnostic rusty base to the lower mandible)! So I reneged on my Baird’s… J
The gang enjoying birds from the Birding Center boardwalk
Tim scours the distant wetlands for goodies
Cooperative Clapper Rail
Dull brown shoulder separates Clapper from King Rail, which has a rusty shoulder.
Tricolored Heron in full breeding colors
Common Gallinule (check out those toes!)
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Immature Little Blue Heron (yes, really)
Yet another confiding Sora
We were surprised to see no Alligators, but going by the east pond in better light we added the Redheads and some Blue-winged Teal to the list. We also managed to find what we figured was the same subadult Yellow-crowned Night Heron we had seen last week! As we made our way back to the parking lot we got great looks at the “tower” Peregrine, and back at the car we had a little flock of birds where I saw some Lark Sparrows and Tim spotted a Chipping Sparrow, and it was one of those situations where you think you’re looking at the same bird (but you’re not) and start having a debate about it! J Another Dickcissel was in with them, so I think Mike finally got his shot! J There was a big flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds there, along with a ground squirrel that I’m pretty sure was Spotted (as opposed to the more common Mexican), as the spots weren’t in neat rows as in the Mexican.
(Check out the lobed toes!)
Peregrine Falcon catching a few zzz's
Spotted Ground Squirrel
Check out those claws!
We really had to take off after that, but I promised to make a reeely quick stop at the Hwy 48 Boat Ramp to try for the Oystercatcher. Dipped on that, but picked up Wilson’s Plover and two tern species for the day instead. A couple asking us about the Oystercatchers announced they had a Swallow-tailed Kite on the way up that morning, which caused some consternation amongst the group! J
Today’s list was the biggest yet (for me, anyway), and I added eight species to the list which the gang saw but I missed. Bird list:
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckMottled Duck
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler