Thursday, May 10, 2018

One Last Migrant Fix


It took a little doing, but I finally convinced Dave and his wife Floy that we should hit the Island today, as a mild front went through the night before and winds were still from the north, so fallout conditions should be good!  (He was reticent throughout our correspondence as they had reservations out there after they left the Inn, but after explaining that the winds would be coming out of the south by the time they got there and that the migrants would probably just blow right over, and Thursday promised to be “The Big One,” they reneged…) 

But when we got to the Convention Centre and started walking through the “central area” (the place was so packed we had to use the “real” parking lot), there wasn’t a bird to be seen, and I started to sweat that I had heightened their expectations for nothing! L  But thankfully there were at least a couple of Indigo Buntings feeding amongst the whistling ducks, and a guy already there drew our attention to a Sora hanging out with them!

Friendly Sora

Even the water feature was slow with just a Catbird holding forth, but after using the restroom Floy came and joined me at the railing, and we got to wondering why Dave was taking so long in the men’s room!  Shortly he came after us and said, “You gotta see this!”  When we got to the back he said, “Where’d they all go?!”  Turns out he had been waylaid by all the Baltimore Orioles hogging the oranges, which had now been taken over by grackles!  But a little waiting paid off, and gradually we got great looks at the regular suspects, including the female Cape May Warbler!  A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak came down to an orange, which was an ABA bird for them! 

We had a very odd Baltimore Oriole that was more yellow than orange, making him look almost like a Scott's Oriole!

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak; note the "kiss of pink" at the shoulder!

The female Cape May Warbler hasn't left!

We ran into my friend Baceliza again who said that the Black-throated Blue Warbler was showing well on the boardwalk, so we decided to head out there.  There was indeed a lot of action (including running into all my friends again J), but it was tough to see things in the mangroves; we did get skulking views of the Blue, along with a Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Black-and-white, a female Hooded, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Yellow-throated chowing down on a butterfly!  But the star for many was the male Golden-winged Warbler that showed very briefly!  Out on the end we enjoyed Oystercatchers, a nice breeding-plumaged Least Sandpiper, two Spotted Sandpipers, a Northern Waterthrush that was upstaged by a Tricolored Heron, and the piebald Reddish Egret driving out an intruder!

Dave joins the rest of the mob waiting for a warbler to grant them a photo op!

This Yellow-throated Warbler was the only one that cooperated with me...

On the pier, a pair of Oystercatchers joins the resident piebald Reddish Egret in finding lunch!

Least Sandpiper

On the way back I heard a Least Bittern, and Dave expressed an interest in seeing it, but then thought better of it when there were migrants to chase!  By that time we were already at the “east pond”, so we checked it out, and thankfully the shorebirds were close enough to identify, including his life White-rumped Sandpiper!  Back at the Center we spent extended time at each “station”, picking up a cooperative Gray-cheeked Thrush and Kentucky Warbler at the water feature, a female Summer Tanager, the continuing Louisiana Waterthrush, and a cuckoo that got away (I didn’t see any rufous in the wings, but it just darted off too fast)…  Some other folks said they had a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, so I went over to try and confirm it (Dave was glued to the fence at the water feature J), but all I could find and comfortably ID was a Least Flycatcher near the top of the foliage.  I did see an empid that had very little (if any) contrast between the face and throat, but it looked very pale below, so it could have been a worn bird, but I just didn’t feel comfortable calling it as such.  At one point we sat on a bench in the “back yard” and enjoyed both Indigo and a Painted Bunting pair, along with a fairly cooperative Magnolia Warbler, and I noticed that Floy was sketching while Dave shot photos; turns out she’s quite the artist with her own website!

Stilt Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Tennessee Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Indigo Bunting
Floy creates a sketch journal of her observations...

Drawings (above and below) ©2018 Floy Zittin

We opted to eat lunch and then head over to Oleander, but on the way to the parking lot all those birds that were missing when we first arrived suddenly showed up, and we had point-blank looks at an Acadian Flycatcher, a lovely Blue-headed Vireo, and more thrushes bouncing along on the ground!  While we munched in the lot we of course attracted the attendant Laughing Gulls (and they had great looks at hundreds of their life Franklin’s Gulls going over), but the killer was the pair of breeding-plumaged Ruddy Turnstones that also came in seemingly wanting a handout! J 

Acadian Flycatcher

Swainson's Thrush

Mob of Cattle Egrets on the way out

Ruddy Turnstone looking for a handout

We then rolled over to the drip at Oleander and miraculously got the last parking spot, but had to kindly ask some folks who were actually walking around the fence area by the drip to please come back and watch from a distance, and it was amazing how the birds just flocked in after the people left the area alone!  Dave and Floy’s life Dickcissel sang and called in a tree right overhead (was tough to see, but they spotted it), and as we waited we had great looks at Ovenbird, American Redstart, three kinds of thrush (including Wood), Hooded Warbler, Yellowthroat, and a Northern Waterthrush that practically sat on us!  Juan Sebastian wandered in with my three Dutch friends from the last three days, and about that time a vireo came in that at first glance looked like a Philadelphia to me, but then a bird flew to the other tree that was clearly a Warbling Vireo, so I figured it was just one of those bright birds.  But then there was still a bird in the tree close to us, and when it came out, it was a Philadelphia Vireo, and it eventually almost landed on us!  What looks!  (As an aside, I found out later from Keith that my condensed names for some of these things, like “Philly,”  “Buffie,” “Hoodie,” and TV, caused much mirth amongst the Dutch folks… J)

Friendly Northern Waterthrush

Not so friendly Ovenbird...

Philadelphia Vireo (aka "Philly")

Wood Thrush

American Redstart

We finally tore ourselves away from there and headed over to Sheepshead, and thankfully it was overcast so we could enjoy the north side in relative comfort!  A Red-eyed Vireo hopped around almost close enough to touch, and both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles were out the yin yang!  Several Parulas were around, and on the south side we had a pair of Black-throated Green Warblers practically sit on us as well!  But the star was a knockout gorgeous male Western Tanager that showed up!  Ho hum for my charges from California, but exciting for us! J  I was also surprised to hear a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher buzzing this late!  Dave enjoyed the Golden-fronted Woodpecker trying to raid the hummingbird feeders…

Baltimore Oriole

His rusty cousin the Orchard Oriole

Northern Parulas were never far from an orange!

This little Red-eyed Vireo was so cute that I couldn't decide which pictures to use!

You can actually see the red eyes in this one!

This Western Tanager caused a lot of excitement!

Black-throated Green Warbler

Dave was getting “saturated” by then (and the sun had come out, and that north side can be brutal in the heat), so we sat on the bench while we checked IDs of birds he had seen the day before, then decided to come home while discussing birding options for them on their own for the rest of their stay.  (I would be curious to hear what the migrant action would be during their stay there at the Island with the strong south winds!)  We did well with almost 100 species for the day!  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                      
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Brown Pelican                        
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Reddish Egret                        
  Cattle Egret                         
  Green Heron                          
  White Ibis                           
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Oystercatcher               
  Spotted Sandpiper                     
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Lesser Yellowlegs                    
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Least Sandpiper                       
  White-rumped Sandpiper               
  Laughing Gull                        
  Franklin's Gull                      
  Least Tern                           
  Caspian Tern                         
  Royal Tern                           
  Black Skimmer                        
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Chimney Swift                        
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird            
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Crested Caracara                     
  Eastern Wood-Pewee                   
  Acadian Flycatcher                   
  Least Flycatcher                     
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Couch's Kingbird                      
  Eastern Kingbird                     
  Blue-headed Vireo                    
  Warbling Vireo                       
  Philadelphia Vireo                   
  Red-eyed Vireo                       
  Barn Swallow                          
  Cave Swallow                         
  Marsh Wren                           
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                 
  Gray-cheeked Thrush                  
  Swainson's Thrush                    
  Wood Thrush                          
  Gray Catbird                         
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Louisiana Waterthrush                
  Northern Waterthrush                 
  Golden-winged Warbler                
  Black-and-white Warbler              
  Tennessee Warbler                    
  Kentucky Warbler                     
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Hooded Warbler                        
  American Redstart                    
  Cape May Warbler                     
  Northern Parula                      
  Magnolia Warbler                     
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Chestnut-sided Warbler                
  Black-throated Blue Warbler          
  Yellow-rumped Warbler                
  Yellow-throated Warbler              
  Black-throated Green Warbler         
  Savannah Sparrow                     
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Summer Tanager                       
  Western Tanager                      
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak               
  Indigo Bunting                       
  Painted Bunting                      
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Yellow-headed Blackbird              
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Orchard Oriole                        
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                        


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