Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Sunday, 3 March 2019

South Florida: day three

Day three saw us move out of the southern Everglades and Florida City, heading north and west across the state to Fort Myers. The weather was notably chiller with a bit of a brisk breeze, but once the sun was up for a couple of hours conditions were pleasant. The first site of the day was the Loop Road trail, just west of Miccosukee in the northern Everglades.

Limpkin, Loop Road,  28/1/2019.

This 26-mile route took us through typical Everglades habitat with a nice selection of roadside birds to boot. Brown-headed Nuthatch, Little Blue Heron, Kildeer and Pine and Prairie Warbler were all added to the trip list here, with superb views of Limpkin a highlight.

Little Blue Heron, Loop Road, 28/1/2019.

Kildeer, Loop Road, 28/1/2019.

American Alligator, Loop Road, 28/1/2019.

Upon exiting the Everglades, it was the suburban sprawl of San Marco Island that was next in the sat-nav. This area is home to the relatively iconic Burrowing Owl, which prefers the short turf of front gardens and kerb-sides that were abundant here. The species had undergone a real decline locally – hand-in hand with increased development – but locals in this area cordon off suspected nest sites to give them a boost. We swiftly found a pair but, not wanting to disturb them, we let them win the staring contest …

Burrowing Owls, San Marco Island, 28/1/2019.

I'd been looking forward to visiting Tigertail Beach long before we’d arrived, with a suite of new waders on offer. As it happened, despite a lengthy walk, it was a touch disappointing – doubtless the time of day and number of people impeded our visit. That said, we had great views of Semipalmated and Wilson’s Plovers, as well as Least Sandpipers and Ring-billed Gulls.

Wilson's Plover, Tigertail Beach, 28/1/2019.

Ring-billed Gull, Tigertail Beach, 28/1/2019.

Least Sandpiper, Tigertail Beach, 28/1/2019.

We were doing well for time so decided to head inland and visit the famous Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Immokalee. An Armadillo, Bald Eagle and flock of Common Ground Doves in the car park was a promising start and, as it happened, this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable sites and walks of the entire trip.

Armadillo, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Bald Eagle, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Black-and-white Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

The 2.5 mile boardwalk took us through pine flatwoods, cypress swamp, small lakes and wet prairie and it was heaving with birds, many of which were tame. Wood warblers and vireos were prominent, and we also managed four species of woodpecker. Indeed, trip ticks included Blue-headed Vireo, Downy Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, as well as Pied-billed Grebe and Short-shinned Hawk.

White-eyed Vireo, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Pied-billed Grebe, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Downy Woodpecker, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Blue-headed Vireo, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

We also managed satisfactory views of both Carolina and Marsh Wren, which are never easy to see. On the way out of the mightily impressive visitor centre we enjoyed better views of Brown-headed Nuthatch too, as well as Yellow-throated Warbler. Just beyond the car park, a flock of Wild Turkeys alongside a party of Sandhill Cranes was a somewhat surreal experience.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Brown-headed Nuthatch, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Wild Turkey, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Corkscrew Swamp, 28/1/2019.

It was then back to the coast for the evening, though before we clocked off for the birding day there was time for a quick look at Fort Myers Beach. This proved a tactful move as I managed to see a few of the waders I’d missed out on at Tigertail: Short-billed Dowitcher, Snowy Plover (stunner!) and Willet.

Snowy Plover, Fort Myers Beach, 28/1/2019.

Willet, Fort Myers Beach, 28/1/2019.

Snowy Plover, Fort Myers Beach, 28/1/2019.

Another thoroughly entertaining day and plenty of reasons to enjoy some good food and a few drinks in Fort Myers that night. The following morning we were after Piping Plover and Reddish Egret on Sanibel Island, before heading inland for a few specialities and the first (and hopefully only) serious target-birding of the trip.

South Florida: day one and two

South Florida: day four

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