Thursday, March 11, 2010

End of 10th Week

So 10 weeks are now in the books on this grand travel/birding adventure. I have spent the past 2 days in Florida trying to pick up some more key birds here before I move on to Texas. The picture above is of a common myna (another Florida specialty) that I found scavenging food at a McDonald's where I stopped to get an egg mcmuffin. On Wed. I started early at a spot I had hit the day before to look for sparrows and short-eared owl. No owl, but I did see 3 clay-colored, and 2 grasshopper sparrows, plus a blue grosbeak--all new year birds.

I next went to a place called STA 5 which stands for storm water treatment area 5. It is about 20 miles south of Lake Okeechobee. I arrived about 10:30 AM and had the place to myself. It was a great wetland that provided another new bird for the year--fulvous whistling duck. There were also 2 snail kites gliding over the marsh, several northern harriers doing the same, ospreys, a bald eagle, lots of common moorhens and purple gallinules, huge numbers of american coots, and ibis and herons throughout. I also saw 2 purple swamphens, a so-called exotic that looks similar to a purple gallinule. This bird is not on the ABA countable list at this time, but it is expanding its population here in south Florida, so it may eventually be accepted.

At lunch time I noticed a small place called Dixie Fried Chicken that had a window sign for frog legs. I thought maybe they were locally sourced from the wetlands in the area, so I decided to try some. Unfortunately, they did not seem that fresh (the leg meat was not very moist), so I will not be recommending the frog legs at Dixie.

Last nite I spent the evening with 2 very good, long time friends who live in Avon Park. They have a 20 acre orange grove that made it thru the very cold weather that Florida had this winter. We caught up on our lives, and plan to bird together in April when I return to Florida.

This morning I drove over north of St. Petersburg to check out shore birds, and mainly to search for the few remaining budgerigars. The budgie is the small parakeet that many of us owned or a friend owned when we were kids back in the 50's and 60's. At one point there were 20,000 wild ones living in the greater St. Petersburg area. But competition for nesting sites with house sparrows and starlings has all but eliminated the budgie population. It was raining hard and windy when I was looking for the budgies, and alas I came up empty on them. I did see a couple of American oystercatchers, plus several other shorebirds.

So I ended the week with a 155 birds which beats by 2 birds the year's highest weekly total back in week #1. With 5 more new year birds, the YTD total is now 383. I am heading to New Orleans tomorrow to pick up my wife and have a fine dinner in the city. On Saturday we will drive to Austin to stay with good friends there, so no birding for the next couple of days. Next week south TX is back in play. Stay tuned!

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