Sunday, April 11, 2010

Can You Say Bar-tailed Godwit?

Yesterday morning we birded at Santa Ana NWR early to see if just maybe the elusive hook-billed kite would make an appearance. It did not, but we did see 100's of mississippi kites that had roosted for the nite at Santa Ana on their way north. As we were leaving we were told that a hook-billed kite was perched near where the hawk watch was being done. We went to see the bird only to find that it was a gray hawk--a new bird for the year, but not a hook-billed kite.

My friend and I caught the same plane to Dallas. He then went on to Missouri and I flew to Miami to have a try at the western spindalis and the bar-tailed godwit. I arrived in Florida to find that the spindalis was not seen yesterday even though about 40 birders spent much of the day searching for it. I still went to Bill Baggs SP this morning in hopes that it would return. It did not while I was there from 8-10 AM. I did see 3 new warblers for the year--cape may, black-throated blue, and american redstart. A local birder had caught a black-throated blue warbler in a mist net which she is holding in the top photo.

I also met 2 very good birders from Orlando and Gainesville. We headed down to Flamingo in Everglades NP to look for the bar-tailed godwit. This is a bird that I have not seen since I started birding in the early 1970's. One shows up in Florida about every 10 years. They had searched on Saturday but did not find it. Today was a different story. About 12:30 PM it flew in with a large group of marbled godwits and willets. The 2nd photo is the bar-tailed by itself. The last photo shows it between a marbled godwit (above it) and a willet and another marbled godwit (below it). Note the overall size and color differences. Also check how much less pink there is at the base of the bill of the bar-tailed compared to the marbled.

While looking at the bar-tailed I realized that I had met both of these guys in 2006 in Alaska when we were all birding at Gambell (a native american village on St. Lawrence Island) and Nome. Another small world story for my big birding year!

So after 3 days this week the total species seen is at 94, and the YTD number is now 454. Tomorrow I am heading back to south Texas where a black-vented oriole was seen today. Stay tuned!

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