Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Day of Bobs

What in the world does that title mean? Quite simply it refers to the northern bobwhite quail and the bobolinks that were seen today, but I am once again a bit ahead of myself because yesterday had nothing to do with either bird. Instead it was about going to De Soto Park in St. Petersburg, FL. The hope was that it would be a very good spring migration day there, and it would live up to its rep. But that was not to be. In fact the wind was blowing quite hard which pushed all the migrating birds right past De Soto to places unknown. I did meet a local birder though who took me to see the seemingly proud parent and chick great-horned owls in the top photo above.

I also did get to see some shorebirds including many red knots. There were also a few common terns to go along with the normal group of least, sandwich and royal terns. So the time at De Soto was not a total bust, and as I was leaving a magnificent frigatebird soared past me.

Since the birding was quite poor, I headed on over to Avon Park to visit for a second time during this big year with two dear, long time friends. As I walked up to their front door an eastern towhee popped out of a bush, pushing the YTD number up to 503.

We drank some good red wine while we caught up on each other's doings over the past 5 weeks. Then we got some southern cooking from a place appropriately named James Brown and the Flames. We had pulled pork with collards, black-eyed peas, fried okra and cornbread. We also added some totally fresh local corn tortillas and green sauce, making pork and black-eyed pea tacos. It was a delightful meal and evening.

We all left just after 7 AM this morning to drive over to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve SP to see what it was like, and to look for the Florida race of the grasshopper sparrow. It was a nice, somewhat cloudy morning, and "the prairie" was very pretty. We kept listening for the grasshopper sparrow, but only heard bachman's sparrows singing. Soon after we entered the park much to our delight a small group of bobolinks flew up out of the grass. A bit later an even larger group of 19 bobolinks landed in some leafless plants. Next we found the crested caracara shown in the bottom photo above. The caracara is much less common here in Florida than it is over in Texas. On our way out we found one more large group of 34 bobolinks to put a nice big bow on our morning of birding.

After a late but nice breakfast at a local place in Okeechobee, we parted ways as I headed off for Miami. I had some info on a possible location to see spot-breasted oriole in north Miami, so I stopped there. After 2 hours of lots of other bird activity at the home where the oriole had been seen, I left without finding one. I then drove to another neighborhood in south Miami to look for the oriole there. I saw red-whiskered bulbul, hill myna, monk parakeet and white-crowned pigeon, but no oriole.

The past 2 days gave me 53 more birds for the week, plus 3 new ones for the year bringing the YTD total up to 503. I am now back in Florida City for the nite to be ready to start early tomorrow to look for mangrove cuckoos. Stay tuned!

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