Thursday, January 1, 2015

Back from the (sub) Tropics

My family and I had an enjoyable trip to central Florida, and my son and I got out quite a bit locally around the Kissimmee area, seeing around 110 species over the week.  During winter the retention ponds around my parent's condo complex host Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks, along with many locals: White Ibis, Anhinga, Blue, Tri-colored, and Great Blue Herons, Snowy, Cattle, and Great Egrets, and the ubiquitous feral Muscovy Ducks.  Florida Sandhill Cranes walk the lawns, flocks of Fish Crow fly over, and the trees are full of Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Orange Crowned Warblers.  Sub-tropical birding at its easiest!

However, we had a few goals, one being to try and see Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch at the Hal Scott Preserve.  We succeeded only in hearing several of the nuthatches; Bachman's were unresponsive to all means of persuasion, and we lacked time to get deep into the best older growth Long-leaf Pine sections of Hal Scott.  Our consolation was good looks at White-eyed Vireo and four Yellow-throated Warblers (both lifers for Tim).  Hal Scott is really lovely, but it is big, so allow half a day of walking (or take a bike).

Other highlights included a Snail Kite at Riverside Park in St. Cloud (very reliable there), numerous Loggerhead Shrikes (lifer for Tim), Sedge Wren at Twin Oaks Conservation Area in Kissimmee (an excellent new area with great potential), and locally rare wintering ducks, Canvasback and Redhead, also at Twin Oaks.  Finally, after another visiting birder put up an erroneous eBird report for a locals-only communal roosting area (for 240 Fulvous Whistling Ducks, no less!), we visited to find 49 Black-bellied (another lifer for Tim).

Alas, we never got to the Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area, where some Groove-billed Ani continued through the holidays.  Nor were we able to get down to Joe Overstreet Rd. to look for Whooping Cranes (introduced locally and now countable).  But all in all, a lovely, warm, and productive trip.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice visit. I like the black-bellied whistling duck; seen them in Texas. Happy New Year and more birding!