June Challenge birds? We got ’em right here!

Send any bird photos (or birder photos) you took during this year’s June Challenge to Becky Enneis at raenneis@yahoo.com so that she can include them in the slide show that will play during the June Challenge party.

Broad-winged Hawks have been more common this June than in years past. As mentioned in a previous email, one flew over the San Felasco Hammock parking lot on Millhopper Road as several of us gathered for a walk on the 9th. Erin Kalinowski went back on the 10th between 9:40 and 10:40 and saw it again. And on the 15th Deena Mickelson photographed one over the Mill Creek Preserve parking lot north of Alachua.

On the 8th Howard Adams and Danny Rohan found a drake Blue-winged Teal at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, in the overflow channel between Cells 1 and 2. I’ve seen no reports in eBird since, but Linda Hensley heard that it was seen again on Wednesday morning.

I found the Gray Catbird at Tumblin’ Creek Park at 7:25 on Tuesday morning. It was right where John Martin said it would be, singing in the “forested edge adjacent to where the retention pond has an obvious, wide concrete overflow pad crossing the asphalt pedestrian path along the SW side of pond.” Erin Kalinowski noted *two* catbirds there on Monday, as did Tina Greenberg on Thursday. This is the fourth straight year they’ve been singing in the park during June, but as far as I know nesting hasn’t been confirmed.

It’s interesting what they’ve done with SW 6th Street, by the way. In the past, on-road parking was not allowed, but now between Depot Road and SW 5th Avenue there’s parking on both sides of the road, both angle (“Back-In Only”) and parallel.

Last Sunday’s owl prowl at La Chua was good, really good, or excellent, depending on how late you stayed. Becky Minnick spotted a Great Horned Owl pretty early, partially hidden behind a clump of leaves in an oak, and after a few minutes it flew out to the top of a small tree and perched right out in the open for us. As dusk closed in, we headed back toward the parking lot, stopping at a point where we could see both the old barn and the former police-horse pasture. There we played the call of a Barn Owl, in hopes of luring one into view. Sometimes it takes them a little while to respond, so while we waited I asked Bob Carroll to play an Eastern Screech-Owl call as well. He did, and two screech-owls responded from the fencerow behind us, trilling simultaneously, and then one flew in. About that time, the bugs descended on us, and people started leaving. Out of the original 21, only five were still present when Gary Appelson located the screech-owl perched in a wild plum tree. We all got a nice look at it, and then headed for the parking lot … where we found three Barred Owls caterwauling in the trees overhead! We saw those well, too. We never did see or hear a Barn Owl, but we were all fairly satisfied with three owl species in one evening.

I took a boat ride all the way around Newnans Lake with Bob Knight and Debbie Segal on the evening of the 5th. We were hoping for Bald Eagles and Laughing Gulls, and maybe something a little unusual, like a coastal stray or a winter bird stranded here for the summer. We saw none of the above. But eagles are out there. Howard Adams and Brad Hall saw two from Windsor on the 4th, and Lloyd Davis photographed one along Lakeshore Drive on the 6th. They show up in other spots as well. Debbie Segal and Jennifer Donsky saw one in Evinston on the 7th,

As for Laughing Gulls, Howard and Brad saw 12 to 14 from the Windsor boat ramp on the 4th, and Bob Carroll and I saw one from Palm Point last night. I think they come and go from day to day, so keep trying.

The Brown Pelican at La Chua was seen daily from the 4th through the 9th, but hasn’t been reported since.

Still no Short-tailed Hawks. What a change from 2015, when there were five sightings, involving no fewer than three individual birds, in the first three weeks of the Challenge.

Speaking of 2015, if you still need Chuck-will’s-widow for the Challenge, here’s some advice from a June 20, 2015 birding report: “Chuck-will’s-widow isn’t always easy to find, but Peter Polshek was canny enough to consult A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Alachua County, Florida (p. 104-05), and on the 11th he wrote, ‘I saw 4 Chucks along the first mile of Fish Camp Road off County Road 325 last evening about 8:45-9:15.’ Fish Camp Road is one and a half miles south of the Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve parking corral.”

Bryant Roberts, one of the best Gainesville birders of the 1990s, moved to Broward County many years ago. He and his brother David recently did some birding and sightseeing around Trinidad, Cuba, and he’s posted several photos from that trip: https://bryantroberts.smugmug.com/Trinidad-Cuba/