A problem I have; plus, Louisiana Waterthrush

I’ve been trying to pin something down, but I lack the information to do it. There’s a clutch of Snail Kite eggs in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History that was supposedly collected in Micanopy by H.H. Simpson on December 4, 1919. There are a lot of these old egg sets out there; in the days before binoculars, egg-collecting was one of the forms that “birding” took. This particular egg set would constitute the only other breeding record for Snail Kite in Alachua County, and – if it’s a valid record – it would suggest that this year’s nesting may be a temporary extension of the nesting range, rare but normal, rather than an indicator of long-range environmental changes.

But is it a valid record? That’s what I’m trying to pin down. Snail Kites normally begin nesting in March in Central Florida, and in 1919 they would presumably have nested in March or April here – not in December. So that’s one doubtful thing about it. Another is that a lot of these late 19th- and early 20th-century egg collectors, rather than listing the nest location on the specimen cards that accompanied the egg sets in their collections, listed their own hometowns instead. So how can I confirm Micanopy as the actual site of the nest from which the eggs were taken? The specimen tag in the Carnegie Museum wasn’t any help. So I contacted Paul Sykes, the Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who did a historical survey of kite nesting in Florida, and asked what he could tell me about the Micanopy record. He referred me to H.K. Swann’s “Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus Ridgway, Northern Everglade Kite” in volume 12 of “A monograph of the birds of prey,” published in 1934. It turns out to be an elusive book. The UF science library had one in its catalog, but now describes it as “missing.” And even if the library tracks it down, maybe it won’t tell me anything new. I’m looking for something along the lines of, “H.H. Simpson’s notes read, ‘Nest located in a willow tree at the center of the Tuscawilla Prairie, eggs collected on Dec. 4th.'” But I’m unlikely to find anything that helpful.

I rarely do find anything that helpful, in looking at old records. This is at least partly excusable, since early birders probably couldn’t imagine all the scrutiny their sightings would undergo in the decades to come. Robert McClanahan saw a Kirtland’s Warbler in 1934, or at least he said that he did: “Rare migrant. One record, a bird observed at Bivens Arm, April 26, 1934.” He didn’t try to convince us. He made no allowance for skeptics in the future. He just asserted it: “I saw this.” Yeah, maybe you did and maybe you didn’t.

Anyway, the frustration provoked by such unconfirmed and forever-unconfirmable reports has made me more thoughtful about my own birding records. When I go out now, I imagine the future sort of looking over my shoulder. “What would you want to know about this?” I ask. “What information will you wish I had recorded?”

I took a walk on Camps Canal early this morning in hopes of seeing Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and an early-migrant Louisiana Waterthrush. No luck with the night-heron. But I found the waterthrush – though putting it that way gives me too much credit. I walked right past it, but after I’d gone about a hundred feet it started calling, that hard, clinky, recognizably-waterthrushy chip note, so I turned back. It was in the slough, the shallow body of water that’s on your left as you near the Prairie. It flew up into view, slowly bobbed its tail a couple of times while I noted the long white supercilium and tea-stained flanks, moved to another branch a few yards away, and then flew across the trail and out of sight, down to the canal. I followed, and spished, and it appeared at the base of a cypress tree on the near bank. I focused on its throat, which was immaculate (Northerns have a streaked throat, though it’s too early for Northerns anyway), and then, almost immediately, it flew away. A nervous bird. I put two dead branches in the middle of the trail at that point, in the form of an X, and if you get out there today you might be able to relocate it.

Another exciting find, non-bird-related: as I was scaling the slope toward the canal, I saw a huge insect that I first took for a crane fly. But then it landed on a tree trunk and I realized that it was one of the giant ichneumon wasps of the genus Megarhyssa, the first I’ve ever seen in the wild and a real beauty. It looked something like this: https://bugguide.net/node/view/761160 Bugs otherwise were not bad. A few mosquitoes, barely noticeable. Camps Canal can be miserable with mosquitoes in the late summer, but right now it’s fine.

As I was driving home, I passed a family of Wild Turkeys grazing in a grassy lot along County Road 234. They were new for my June list too, and I think they were the last new birds I’ll get for the Challenge. They put me at 103. That should be easy to beat! Send me your totals by midnight tonight. And please list any unusual birds that you saw during the Challenge. I like to make a complete list of all the birds recorded during June.

The June Challenge party will be held at Becky Enneis’s place, 14806 NW 147th Avenue in Alachua, on Sunday, July 8th, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Bring something to rest your sit-upon upon. Bring some food to share. Soft drinks and water will be provided, but if you want beer or wine, bring your own. For a map that shows Becky’s place, click here. Becky’s is marked with the inverted red teardrop; click on the teardrop for driving directions. You can zoom the map in or out as needed.

Winter is coming

The days are getting shorter again. We’ve already lost a minute and three seconds of daylight! I can feel the Seasonal Affective Disorder starting to take hold. Sigh.

Gina Kent of Gainesville’s own Avian Research and Conservation Institute has a request: “In the past you’ve helped locate Mississippi Kite nests for orphan chicks. Do you know of any active territories this year? Whether you’ve located the actual nest or not, it’s super helpful to know where birds are being seen regularly. Some chicks may be flighted and able to release with/near foraging adults and recent fledglings. Thanks for any help you can give. Folks can email me at ginakent222@hotmail.com with info.”

This may be the last email before the June Challenge ends on Saturday at midnight. So remember to send me your totals by then. We’re not counting Black Swan, Swan Goose, Greylag Goose, Indian Peafowl (peacock), or Helmeted Guineafowl this year (but Whooping Crane, Mallard of any description, and Muscovy Duck are all okay). So no need to worry about separating ABA countables from uncountables. We’ll be having our June Challenge party on Sunday the 8th. Details later.

Bob Carroll hiked out Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve yesterday morning and found the ever-elusive Hairy Woodpecker “about half way along the Red Trail on the western edge of the property, maybe about opposite the entrance.” I think Bob’s the only Alachua County birder who’s found one this June. Here’s a trail map for reference (with the Red Trail marked R): https://www.sjrwmd.com/static/lands/trailguides/longleafflatwoodstrail.pdf

There have been a few sightings of Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Sweetwater Wetlands Park lately. Cindy Boyd saw it most recently, at 8:15 on the evening of the 25th, from the roofed shelter on the back side of Cell 2, looking at the opening in the trees where Sweetwater Canal used to be. Adam Zions had seen one at Sweetwater on the previoius evening.

Cindy also sighted a Broad-winged Hawk at San Felasco’s Millhopper Road parking lot on the 27th, and sent this great email: “Just as I was almost off the trail, about 50 yards east of the kiosk on the yellow trail, I heard the Broad-winged calling. I looked up and couldn’t see it. It sounded just a little north of me. So I whipped out my phone and played the call a couple of times. Within 30 seconds it was soaring right overhead. I’m so glad I fell in love with birds!”

Two Kings (-fisher and rail), plus an exciting new AOU Check-List Supplement! I mean AOS, sorry, I guess I just live in the past.

Less than a week to go!

Chris Cattau saw a Belted Kingfisher from the La Chua Trail at about 8 p.m. on the 22nd. It flew from the direction of the old horse barn, traveled around Alachua Sink, then continued flying out La Chua in the direction of the observation platform: “I guess it was probably going to have to roost somewhere fairly soon after I saw it so maybe there’s hope for a resight?” This may be the same individual that Tom Wronski photographed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park on the 7th.

Barbara Woodmansee reports that the Canada Geese were still on County Road 346A half a mile from Williston Road as of the 24th. She first saw them on the 10th. She writes, “They are always in the exact same place. I only see them in the late PM, never in the morning – and I’ve been looking hard every morning for them. I think there may be 4 or 5 of them. They sit down low in the tall grass, so only their heads/necks are showing. They’re usually under the same tree just south of the ‘lake’ (flooded pasture), almost directly across from the Misty Oaks sign.” I’d forgotten this, but Jerry Pruitt found two in that very spot in July 2016.

Colleen Cowdery, leading the busy life of a medical student, showed the value of patience and persistence in an email on the 24th: “Today was actually the first day in all of June that I was able to get outside and go birding, horror of horrors. Since I had no hope of catching up with the rest of the pack, I decided to go for quality over quantity and get myself a life bird today. I spent three hours trying to get a good look at a King Rail at Watermelon Pond. About two hours in, I had more or less given up and was heading back to the car when an incoming boat startled the bird into calling. I knew where it was, so I just sat and waited, having a nice conversation with it via recorded birdcall – recording, rail, recording, rail, back and forth. Finally, it came flying out and landed on the grass by the boat ramp. Success!” Success, too, in obtaining the only sharp photo of a King Rail that I’ve seen this month!

On the morning of the 22nd Geoff Parks spotted “a roost of a dozen or so Swallow-tailed kites in a tall dead pine on the south side of NW 8th Avenue” in the mile east of NW 34th Street. There’s a fairly good chance that it’s a regular overnight roost for these birds. Geoff saw them while driving, so they should be a cinch to see from the road or sidewalk.

Those mischievous fellers at the American Ornithological Society (formerly the AOU) released their annual Check-List Supplement last week. They changed a couple of English names, neither of which affected birds we see in Alachua County: Gray Jay went back to being Canada Jay; and White-collared Seedeater was split into Morelet’s Seedeater (found from South Texas to Panama, the one most of us have on our life lists) and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater (found in western Mexico).

They did make some interesting taxonomic changes, however:

  • They reorganized the sparrows of the genus Ammodramus – Grasshopper, Henslow’s, LeConte’s, Baird’s, Nelson’s, Saltmarsh, and Seaside – by spreading them out over three genera as follows: Grasshopper remains in Ammodramus, Henslow’s and Baird’s go into Centronyx, and LeConte’s, Saltmarsh, Nelson’s, and Seaside go into Ammospiza. (Editorial note: I don’t like this one, just as a practical matter. Until now, if you were walking through a grassy field and a sparrow popped up a couple of inches from the toe of your boot, flew weakly for a few yards, and dived back into the grass, you could call out, “Hey, I’ve got an Ammodramus over here!” Now you’ll have to say, “I’ve got an Ammodramus! … or a Centronyx! … or possibly even an Ammospiza!”)
  • They moved most of the woodpeckers of the genus Picoides – Downy, Hairy, Red-cockaded, Nuttall’s, Strickland’s, Ladder-backed, Arizona, and White-headed – into the genus Dryobates, leaving only American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers in Picoides.
  • Finally, the kites were split up into three subfamilies. For the past few years the family Accipitridae has included the eagles, the hawks, the harriers, and the kites – one big happy family with no subdivisions among them. But now DNA analysis has shown that the kites are not that closely related to each other, so the Accipitridae has been split into three subfamilies to accommodate these newly-understood relationships: the White-tailed Kite and Pearl Kite have the subfamily Elaninae to themselves; the Swallow-tailed Kite, the Hook-billed Kite, and the Gray-headed Kite are given their own subfamily, Gypaetinae; while the Mississippi Kite and the Snail Kite, along with all the other hawks, eagles, and harriers, will be in the subfamily Accipitrinae (families have the -dae suffix, subfamilies the -nae). Interesting to think that the Mississippi Kite is more closely related to the Bald Eagle than to the Swallow-tailed Kite. (Speaking of kites, did you know that the paper kite that we fly on a string is named after the bird, and not the other way around? The bird was well-known to 8th-century Anglo-Saxons, who called it the cyta, while the paper kite didn’t arrive in Europe till the 13th century and the first reference to it in English dates from the 17th century.)

Anyway, you can see the whole supplement here. And you can see the updated Alachua County checklist here.

During some years we see fall migrants during the final days of The June Challenge. We’ve had Louisiana Waterthrushes several times (three years since 2013), Black-and-white Warblers on a couple of occasions, and a handful of shorebirds. These last few days of June can make a difference, so don’t waste them.

Not Alachua County, but pretty interesting nonetheless. J.W. Callis of Tallahassee recently photographed this pre-migratory congregation of Purple Martins at Cedar Key.

Raillery, goosery, and duckery

This is the last full weekend of The June Challenge. Next weekend you’ve got only Saturday, because Sunday is July 1st and the June Challenge will be over!

Barbara Woodmansee advises that there have been “several” Canada Geese in a temporary pond on County Road 346A off Williston Road. CR-346A is 5.75 miles south of I-75, and the pond is about half a mile from Williston Road on the left. The origin of these geese is unknown, but they haven’t been there long, so we’ll assume they’re free-flying and countable for The June Challenge.

Barbara Shea photographed two King Rails at the Watermelon Pond boat ramp on Wednesday morning, and then, driving back north on SW 250th Street (the access road to Watermelon Pond), she spotted two Northern Bobwhites crossing over. Why did the gallinaceous bird cross the street? To get on Barbara Shea’s June Challenge list!

(I’ve now posted two King Rail photos, and both have been as blurry as pictures of Bigfoot. As far as my June Challenge list is concerned, both are equally mythical.)

(Plus, what’s with the Barbaras? Barbara Woodmansee, Barbara Shea, both of them seeing good birds. It’s something cosmic, I’m certain of it. If your name is Barbara, get out there now and take advantage of it!)

On the 21st Jennifer “Barbara” Donsky wrote, “The Broad-winged Hawk came up and down quickly at around 11 a.m. a little above pine tree to the NW, north side of San Felasco Hammock near interstate as seen from parking lot. It was hanging with 3 Swallow-tailed Kites and 2 Mississippi Kites which were going back and forth over Millhopper Road.”

Speaking of kites, Eric Anderson wrote on Friday afternoon, “In the freshly hayed field on the west side of County Road 241 where Millhopper Road dead-ends was an enormous soaring congregation of around 20+ Mississippi Kites and a few Swallow-tailed Kites. The Mississippi Kites were actually landing and flying off with freshly mowed clumps of hay! Perhaps there was some sort of prey item in the hay. This was happening today June 22, 2018 at 1:30pm. The field was being mowed at the time.”

John Martin photographed a drake Blue-winged Teal off the boardwalk at La Chua on the 17th, a different individual from the one at Sweetwater. The Sweetwater bird apparently has a broken wing; Danny Rohan tried to capture it and take it to a wildlife rehab agency, but it refused to cooperate.

Chuck Littlewood shared this bird cartoon with me: https://www.gocomics.com/rubes/2018/06/21

Two thirds of the way!

A reminder from Becky Enneis: “Please send only photos taken in June 2018 of birds that were in Alachua County. I’d like to start working on the slide show now, so don’t wait until the end of the month to send them. And I like photos of June Challenge birders in action, too! Send those if you have them.” Becky is at raenneis@yahoo.com

Remember to submit your Alachua County results to me by midnight on June 30th (but if you’re outside of Alachua County, submit your results to Susan O’Connor at niltava29@gmail.com).

There will be a June Challenge party at Becky Enneis’s place in Alachua on Sunday, July 8th, during which the results will be announced and the awards will be presented.

Now that the official business is out of the way, let’s get to the birds. The month of June is 2/3 over; you’ve got ten days to beef up your list and win this contest! I’m rooting for you, but don’t tell the others I said so.

Until yesterday the only King Rails reported this month had come from Sweetwater Wetland Park, one by Monica LeClerc on the 6th and one by Jonathan Mays on the 15th. But on the 19th Chris Cattau wrote, “King Rails have been very hard to come by this year (at least for me), but I finally got my eyes on one around 7:30 yesterday evening at Levy Lake Loop. It crossed the levee about 50 yards before the first covered bench along the north side of the prairie (so taking a right out of the parking lot it was a little over a mile down the trail). Also heard another call nearby.” Chris’s photo above. By the way, the “cough call” of the Least Bittern can easily be mistaken for a King Rail. In fact, I have a bad feeling that a pretty large percentage of the King Rails I’ve reported to eBird over the years were actually Least Bitterns (call begins at 0:04): https://www.xeno-canto.org/95727

On the morning of the 14th, Dalcio Dacol saw a dark-morph Short-tailed Hawk “fly over SE 15th Street just a bit south of Boulware Springs Park. It seemed to be coming from the Prairie and moving in the general direction of Newnans Lake.” That’s the only Short-tailed reported in the county this month, though Andy Kratter saw a white-morph in the same general area around mid-morning on May 28th. Could they be nesting at Sweetwater Preserve or an adjacent part of Paynes Prairie? Anyway, sounds like a good area to stake out.

Chris Cattau – who’s certainly doing better than I am this month! – saw the drake Blue-winged Teal at Sweetwater Wetlands Park at 8 on Sunday evening. He wrote, “He’s here now but I didn’t see it when I walked by 2 hours ago.”

I asked Geoff Parks if he’d seen or heard the American Robin in his neighborhood recently. He said he’d been too busy to keep track, but he added, “My experience is that they sing really early in the morning—in May I heard him singing before any other diurnal birds were vocal. Really late in the evening as well. At more ‘normal’ times they’re not as obvious.” At 7:20 on the evening of the 19th he wrote, “Two males countersinging right now, one at NE 7th Terrace south of NE 23rd Avenue, one a block or so east.”

If you have an interest in ducks, geese, and swans, you might be interested in this new guide: https://www.hancockhouse.com/products/north-american-ducks-geese-swans/

Here’s an instance of kleptoparasitism that would do a Pomarine Jaeger proud: https://www.facebook.com/stbuTV/videos/2087696031510393/

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/

You can call me Owl

If you’re interested, we’re going to look for Great Horned Owl and Barn Owl at the La Chua Trail on Sunday evening. Meet on the boardwalk at 8 p.m.

This morning’s San Felasco Hammock field trip was successful. It started with a bang, when a Broad-winged Hawk flew over the parking lot, giving everyone a good look – except me, since I was across the street checking the trail mileages at the informational kiosk. We went left from the kiosk, following the Yellow Trail, then cut back on the Hammock Connector, and returned to the parking lot via the Blue/Yellow Trail, a walk of about three and a quarter miles. We found the Eastern Wood-Pewee where the Yellow Trail meets the Hammock Connector, got looks at Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos along the Hammock Connector, and, shortly after turning onto the Blue/Yellow Trail, found Acadian Flycatcher and Hooded Warbler. But most of us only heard the Hooded, didn’t see it, so four of us (out of the original ten) crossed the street and walked down the Moonshine Creek Trail a little past the first bridge to a place where a creek flows over the trail, and there we found a Hooded that wasn’t so shy.

Yesterday Chris Cattau found a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron along Camps Canal. “Coming from the road, I think it would have been about 50 yards after the trail does that steep downhill drop.” He sent a map:

Two days ago Karen Brown saw a flock of Wild Turkeys “on the east side of Hague Dairy Road just before NW 156th Avenue.”

More White-winged Doves. Chris Cattau writes, “I’ve had good luck the last two years in the neighborhood just east of Newberry elementary school. This year I pulled over at the intersection of SW 254th Street and SW 17th Avenue in Newberry and saw 4-5 without even getting out of the car, including two mating in a tree in someone’s front yard, and I heard singing coming from what seemed like all directions. Last year I saw two at the same intersection with just a little more effort.” Yesterday Cindy Boyd saw two, and heard several more, in the Watermelon Pond WEA parking lot on SW 250th Street.

Chris Farrell of Audubon Florida requested that this message be distributed to all Audubon chapters in North Florida: “Julington-Durbin Preserve is a great example of Florida’s work to conserve habitats that birds depend on. The preserve is truly a special place that contains rare sandhill habitat that grades down through wetlands to the shores of Julington and Durbin Creeks. It is a wonderful refuge for people and wildlife given the highly developed surroundings. Unfortunately, local developers are attempting to purchase most of this preserve for conversion to more residential development! We need to make sure decision-makers understand the importance of this habitat and refuse the proposal. I’m asking birders to visit the preserve and send me a short summary of their experience. Did you see a unique species, an interesting behavior, or just enjoy the peace of being with nature? I will use these accounts as we talk with decision-makers to avoid losing this special place. Please send any accounts of your visits, including pictures, to Chris Farrell at cfarrell@audubon.org . Thanks for your support!” The Julington-Durbin Preserve is at 13130 Bartram Park Boulevard in Jacksonville. It’s one of only a couple of places in Duval County where you can find Bachman’s Sparrow. If you go, the e-Bird Hotspot is at https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1674650

(By the way, for those too young, too old, or outside the mainstream, the subject line refers to a pop song from 1986.)

Blue-winged Teal, pelican redux

This morning Danny Rohan reported a drake Blue-winged Teal at the outflow (far end, that is) of the overflow channel between Cells 1 and 2 at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

At 4:43 yesterday afternoon Erin Kalinowski emailed, “The pelican must be playing a joke on you … currently, it’s sitting on the same snag as last night. It looks very comfortable, so maybe it will stick around.”

She added, “Last night, a Great Horned Owl was perched in the same oak as last year and easily viewable.” Anyone interested in meeting at the boardwalk for Great Horned and maybe Barn Owls one evening this weekend?

Whooping Crane and Belted Kingfisher, among other surprises

Has anyone found a dark blue field bag with an over-the-shoulder strap? I seem to have lost it. It was a nice one – a gift from Lloyd Davis – and it contained a small Panasonic camera, a Garmin Dakota GPS device, a Belomo hand lens, a laser pointer, a tape measure, and a compass. I’ve looked around the house and in the trunk of my car, so I must have put it down while birding and then walked away from it.

If your June Challenge list needs some San Felasco birds – Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos – join me at 8 a.m. Saturday at San Felasco’s Millhopper Road parking lot and we’ll do our best to check ’em off.

As I mentioned in the last birding report, Jennifer Donsky sighted a Brown Pelican from the boardwalk at La Chua on the 4th. I went down there right away and looked around, but I never saw it. On the 5th Bob Carroll emailed to tell me that it was still there, but that I needed to scan carefully to the southwest. So I went down there right away and looked around, but I never saw it. On the 6th Erin Kalinowski emailed to tell me that it was still there, to the southwest. So this morning I went down there and looked around, but I never saw it. Is this some kind of practical joke?

Two Belted Kingfishers were found this morning. Tom Wronski photographed this one at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. And Jennifer Donsky found another at the Tuscawilla Prairie. We occasionally see early arrivals from the north in late June, but it’s rare to find kingfishers at any other time of the month. These must be spending the summer.

Jennifer – who is kicking some serious birdie butt – also found a Whooping Crane at Tuscawilla this morning. This is the younger of the two Whooping Cranes that have been spending time in Alachua County in recent years. She fledged from a wild nest in Lake County in 2015, so she’s now three years old. She tends to favor the area around the Alachua-Marion county line, having been seen as far north as the Kanapaha Prairie and the southern edge of Paynes Prairie and as far south as McIntosh. She’s been at Tuscawilla since February.

Geoff Parks writes, “There’s at least one American Robin in our neighborhood again this year. We found a singing male on NE 7th Terrace near 23rd Avenue around 8 pm on the 1st.”

Bob Knight saw a Broad-winged Hawk on the 5th, over the intersection of I-75 and US-441 in Alachua. That’s the second Broad-winged reported this month; the first was at the Canterbury Equestrian Center just east of Newberry on the 3rd.

Adam Zions had mentioned to me that he often sees White-winged Doves in the neighborhood around Home Depot Pond. I’d never noticed that myself, but Linda Hensley saw one there on the 5th, “sitting on top of a lamp next to the pond,” so he must be right.

I haven’t heard any Northern Flicker reports, but Lloyd Davis eBirded them from the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area on both the 1st and the 5th. Has anyone checked for them at Northeast Park?

There are several species that can be tough to get on The June Challenge. If you see something good – Hairy Woodpecker, Blue-winged Teal, King Rail, Short-tailed Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Barn Owl, that sort of thing – be sure to let me know, so that I can share it with everyone else. Remember, it’s a friendly competition. Many a Florida birder has told me that his or her county lacks a cohesive birding community; “It’s not like Gainesville,” they tell me. We’re fortunate here. We’re friendly. So make it a friendly competition and share your good finds. Or I’ll punch you in the nose.

Remember your write-ins, if you’re using an electronic or printed checklist: Mallard, Burrowing Owl, Ring-billed Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Loon, Bobolink, Snail Kite, American Robin.