Nine birders joined Paul Bithorn and me this past Tuesday through Thursday for the three-day TAS birding tour to Ft DeSoto County Park in Pinellas County. Though the cold front that moved through the area a couple of days before our arrival didn't produce a major fallout, it did bring a nice variety of warblers, tanagers, buntings, grosbeaks, orioles and other songbirds to the park during the week, in particular to the mulberry tree area just east of the fort. Two spiffy Dickcissels were among the many highlights during our full day in the park on Wednesday. We also enjoyed an impressive assemblage of shorebirds at North Beach during morning low tide, including hundreds of Red Knots, many in breeding plumage, and good numbers of Common Terns among the nine gulls and terns seen there. By dinnertime, we produced a day list for the park of nearly 80 species!
Our drive on Tuesday from Miami to our hotel in Ellenton (in Manatee County) included birding along County Roads 833 and 846 in Broward, Hendry and Collier Counties, plus stops at Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Lee County, Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County and Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility in Sarasota County. During our return to Miami on Thursday, we paid another visit to the Celery Fields, followed by stops at Oscar Scherer State Park and Nokomis Beach, both in Sarasota County. House Crow was our target at Nokomis Beach, but it wasn't present during our visit. Our final stop of the tour was at Belle Mead Horse Trail at Picayune Strand State Forest. By tour's end, our trip list stood at 146 species! See the link below for a list of birds and where we saw them.