Bird Board

North Florida Tour Trip Report, January 5-8

Eight birders joined Paul Bithorn and me this weekend for TAS’s annual four-day North Florida tour. Egyptian Geese, seen near our meeting location in Pompano, were the first of twenty-three waterfowl species tallied during the tour. A large flock of Wild Turkey was spotted along Florida's Turnpike during our morning drive. We spent our first afternoon on the La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, south of Gainesville, where we hiked among the thousands of Sandhill Cranes that congregate in the prairie every winter. A single Whooping Crane was found among them. Large numbers of Wilson’s Snipe, several American Pipit and a single Stilt Sandpiper were among other birds encountered during our walk. Before sunset, we visited Dauer Hall on University of Florida’s campus, where five Vaux’s Swift were seen returning to their evening roost in the building’s chimney.

Our first stop during our first full day in the Panhandle was at Lake Henrietta, south of Tallahassee, where we found a flock of hundreds of Rusty Blackbirds gorging on acorns that accumulated around the lake. A Limpkin, plus Song and White-throated Sparrow was also present here. The rest of the morning and much of the afternoon was spent at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, where we tallied fifteen duck species, including Canvasback and Redhead in Lighthouse Pool and Surf Scoter, Black Scoter and Common Goldeneye offshore. A Golden-crowned Kinglet was seen near the visitor center. American Golden-Plover and White-rumped Sandpiper were found among the shorebird flocks on mudflats at Stony Bayou; a brilliant red Vermilion Flycatcher was seen nearby. A single White-faced Ibis was found in the Mounds Pool area. Later in the afternoon, we visited Alligator Point, where a significant section of the road was still closed due to storm damage. At Bald Point State Park, we found a large flock of shorebirds that included over fifty American Oystercatchers, nine Marbled Godwits and a single Snowy Plover. Just before dusk, we stopped along Bottoms Road, where we saw one Clapper Rail but heard many more. A distant Black Rail was heard only. Nelson’s and Seaside Sparrow also offered brief looks before darkness descended.

After the passage of a strong cold front, which brought heavy overnight rains, conditions the next morning were considerably windier and chillier. Our first stop was the Sumatra area in Apalachicola National Forest, west of Tallahassee, where we easily located Red-cockaded Woodpeckers along Forest Road 123. In a nearby pitcher plant bog, we had fleeting looks at several Sedge Wrens and a couple of Henslow’s Sparrows. South of Sumatra, we encountered an American Woodcock standing in the middle of the road! Tragically, it was struck and killed by an oncoming car seconds after we spotted it. After stopping to photograph the deceased bird, we continued to Apalachicola Airport, where we found a flock of Vesper Sparrows near the entrance. At least two Sprague’s Pipits were flushed from grassy areas between the airport’s runways. In the afternoon, we drove north to Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, where were surprised to discover that the Chipola River had risen significantly in recent days and flooded much of the park. Several common species, including Hermit Thrush and Blue-headed Vireo were found along the few still-accessible trails. We searched for Horned Larks in an agricultural area north of the park, but only found a large flock of American Pipits. A final stop at Sneads Park, adjacent to Lake Seminole, produced only a few Chipping Sparrows, seen near the entrance.

Our last morning began at Tall Timbers Research Station, north of Tallahassee, where it was much less windy but even colder than yesterday. We walked down the Stevenson Trail to the bird blind, where American Goldfinch, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and House Finch were visiting the feeders. On the way back, John Hutchison spotted a Brown Creeper in the pines along the trail, but the rest of us were unable to relocate it. A Red-headed Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet and a couple of White-breasted Nuthatch were among the birds seen as we headed back to the vans. A Northern Bobwhite scurried away from the road as we were leaving the property. Before heading back to Miami, we made two more quick stops. First we visited a residence in Tallahassee, where within minutes, a Calliope Hummingbird was in view at one of their feeders. Finally, we stopped at a small roadside pond in Monticello, east of Tallahassee, where, among a flock of Canada Geese were two Snow Geese and three Greater White-fronted Geese. A flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks was also present.

By trip’s end, we had tallied 163 bird species, plus wild hog, river otter, white-tailed deer and bottle-nosed dolphin. Here’s the bird list:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Egyptian Goose
Muscovy Duck
American Wigeon
Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
Northern Bobwhite
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Northern Gannet
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-breasted Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black Rail (heard only)
Clapper Rail
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Whooping Crane
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Stilt Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Tern
Forster’s Tern
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
American Kestrel
Barred Owl (heard only)
Vaux’s Swift
Calliope Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Sprague’s Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Palm Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Henslow’s Sparrow
Nelson’s Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


Nancy Freedman
over 4 years ago

You forgot the 18 wild horses and two foals. An excellent trip as always!

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