Fall migration underway

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

Jennifer Donsky saw the season’s first American Redstart at San Felasco City Park on July 20th and the season’s first Prairie Warbler at La Chua on the 21st.

Ron Robinson and I walked out La Chua on the 24th in search of migrants and did better than we expected. We saw one Yellow Warbler and two Prairie Warblers along Sparrow Alley, then walked out to the observation platform, where we saw two or three more Yellow Warblers, one Lesser Yellowlegs, and one distant shorebird that I’m pretty sure was a Stilt Sandpiper: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/19380630533/in/dateposted-public/ We also saw two Roseate Spoonbills from the platform. We looked for the Whooping Crane seen by Jennifer on the 21st, but saw no sign of it. And although we saw two Wood Ducks and plenty of Mottled Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, the Blue-winged Teal that was present through at least the 13th was nowhere to be seen. The water is now too high for mud flats, and the shoreline vegetation is encroaching on the open water to such an extent that it looks about a third smaller than it did at the beginning of the June Challenge.

I see that the Ospreys have left the nest near the GPD office. The young Osprey on the powerline support overlooking the sidewalk that leads to La Chua is fully feathered and ready to fly – but still being fed by its parents as of the 24th. Kids these days.

I’ve just become aware of a Flickr group called “Alachua County Birding” that Sam Ewing set up last September. If you’re a photographer and you’d like to join and contribute bird pictures, here’s the link: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2753272@N22/pool/

Google Earth and Google Maps are finally showing Sweetwater Wetlands Park. It’s not a recent depiction – the driveway is still unpaved – but it’s much better than it was.

Katherine Edison, on the verge of a move to Athens, Georgia, wrote a beautiful farewell to her yard and all its flora and fauna: http://earthteachme.blogspot.com/2015/07/closer-to-home.html

Be sure to share that information about Paynes Prairie (here) with all your Facebook friends. And sign the petition set up by Shirley Lasseter: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/paynes-prairie-in-danger.fb51?source=s.fb&r_by=46840

Paynes Prairie in danger

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

You may have read in the papers that Governor Scott is encouraging private business to rent our State Parks for grazing cattle or growing trees. Myakka River was first, but Paynes Prairie is now in the sights. Cattle ranch owners have already been invited to government meetings to discuss setting aside part of the Prairie for grazing cattle. Whether or not you support Governor Scott on other issues, you will hopefully agree that this is a misuse of our park system. Forbidding certain sectors of publicly-owned land to the general public, while allowing a small subset of the public to use those sectors for individual profit, is not what the State Parks were created for, but it seems to be what the current administration has in mind.

Jim Stevenson, the retired Chief Naturalist of the State Park system (not to be confused with the cat-shooting Jim Stevenson of Galveston, Texas), has sketched out the strategy that Governor Scott, his appointees, and like-minded legislators have mapped out in order to achieve this end. Here is Jim’s view of “The Big Picture”:
A few years ago, Governor Scott’s previous DEP Secretary told his deputy secretary that he wanted to privatize the entire state park system. The deputy advised against it, knowing there would be a huge public outcry.

The current game plan to reach that goal:

1. Exploit the natural resources through hunting, cattle grazing and timbering which will require “private” contractors and further crush morale of the park service staff.

2. Starve the parks by eliminating more staff and funding each year including professional biologists and education staff. DEP has recommended cutting 209 park service positions during the Scott administration. Instead, the Legislature cut 78 positions.

3. In the absence of adequate staff and funding, the parks won’t be able to get their job done.

4. Gov. Scott increases “Free Days” which reduces revenue while park managers are struggling to increase revenue.

5. The parks’ facilities and resources will deteriorate and the politicians will criticize the poor management.

6. Since the park service will not been able to maintain the resources, DEP is justified to “privatize the state park system.” Of course government should be run like a business.

End Game is achieved.

“The first sign of tyranny is government’s complicity in privatizing the commons for private gain.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The future of Florida’s state parks depends on your apathy or your action. It is your choice.
That’s the end of Jim’s statement.

It’s important to remember that the Park Service is not a willing participant in this process. The Park Service is under attack. It’s our job to stand with them against Governor Scott and his allies. Emails and phone calls to the governor and cabinet members will be helpful in stopping this anti-park, anti-nature, anti-human-being plan from becoming reality. Take a few minutes to call or email at the numbers and addresses given below and tell them what you think of their plans for Paynes Prairie right now. Communication with the cabinet – Bondi, Atwater, and Putnam – is particularly important, since they’re not getting along so well with Governor Scott right now.

Governor Rick Scott (850) 488-7146 or http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

Attorney General Pam Bondi (850) 414-3300 or http://myfloridalegal.com/contact.nsf/contact?Open&Section=Attorney_General

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (850) 413-2850 or jeff.atwater@myfloridacfo.com

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam (850) 488-3022 or http://app2.freshfromflorida.com/contact/?ID=1

Senator Rob Bradley (904) 278-2085 or https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s7 (Click on “Email this Senator)

Representative Keith Perry (352) 264-4040 or http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/emailrepresentative.aspx?MemberId=4497&SessionId=81

Representative Clovis Watson (352) 264-4001 or http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/emailrepresentative.aspx?MemberId=4541&SessionId=81

Summertime, and the birdin’ is … sort of slow, actually

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

Well, we’re past the solstice. We’ve lost eleven minutes of daylight since June 21st; sunrise this morning was nine minutes later, sunset two minutes earlier. The birds have gotten quieter. I worked in my back yard for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and during that time I heard only one American Crow and one Fish Crow. I saw a Great Crested Flycatcher, and it made me wonder when I last heard that familiar wheep! They’re usually silent during the latter half of the summer, and then start calling again in August, a few weeks before their departure for Latin American wintering grounds. When was the last time you heard a Northern Cardinal singing?

I did hear a Northern Mockingbird two days ago, imitating the song of an Eastern Phoebe, which it wouldn’t have heard since March.

Speaking of vocalizations, Frank Goodwin recorded a young Carolina Wren practicing its song in his yard on the 21st and posted it to xeno-canto. It’s a curiously random series of phrases, barely recognizable as a Carolina Wren: http://www.xeno-canto.org/253665

The best bird seen in the past couple of weeks was a Shiny Cowbird, the county’s seventh-ever, that Lloyd Davis spotted at Sweetwater Wetlands Park on July 5th. He got a photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/19529364808/in/dateposted-public/

Equally interesting – perhaps more so – is a singing Painted Bunting reported in eBird by Jessica Burnett on the 11th. Mike Manetz made a general inquiry about this, and learned that Rick Stransky had seen a male in the same location the week before. This would be only the second July record for the species in the county, and its presence in midsummer raises the question of nesting. Painted Buntings have never nested in Alachua County, so this is intriguing. Keep an eye out for a female or a family group if you go out there this weekend.

Early fall migrants continue to show up … slowly. Barbara Shea saw a Greater Yellowlegs at La Chua on the 27th, and it was seen again on the 1st by Lloyd Davis. The fall’s first Spotted Sandpiper was reported at Sweetwater Wetlands Park by Trina Anderson on the 12th. Ben and Sam Ewing have found three Louisiana Waterthrushes in the Loblolly area in the two weeks beginning on the 30th, but the Black-and-white Warbler seen by Adam and Gina Kent at their SE Gainesville home on the 14th was the first since Tina Greenberg found one in her west Gainesville yard in the final days of the June Challenge.

I’m still blogging for the Gainesville Sun, though I didn’t accomplish much on my vacation. Here’s a post on Steven Goodman and Sam Ewing’s victory in Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition: http://fieldguide.blogs.gainesville.com/392/florida-beats-georgia/

And here’s an Indigo Snake story: http://fieldguide.blogs.gainesville.com/401/the-indigo-snake-story/

Results of The June Challenge for Alachua County

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

Greetings from New York! I’m visiting my son here in the absurdly beautiful village of Sackets Harbor at the east end of Lake Ontario, a place so small that it doesn’t have a traffic light and so old that the stonework Army barracks constructed during the War of 1812 are still standing (and being used as apartments!). Anyway, I’ve been here since the 1st and so I missed the excitement at the end of this year’s June Challenge. It seems to have been our best horse race ever. This is the entire point of making it a competition, getting people out to find something new, something that otherwise wouldn’t have been discovered, like a Lesser Scaup, apparently-nesting Broad-winged Hawks, straying Least, Royal, and Caspian Terns, and early-arriving Black-and-white Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush – not to mention all the things found at the beginning of the month! The winning total of 129 sets a new record for Alachua County’s June Challenge. It’s worth noting that the second-place total of 128 ALSO sets a new record. I’d thought the previous record (126) would stand for a while, since it had been set during a drought year with lots of unexpected birds around the muddy shores of Newnans Lake. Anyway, congratulations to all our winners: Mike Manetz and Lloyd Davis tied for first, Peter Polshek at second, Howard Adams at third, and Sam Ewing, Nora Parks-Church, and Maddy Knight coming in one, two, and three in the youth category.

We had 46 participants this year, including five under the age of 16. Of those 46, precisely half saw 100 or more birds. Well done, everyone!

Bob Carroll was kind enough to act as compiler this year, receiving the emails from the participants and tallying them up for me. Thank you, Bob.

Lloyd Davis 124/5 (tie)
Mike Manetz 124/5 (tie)
Peter Polshek 122/6
Howard Adams 119/4
Danny Shehee 118/2 (photographed 107 species during the month!)
Brad Hall 115/3
Barbara Shea 114/3
Susan Jacobson 113/2
Chris Cattau 111/3
Rex Rowan 111/0
Ron Robinson 108/2
Dean Ewing 106/4
Bob Carroll 106/3
John Hintermister 106/0
Ben Ewing 105/4
Sam Ewing 105/4 (14 years old)
Deena Mickelson 105/2
Anne Casella 103/0
Marie Davis 101/5
Ellen Frattino 99/4
Will Sexton 99/2
Jennifer Donsky 98/0
Sharon Kuchinski 97/3
Katherine Edison 96/4
Erika Simons 94/4
Bob Simons 93/4
John Martin 93/3
Tina Greenberg 92/4
Debbie Segal 92/3
Becky Enneis 92/0
Anne Barkdoll 90/3
Trina Anderson 88/0
Geoff Parks 84/1
Bob Knight 82/0
Andy Kratter 81/0
Cindy Boyd 78/0
Linda Holt 77/0
Nora Parks-Church 76/1 (11 years old)
Erin Kalinowski 76/0
Maddy Knight 66/3 (5 years old)
Isaac Ewing 65/0 (6 years old)
Emily Schwartz 64/1
Scott Knight 60/0
Owen Parks-Church 55/0 (7 years old)
Bill Enneis 52/0
Sue Ann Enneis 52/0

We counted an astonishing 138 species this June, and here they are. Non-ABA-countable exotics are marked with an asterisk (*).

1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
2. Swan Goose*
3. Graylag Goose*
4. Black Swan*
5. Muscovy Duck
6. Wood Duck
7. Mallard*
8. Mottled Duck
9. Blue-winged Teal
10. Lesser Scaup
11. Helmeted Guineafowl*
12. Northern Bobwhite
13. Indian Peafowl*
14. Wild Turkey
15. Common Loon
16. Pied-billed Grebe
17. Wood Stork
18. Double-crested Cormorant
19. Anhinga
20. Brown Pelican
21. Least Bittern
22. Great Blue Heron
23. Great Egret
24. Snowy Egret
25. Little Blue Heron
26. Tricolored Heron
27. Cattle Egret
28. Green Heron
29. Black-crowned Night-Heron
30. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
31. White Ibis
32. Glossy Ibis
33. Roseate Spoonbill
34. Black Vulture
35. Turkey Vulture
36. Osprey
37. Swallow-tailed Kite
38. Mississippi Kite
39. Bald Eagle
40. Cooper’s Hawk
41. Red-shouldered Hawk
42. Broad-winged Hawk
43. Short-tailed Hawk
44. Red-tailed Hawk
45. King Rail
46. Purple Gallinule
47. Common Gallinule
48. American Coot
49. Limpkin
50. Sandhill Crane
51. Whooping Crane
52. Black-necked Stilt
53. Semipalmated Plover
54. Killdeer
55. Spotted Sandpiper
56. Greater Yellowlegs
57. Least Sandpiper
58. Semipalmated Sandpiper
59. Red-necked Phalarope
60. Laughing Gull
61. Least Tern
62. Caspian Tern
63. Royal Tern
64. Rock Pigeon
65. Eurasian Collared-Dove
66. White-winged Dove
67. Mourning Dove
68. Common Ground-Dove
69. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
70. Barn Owl
71. Eastern Screech-Owl
72. Great Horned Owl
73. Burrowing Owl
74. Barred Owl
75. Common Nighthawk
76. Chuck-will’s-widow
77. Chimney Swift
78. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
79. Belted Kingfisher
80. Red-headed Woodpecker
81. Red-bellied Woodpecker
82. Downy Woodpecker
83. Northern Flicker
84. Pileated Woodpecker
85. American Kestrel
86. Eastern Wood-Pewee
87. Acadian Flycatcher
88. Great Crested Flycatcher
89. Eastern Kingbird
90. Loggerhead Shrike
91. White-eyed Vireo
92. Yellow-throated Vireo
93. Red-eyed Vireo
94. Blue Jay
95. American Crow
96. Fish Crow
97. Purple Martin
98. Tree Swallow
99. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
100. Barn Swallow
101. Carolina Chickadee
102. Tufted Titmouse
103. Brown-headed Nuthatch
104. Carolina Wren
105. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
106. Eastern Bluebird
107. American Robin
108. Gray Catbird
109. Brown Thrasher
110. Northern Mockingbird
111. European Starling
112. Louisiana Waterthrush
113. Black-and-white Warbler
114. Prothonotary Warbler
115. Common Yellowthroat
116. Hooded Warbler
117. American Redstart
118. Northern Parula
119. Blackpoll Warbler
120. Pine Warbler
121. Yellow-throated Warbler
122. Prairie Warbler
123. Yellow-breasted Chat
124. Eastern Towhee
125. Bachman’s Sparrow
126. Summer Tanager
127. Northern Cardinal
128. Blue Grosbeak
129. Indigo Bunting
130. Bobolink
131. Red-winged Blackbird
132. Eastern Meadowlark
133. Common Grackle
134. Boat-tailed Grackle
135. Brown-headed Cowbird
136. Orchard Oriole
137. House Finch
138. House Sparrow

Final birding report of The June Challenge, containing important instructions!

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

Alachua County birders, remember to report your final June Challenge totals TO BOB CARROLL at gatorbob23@yahoo.com by midnight on June 30th. Report them in the following format: Total number of species you saw, followed by the number of ABA-countable species, then a forward slash, and then the number of non-countable species. In other words, if you saw 99 ABA-countable species and 2 non-countable species, you would submit “101 (99/2).” Non-countable species are: Black Swan, Graylag Goose, Swan Goose, and Mallard (including wild-looking Mallards and various domestic forms including the all-white Pekin ducks). Everything else, including Muscovy Duck and Whooping Crane, is countable (non-countable species will serve to break a tie). If you have any questions about this, ask Bob Carroll at the email given above. Also let Bob know if you’ll be attending the June Challenge party at Becky Enneis’s house in Alachua at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1st. There will be prizes and a big honking trophy. Bring a covered dish and your beverage of choice.

Did I say Whooping Crane? Why yes, yes I did. Peter Polshek reported a Whooping Crane from the La Chua observation platform on the 26th. It was still there today.

Also present today was a pair of Broad-winged Hawks that Peter discovered opposite the Mill Creek Preserve parking lot on the 24th. The parking lot is east of High Springs on County Road 236, just 0.3 mile west of its intersection with County Road 241. Lloyd Davis got a picture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18597406293/in/dateposted-public/

Yet another Short-tailed Hawk – the sixth in the past month – was seen by Matt Bruce and Mike Manetz over SW 20th Avenue near Hogtown Creek on the 26th.

The Lesser Scaup – if it’s a Lesser and not a Greater – remains visible off the La Chua observation platform. There has been a lot of discussion about head shape, bill size and shape, and the extent of white in the wing, but there has been no generally-agreed-upon conclusion as to the bird’s identity. Here’s a Lloyd Davis photo from a few days ago: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/19217954415/in/dateposted-public/

In case you’re still looking for a Great Horned Owl for your June Challenge list, Frank Goodwin writes, “I stumbled upon one at Morningside Park this morning (Sat.) just after 8:30 a..m., in the woods just north of the main parking lot.” He got a photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/19030399838/in/dateposted-public/

Adam Kent issues the following invitation (… or Challenge!).

“Now that the June Challenge is almost over, how about the July Throw Down? Can you find evidence of breeding Alachua County birds that are still missing from Florida’s second Breeding Bird Atlas? You can report sightings that will be part of the historical record, plus win a nifty prize*!

“Despite having probable or confirmed breeding evidence for almost 100 bird species in the county, we still only have weak breeding evidence for the following species: Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Belted Kingfisher, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Barn Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Gray Catbird, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.

“Some of these species may not breed here (e.g., the kingfisher), while others such as the Yellow-throated Warbler are fairly common. If you’ve noticed any behaviors that indicate one of these birds is likely breeding in the county, please contact Adam Kent (kestrelkent <at> yahoo.com). In addition to the obvious examples of breeding evidence such as a nest or recently-fledged young, other good indicators of breeding include: an individual bird singing in the same place on two occasions more than 7 days apart; a male-female pair seen in suitable breeding habitat; courtship behavior; distraction displays; or attacking predators near a potential nesting site.

“In addition to the birds listed above, the following birds were recorded on the state’s first atlas (1986-1991), but not yet on this atlas: Black Rail, American Woodcock, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Swainson’s Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Painted Bunting. If you find any of these birds in the county before the end of July, please let Adam know.

“Please be as specific as possible when giving directions to where the bird was seen, such as “1/2 mile south of the intersection of roads A and B.” GPS coordinates are even better and most smart phones can take them now with free programs. Hope to hear from you with your sightings. Thanks.

“*Oh yeah, what about that prize? It’s a morning of birding with Adam learning about breeding birds of the county. The winner will be the person who finds breeding evidence for the most species listed above in this email. Birds sighted during the June Challenge count as long as you can provide a date and location.”

Remember to get your results in to Bob Carroll by the 30th, and to attend the June Challenge party on the 1st!

Lesser Scaup at La Chua, Louisiana Waterthrush

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

John Martin found a scaup while scanning from the La Chua observation platform on the 21st. I was fairly certain the bird was a Greater Scaup, since it looks round-headed and big-billed in John’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thermalin/

However John wrote, “Most notable to me was the peak of the crown near the top of the head, and a good view I had of the white stripe along the secondaries (during some preening it did some good wing flapping) that extended to about half the length of the wing. I watched it for about 30 minutes, and almost the entire time it was dabbling with the head underwater. When it finally came to a rest and started preening I was able to see the peak of the head better.” Lesser Scaup do depress their crown feathers when they feed below the surface, and look very much like Greaters until they dry out a little bit, as John witnessed. Mike Manetz and Lloyd Davis saw the bird too, and both agreed that the head seemed to show a peak toward the rear of the crown. That fact, and the wing stripe as described by John, make for a satisfactory identification. Lesser is certainly more probable here, at any time of the year.

Today John sent me a video of the bird preening. Unfortunately it’s facing away, but you can get a sense of the head shape and bill size: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqes7mQlI9Q&feature=youtu.be

Joyce King lives in Bradford County, about three miles south of Keystone Heights. On the 21st she spotted a Louisiana Waterthrush along the creek in her back yard. This is three days earlier than Alachua County’s early record. But the best thing about it is that fall migration began on the 21st this year – which was technically still spring. (And of course if Louisiana Waterthrushes are in Keystone Heights, they could be here too!)

Greater Yellowlegs and Belted Kingfisher at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

In case you missed the Greater Yellowlegs from the La Chua observation platform on 1 June, there’s one at Sweetwater Wetlands Park today: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18994861221/in/dateposted-public/ If this isn’t the same bird we saw on the 1st – and to my eye it seems to have a longer bill – then it’s the earliest fall migrant in Alachua County history.

Last Sunday’s Belted Kingfisher is still there too: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18994865391/in/dateposted-public/

We’re coming down to the last third of June. Birders are still trying to track down Broad-winged Hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, and Wood Thrush. If you know where any of those birds can be found, let me know and I’ll pass the word.

The Red-headed Woodpeckers in my back yard fledged at least one youngster yesterday. “More Red-headed Woodpeckers” belongs decidedly on the good side of the world’s ledger.

Belted Kingfisher at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Short-tailed-Hawk-o-rama!

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

When I wasn’t looking, Short-tailed Hawk became the most common bird in Alachua County. We’ve had five sightings in a little more than three weeks: Matt Bruce saw one near Kanapaha Gardens on May 27th, John Martin saw one near Hunters Crossing on June 8th, Peter Polshek saw one at Lake Alice on the 12th, Lloyd Davis and Will Sexton saw one in Windsor on the 13th, and Bob Carroll saw one over Hitchcock’s in Alachua on the 17th. All were dark morphs, but even if the first three involved a single wide-ranging bird, I can’t believe it also went to Windsor and then Alachua, so I think there are at least three birds involved, maybe more. Also keep in mind that there were three sightings of dark morph Short-taileds in April. What it comes down to is this: Short-tailed Hawk = trash bird.

Last Sunday Bob Carroll wrote, “I went to Sweetwater Wetlands Park to look for the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. There were plenty of Black-crowned Night-Herons, but none of their Yellow-crowned cousins. Nonetheless, it proved to be a good day. Besides the Least Bitterns, Purple Gallinules, Limpkins, etc., I saw a King Rail and a Belted Kingfisher. Both were on the southern edge near the two covered benches. The kingfisher flew the length of the canal in front of the benches, hunting along the opposite bank. He caught a small fish, perched in the southwest corner of the property, and settled in for lunch.” That’s the only kingfisher recorded during the June Challenge this year. So far, anyway – we might get some early-returning migrants at the end of the month. At any rate, it might be worth checking SWP this weekend.

Last Saturday’s field trip to look at the Burrowing Owls of Watermelon Pond was a success. Not only did 37 people turn out – https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18869341866/in/dateposted-public/ – but a minimum of 12 Burrowing Owls were seen, half of which were recently-fledged young: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18895362865/in/dateposted-public/

Eastern Kingbirds are resident in the same area as the Burrowing Owls, and Michael Drummond got this (typically) excellent photo of one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18895903775/in/dateposted-public/

Several of us went to the Newberry Cemetery after the Burrowing Owl trip in search of White-winged Dove and Northern Flicker. No luck on the doves, but we found the flickers nesting right next door, in front of the elementary school: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18869704466/

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.

The Common Loon found by Chris Cattau at Newnans Lake on the 12th was seen again by Peter Polshek on the 13th. Mike Manetz and I decided to maximize our chances of seeing the loon by kayaking across the northern part of the lake. By my calculation, we paddled between seven and eight miles, a fair bit of that against the wind. Did we see the loon? Do you really have to ask? Of course not. The only even slightly interesting bird we saw was a Laughing Gull. Oddly, we didn’t see or hear a single Limpkin.

Ron Robinson advises, “While searching (unsuccessfully) all around the county today for Wood Ducks, I did stumble on to a group of three Mottled Ducks in the retention pond at the corner of NW 24th Boulevard and NW 53rd Avenue near Rainbow Lakes subdivision. It is on the South west corner on the intersection. I thought it might save some Challengers the walk out to the middle of the Prairie. The water level was very low, I missed them on my first scan, they were hiding in some Torpedo Grass.”

Gainesville’s doughty band of amateur naturalists is losing two important members this summer. Kathy Malone, the guiding spirit behind the local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association and an excellent photographer, moved to Tennessee earlier this month; and in fact the NABA chapter that she founded has now disbanded. And Katherine Edison, one of our best photographers and bloggers, is moving to Athens, Georgia, at the end of the summer. Katherine is making a “farewell tour” of her favorite Gainesville natural areas this month and writing about them in her blog. I think this link will take you to the first one in the “30 Days in June” series (but remember you have to scroll down): http://earthteachme.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2015-06-05T10:36:00-04:00&max-results=12&start=8&by-date=false

An appropriations bill that just passed the House of Representatives will prevent enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treatment Act of 1918, and Congress needs to hear from you about that. The American Birding Association explains it very well: http://blog.aba.org/2015/06/what-birders-should-know-about-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-threat.html  Cindy Boyd told me that someone knocked down the Chimney Swift roost/nesting site at Creekside Mall. I don’t know whether birds were nesting in it at the time, but if this bill passes the Senate and gets signed into law, it wouldn’t matter whether birds were nesting in it or not. Nesting birds wouldn’t be protected anywhere.

Belted Kingfisher at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Short-tailed-Hawk-o-rama!

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

When I wasn’t looking, Short-tailed Hawk became the most common bird in Alachua County. We’ve had five sightings in a little more than three weeks: Matt Bruce saw one near Kanapaha Gardens on May 27th, John Martin saw one near Hunters Crossing on June 8th, Peter Polshek saw one at Lake Alice on the 12th, Lloyd Davis and Will Sexton saw one in Windsor on the 13th, and Bob Carroll saw one over Hitchcock’s in Alachua on the 17th. All were dark morphs, but even if the first three involved a single wide-ranging bird, I can’t believe it also went to Windsor and then Alachua, so I think there are at least three birds involved, maybe more. Also keep in mind that there were three sightings of dark morph Short-taileds in April. What it comes down to is this: Short-tailed Hawk = trash bird.

Last Sunday Bob Carroll wrote, “I went to Sweetwater Wetlands Park to look for the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. There were plenty of Black-crowned Night-Herons, but none of their Yellow-crowned cousins. Nonetheless, it proved to be a good day. Besides the Least Bitterns, Purple Gallinules, Limpkins, etc., I saw a King Rail and a Belted Kingfisher. Both were on the southern edge near the two covered benches. The kingfisher flew the length of the canal in front of the benches, hunting along the opposite bank. He caught a small fish, perched in the southwest corner of the property, and settled in for lunch.” That’s the only kingfisher recorded during the June Challenge this year. So far, anyway – we might get some early-returning migrants at the end of the month. At any rate, it might be worth checking SWP this weekend.

Last Saturday’s field trip to look at the Burrowing Owls of Watermelon Pond was a success. Not only did 37 people turn out – https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18869341866/in/dateposted-public/ – but a minimum of 12 Burrowing Owls were seen, half of which were recently-fledged young: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18895362865/in/dateposted-public/

Eastern Kingbirds are resident in the same area as the Burrowing Owls, and Michael Drummond got this (typically) excellent photo of one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18895903775/in/dateposted-public/

Several of us went to the Newberry Cemetery after the Burrowing Owl trip in search of White-winged Dove and Northern Flicker. No luck on the doves, but we found the flickers nesting right next door, in front of the elementary school: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/18869704466/

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.

The Common Loon found by Chris Cattau at Newnans Lake on the 12th was seen again by Peter Polshek on the 13th. Mike Manetz and I decided to maximize our chances of seeing the loon by kayaking across the northern part of the lake. By my calculation, we paddled between seven and eight miles, a fair bit of that against the wind. Did we see the loon? Do you really have to ask? Of course not. The only even slightly interesting bird we saw was a Laughing Gull. Oddly, we didn’t see or hear a single Limpkin.

Ron Robinson advises, “While searching (unsuccessfully) all around the county today for Wood Ducks, I did stumble on to a group of three Mottled Ducks in the retention pond at the corner of NW 24th Boulevard and NW 53rd Avenue near Rainbow Lakes subdivision. It is on the South west corner on the intersection. I thought it might save some Challengers the walk out to the middle of the Prairie. The water level was very low, I missed them on my first scan, they were hiding in some Torpedo Grass.”

Gainesville’s doughty band of amateur naturalists is losing two important members this summer. Kathy Malone, the guiding spirit behind the local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association and an excellent photographer, moved to Tennessee earlier this month; and in fact the NABA chapter that she founded has now disbanded. And Katherine Edison, one of our best photographers and bloggers, is moving to Athens, Georgia, at the end of the summer. Katherine is making a “farewell tour” of her favorite Gainesville natural areas this month and writing about them in her blog. I think this link will take you to the first one in the “30 Days in June” series (but remember you have to scroll down): http://earthteachme.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2015-06-05T10:36:00-04:00&max-results=12&start=8&by-date=false

An appropriations bill that just passed the House of Representatives will prevent enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treatment Act of 1918, and Congress needs to hear from you about that. The American Birding Association explains it very well: http://blog.aba.org/2015/06/what-birders-should-know-about-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-threat.html Cindy Boyd told me that someone knocked down the Chimney Swift roost/nesting site at Creekside Mall. I don’t know whether birds were nesting in it at the time, but if this bill passes the Senate and gets signed into law, it wouldn’t matter whether birds were nesting in it or not. Nesting birds wouldn’t be protected anywhere.