Wish you were here

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

Twenty Gainesville birders made the trip to Cedar Key on Wednesday to see what Tuesday’s front had grounded. It didn’t take John Hintermister long to declare, “This is not a major fallout,” but we were nonetheless pretty excited by the clusters of Indigo Buntings on the ground, the flocks of Orchard Orioles everywhere, and the numbers of warblers flitting from tree to tree. During the morning we hit all the usual spots – the fruiting mulberries behind Christ Episcopal Church, the cemetery, Andrews Circle, and the grounds of the state museum. Highlights included a Roseate Spoonbill and a Merlin flying over the church; a stream of 18 Orchard Orioles flying out of a small tree whose crown had appeared to be empty of birds; an walk around the museum during which we encountered a Scarlet Tanager, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, four Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in a flocklet, and six Painted Buntings; and the unexpectedly high numbers of three species that are normally rare in spring, Yellow, Tennessee, and Black-throated Green Warblers.

While we were finishing up at the museum we got a call from Pat Burns, who’d found a Nashville Warbler a couple of blocks north of downtown. We all went racing over to meet her, but the bird had disappeared. While we were all standing around waiting to see if it would come back, we got another phone call, this one from Dale Henderson, who’d found a female Cerulean Warbler behind the Episcopal Church. So we jumped back in our cars and drove there. The Cerulean was much better behaved than the Nashville and put on an excellent show for us. Everybody got to look at it as long as they liked. Unfortunately most of the Gainesville contingent had gone home by then, but most of those who remained decided to break for lunch. Matt O’Sullivan and I opted to keep birding, and went over to the trestle trail off Grove Street. Matt very soon found a Least Flycatcher, the day’s second Lincoln’s Sparrow, and a glorious male Magnolia Warbler. We called the remaining birders and clued them in, then went on to the airfield. We were dismayed to find that the woods bordering the runway had been fenced off for security purposes – I was told that the airfield was being used to practice drone flights – and so we weren’t able to poke around as we would have liked. But we did all right. We were peering into a little gap in the trees when a Swainson’s Warbler popped up and sat on a branch for several seconds. We walked a hundred yards down the road and Matt said, “A Golden-winged Warbler!” I saw a movement and focused my binoculars … on a Blue-winged Warbler. A moment later, the Golden-winged came into view behind it, so that I had both Blue-winged and Golden-winged in my field of view at once! A few minutes later we went back to check on the Swainson’s, and a Kentucky Warbler hopped up. We had already alerted the other Gainesville birders, and when they showed up most of them got to see the Swainson’s and the Golden-winged, but the Kentucky never reappeared.

By then it was getting late in the afternoon. We went back to the cemetery, and then the museum. We saw a Peregrine Falcon circling among Turkey Vultures, but buntings, orioles, tanagers, and warblers had all but vanished. Matt and I decided to head back to Gainesville, stopping to look at Whimbrels and American Avocets at the next to last bridge on the way out of town, and to move a young Florida Cottonmouth off the road before he became vulture food. Other birders stayed later, and for Bob Carroll and Becky Enneis it was worth it, because they found “a fabulous, breeding-plumage” Chestnut-sided Warbler at the airfield. That brought the day’s warbler total to 25 species.

The complete species list, compiled by all 20 birders in several parties, exceeded 100, but here are the highlights:

Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 1

Least Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
Gray Kingbird 4

Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Wood Thrush 1

Ovenbird 1
Worm-eating Warbler 4
Northern Waterthrush 1
Golden-winged Warbler 1
Blue-winged Warbler 3
Black-and-white Warbler 5
Prothonotary Warbler 3
Swainson’s Warbler 1
Tennessee Warbler 7
Nashville Warbler 1
Kentucky Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Hooded Warbler 7
American Redstart 4
Cape May Warbler 1
Cerulean Warbler 1
Northern Parula 9
Magnolia Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 7
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 35
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-throated Warbler 1
Prairie Warbler 3
Black-throated Green Warbler 10

Lincoln’s Sparrow 2

Summer Tanager 2
Scarlet Tanager 10
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5
Blue Grosbeak 8
Indigo Bunting 70
Painted Bunting 10

Orchard Oriole 70
Baltimore Oriole 7

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