Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

Finding summer rarities


Danny Shehee found a drake Blue-winged Teal while exploring near the old Sweetwater Dike on the 3rd. I went out this morning, intending to follow in Danny’s footsteps, but it wasn’t necessary: the teal was right there in the marsh, well before the cypress tree that serves as a landmark. I also saw 19 Glossy Ibises and a pair of Common Ground-Doves, both of which I needed for my June Challenge list. If you’d like to try for it yourself, walk out La Chua to the water control structure – the culvert where there’s often a little waterfall these days – and then turn right, following the narrow wildlife trail for about a quarter of a mile. Then cut left along the edge of the marsh, looking off to your right. Oh heck, here’s a map.

Felicia Lee emailed this morning at 8:30 to report a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and an Orchard Oriole at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. Both are very tough birds to see here. Felicia wrote that the Yellow-crowned “circled over Cell 1, landed briefly, then circled over Cell 2.” The oriole might be easier to relocate. If you’re walking from Cell 1 to Cell 2 on the metal bridge, the first thing you see once you’re across is a grove of trees on your right. Saturday’s field trip heard an Orchard Oriole sing there, just once, but we never saw it. Felicia saw a female in the same grove this morning.

Saturday’s second June Challenge kickoff – the one for working stiffs – followed the same itinerary as Thursday’s. We started a little earlier at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, hoping to see both Chuck-will’s-widows and Common Nighthawks, but thanks to the fog we saw neither. We did, however, find Bachman’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Red-headed Woodpecker. At Windsor we saw two Bald Eagles and got a decent look at a Red-eyed Vireo; we missed Spotted Sandpiper and Laughing Gull. La Chua produced Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat … and a surprising appearance by a White-winged Dove, which flew up and landed in a tree a few yards away. And at Sweetwater Wetlands Park we saw Purple Gallinule, Least Bittern, American Coot, Common Yellowthroat, Limpkin, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Sandhill Crane. We ended up with just over 50 species for the morning.

Pied-billed Grebes can be hard to find in June. On Saturday Danny Rohan showed us one that’s been easy to see in Cell 2 at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. Cross the aforementioned metal bridge, keep going straight, turn right on the trail between Cells 2 and 3, and look to your right as you walk along. Just where the open water stops and the vegetation starts, that’s where it’s been hanging out. There’s also at least one in the retention pond where it’s nested in the past, at the corner of NE 35th Avenue and 4th Street (despite the address, this is two blocks WEST of Main Street). Tina Greenberg saw it on the 3rd.

If you’re still looking for White-winged Dove, Alicia Johansen stands ready to help you out. She writes, “White-winged Doves frequent my feeders daily. I’m looking at one right now. If any one wants to add it to their list you can give them my address: 8215 NW 4th Place.” That’s off Newberry Road a little west of I-75.

On the 3rd Lloyd Davis found a locally-rare Northern Flicker at Northeast Park (on NE 16th Avenue a little east of Main Street).

Anne Casella told me that she saw a Loggerhead Shrike the same day I failed to find them along Cellon Creek Boulevard. And the next day Becky Enneis and Linda Holt saw four! I need to tell my doctor that I’m suffering from shrike-blindness. It could be serious.

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