Burrowing Owls 7:30 a.m. tomorrow. San Felasco on Millhopper Road 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Okay? Okay.
This morning at Palm Point I ran into Howard Adams, Brad Hall, and Linda Hensley, who told me that one of the culverts along the La Chua Trail had washed out. It’s the one just before Gator Point, the last big bend in the trail before the observation platform, so you can no longer reach the platform. “It would be about an eight-foot jump,” Brad said.
(I was at Palm Point attempting to see the Short-tailed Hawk that Mike spotted on the 6th. Mike had seen the bird at 9:30 in the morning, so I watched the treeline from 8:45 till 9:45 and then gave up. Karl Miller arrived just at 9:45 and got the Short-tailed within half an hour. It figures. Karl described its location as “actually closer to Powers Park than to Palm Point.”)
Anyway, with the La Chua observation platform inaccessible, your best bet for Whooping Crane may be the observation tower near the Paynes Prairie visitor center. Tom Wronski saw it there this morning: “I had a shift at the Paynes Prairie Visitor Center (VC) this morning, and saw the Whooping Crane from the back of the VC about 10 a.m. It was in the distance hanging out with 2 Sandhill Cranes, but I got a good look at it with the spotting scope in the VC. When I looked for it again about 10:30 a.m., I couldn’t relocate it. I checked periodically, and it was not visible again for the rest of my shift (I left about 1 p.m.).”
Mike Manetz and I ran around southern Alachua County on the morning of the 8th, starting at Barr Hammock’s Levy Loop, where, with Brad Hall, we relocated the drake Ring-necked Duck that Chris Cattau had discovered on the previous evening a mile out the north fork of the trail (Chris’s photo below). We searched unsuccessfully for a Whooping Crane at the Tuscawilla Prairie and in Evinston, found Prothonotary Warbler at River Styx, failed to raise a Northern Bobwhite across the street from the Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve parking lot (though Mike did find one there this morning), and then … and then, gentle reader, we found the Hairy Woodpeckers at Longleaf. First we spent about an hour walking around in the usual spot near the campground, but never saw or heard a thing. On the way out, Mike’s sharp ears picked up a call note from the cypress dome where Deena Mickelson had reported one on May 25th. We’d assumed that Deena’s bird was straying from the campground area, but when Mike heard the call of a second bird it dawned on us that the Hairies might be nesting in the cypress dome. We spent the next twenty minutes trying to see them, and finally succeeded in seeing the male on a tree on the eastern side of the cypress dome. And while I was standing there, peering into the dome in hopes of seeing where the birds might be nesting, a bland little warbler with a yellow patch just below the shoulder and yellow flash markings on either side of its tail flew up into a small tree – a female American Redstart! By two days the latest ever recorded in the county! We spent another twenty minutes trying to raise it again, but without success. Anyway, the location of the Hairy Woodpeckers. Walk out the White-Red Connector toward the service road. Just before you get to the service road look to your left and there’s a stand of cypress trees. The Hairies were both in there. Now Hairies are rare in peninsular Florida, so we want to minimize the disturbance as much as possible. Just stand and watch. It’s quite possible you’ll see them foraging on the edge of the cypress dome. If you see any youngsters, please let me know. It’s been a long time since anyone located an active nest in Alachua County.
Trying to find Roseate Spoonbills is kind of like playing Whack-a-Mole. They come and they go, and you never know where they’ll turn up next. Orit Schechtman and Beckie Dale found one in the Townsend neighborhood on the 3rd and 4th, but it wasn’t seen thereafter. I found one at Post Office Pond on the 6th, but it was gone within half an hour. At mid-morning on the 8th Tina Greenberg found one at Powers Park, but by lunchtime it was history. Early this afternoon Danny Rohan found one at Sweetwater Wetlands Park and posted a photo on Facebook, allowing at least a couple of June Challengers to race down to the park and add it to their lists.
Lloyd Davis, Frank Goodwin, and Mike Manetz found a King Rail at Sweetwater this morning, along the south distribution channel. Cross the red metal bridge, turn right, and stay on the trail till it makes a turn to the left. Continue down to the covered pavilion. That’s where the rail was seen, on the far side of the channel with a single chick.
See you Saturday, and maybe Sunday!