From: Rex Rowan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Alachua County birding report
Although the Red-necked Phalarope stuck around through the morning of the 2nd, it was not relocated in the afternoon, and several of us who went looking for it this morning spent over an hour on the observation platform without seeing it, so we figure it’s gone. The only migrants we saw, in fact, were eight Semipalmated Sandpipers. Which is not to say the morning was a waste. It was really beautiful out there, with all the blooming American Lotuses, and the birds are unusually plentiful: Least Bitterns and Purple Gallinules are more abundant than I’ve ever seen them, we counted 24 Black-necked Stilts, including five sitting on nests and a few with chicks, we saw Mottled Ducks with Mottled Ducklings, we saw three Roseate Spoonbills, and everywhere you look there are herons and waterbirds and blackbirds. On the way back, Mike Manetz and I decided to walk the old Sweetwater Dike trail in hopes of seeing a King Rail. Matt O’Sullivan had been with us, but at this point he said goodbye and headed back to his car. Mike and I didn’t see the rail, but as we were starting back we got a call from Matt, who was looking at a late Blackpoll Warbler near the boardwalk. We continued on our way, and about a quarter-mile from the main trail a couple of birds popped up from the grass. I could only follow one of them with my binoculars, but it was a female Bobolink, the latest ever recorded in the county. After a congratulatory high-five we continued on toward the Blackpoll – but neither Matt nor the warbler was there when we arrived. We spent ten minutes looking around the vicinity, but with no luck.
On the 1st and 2nd Lloyd Davis and others found a very late Tree Swallow hanging around with some Barn Swallows in the general area where we saw the Bobolink – walk out the old Sweetwater Dike to what used to be a sharp left turn, and just ahead of you there’s a shallow body of water. Mike and I looked for the Tree Swallow today, but didn’t see any sign of it, though we did see Barn Swallows feeding their fledglings there.
Peter Polshek has advice on finding a tough bird: “I saw an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at San Felasco Hammock in the swamp where the Creek Sink Trail first gets close to the open water area with the high banks where there are several large trees fallen in the water.”
Likewise, Chris Cattau can put you on a Gray Catbird: “I’m not sure if Gray Catbirds have always been as rare in June as they have been during the last few years, but if any June Challengers are seeking one now, you might direct them to the map linked below (it should come up with the satellite imagery layer, which makes interpreting the map icon notes easier). I observed it in some shrubs/tress around a tiny drainage ravine, where it was singing on/off for >45min on Monday. I stopped by on my way to work today to check whether it was still there. I heard and saw it again briefly before it flew up into some taller trees and across SW 6th ST, but I have a feeling it will be returning to same spot. https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zPh7QdAm_050.kLmvRY86lZwU&usp=sharing ” This is Tumblin Creek Park, where you may remember a Nashville Warbler wintered several years ago.
On the 1st Becky Enneis wrote, “The Northern Bobwhites were out in force this morning along Cellon Creek Boulevard. I saw 6, possibly 7. They were calling from both sides of the road. Three flew across the road in front of me and landed in the short grass at road’s edge, two more were standing in the short grass where the trailers are parked, and another was sauntering along in front of the blackberry bushes. I saw a couple more out walking, but they could have been from the original three.”
On the 2nd Anne Casella went to lots of places and saw lots of birds, “Just wanted to let you know of locations where I saw some birds today to pass on in case folks need these birds. I started out at the Hague Dairy and Cellon Creek Boulevard this morning. There was a family of Wild Turkeys foraging along NW 43rd Street on the east side past Blues Creek both on my way out and an hour later on my way back. At the dairy I found 3 American Kestrels. Two Sandhill Cranes were foraging right next to the road that runs through the dairy and 2 Common Ground-Doves were on the road just past where you sign in. At Cellon Creek Boulevard, I found all the expected species (except American Kestrel). There are also Purple Martins at the end of the road where the Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Eastern Kingbird hang out. I was able to flush a Northern Bobwhite which made up for missing the one at Longleaf yesterday. I went to San Felasco where I only saw Acadian Flycatcher although I chased both Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos around but never saw them. No Hooded Warbler, but it was a little late by this time – 9:30 and I didn’t walk that far. I went out to Newberry to look for Northern Flicker and White-winged Dove. There were state prisoners all over the cemetery mowing and weed-whacking so I went to the Country Way subdivision to get White-winged Dove – very easy – and I found a Northern Flicker at the top of a tree in the yard at the corner of SW 20th Avenue and SW 254th Street. I don’t know if this is a regular perch for the bird, but there is at least one flicker out in Newberry.”
As both Becky and Anne suggest, Cellon Creek Boulevard is a worthwhile stop for June Challengers, offering Northern Bobwhite, Swallow-tailed Kite (watch the treeline to the south), Common Ground-Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Purple Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, and Eastern Meadowlark. It’s a short road, just drive along watching the wires till you get to the power substation, then get out of your car and look around. Here’s a map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zUwrxikNCmjA.k320X2sM0ChY&usp=sharing
Becky Enneis is looking ahead to the June Challenge party on July 1st. She has a request: “Since so many birders now take cameras with them, I was wondering if maybe a June Challenge bird slideshow might be enjoyable. Birders could email me their good Challenge bird photos during the month, and I could make a slideshow of them for the party. Of course you should send only photos taken during June 2015 in Alachua County. Also, please identify the bird and tell where the photo was taken. (Example: Brown Thrasher, Cellon Creek Boulevard.)”