Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

June 15, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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June Challenge birds? We got ’em right here!

Send any bird photos (or birder photos) you took during this year’s June Challenge to Becky Enneis at raenneis@yahoo.com so that she can include them in the slide show that will play during the June Challenge party.

Broad-winged Hawks have been more common this June than in years past. As mentioned in a previous email, one flew over the San Felasco Hammock parking lot on Millhopper Road as several of us gathered for a walk on the 9th. Erin Kalinowski went back on the 10th between 9:40 and 10:40 and saw it again. And on the 15th Deena Mickelson photographed one over the Mill Creek Preserve parking lot north of Alachua.

On the 8th Howard Adams and Danny Rohan found a drake Blue-winged Teal at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, in the overflow channel between Cells 1 and 2. I’ve seen no reports in eBird since, but Linda Hensley heard that it was seen again on Wednesday morning.

I found the Gray Catbird at Tumblin’ Creek Park at 7:25 on Tuesday morning. It was right where John Martin said it would be, singing in the “forested edge adjacent to where the retention pond has an obvious, wide concrete overflow pad crossing the asphalt pedestrian path along the SW side of pond.” Erin Kalinowski noted *two* catbirds there on Monday, as did Tina Greenberg on Thursday. This is the fourth straight year they’ve been singing in the park during June, but as far as I know nesting hasn’t been confirmed.

It’s interesting what they’ve done with SW 6th Street, by the way. In the past, on-road parking was not allowed, but now between Depot Road and SW 5th Avenue there’s parking on both sides of the road, both angle (“Back-In Only”) and parallel.

Last Sunday’s owl prowl at La Chua was good, really good, or excellent, depending on how late you stayed. Becky Minnick spotted a Great Horned Owl pretty early, partially hidden behind a clump of leaves in an oak, and after a few minutes it flew out to the top of a small tree and perched right out in the open for us. As dusk closed in, we headed back toward the parking lot, stopping at a point where we could see both the old barn and the former police-horse pasture. There we played the call of a Barn Owl, in hopes of luring one into view. Sometimes it takes them a little while to respond, so while we waited I asked Bob Carroll to play an Eastern Screech-Owl call as well. He did, and two screech-owls responded from the fencerow behind us, trilling simultaneously, and then one flew in. About that time, the bugs descended on us, and people started leaving. Out of the original 21, only five were still present when Gary Appelson located the screech-owl perched in a wild plum tree. We all got a nice look at it, and then headed for the parking lot … where we found three Barred Owls caterwauling in the trees overhead! We saw those well, too. We never did see or hear a Barn Owl, but we were all fairly satisfied with three owl species in one evening.

I took a boat ride all the way around Newnans Lake with Bob Knight and Debbie Segal on the evening of the 5th. We were hoping for Bald Eagles and Laughing Gulls, and maybe something a little unusual, like a coastal stray or a winter bird stranded here for the summer. We saw none of the above. But eagles are out there. Howard Adams and Brad Hall saw two from Windsor on the 4th, and Lloyd Davis photographed one along Lakeshore Drive on the 6th. They show up in other spots as well. Debbie Segal and Jennifer Donsky saw one in Evinston on the 7th,

As for Laughing Gulls, Howard and Brad saw 12 to 14 from the Windsor boat ramp on the 4th, and Bob Carroll and I saw one from Palm Point last night. I think they come and go from day to day, so keep trying.

The Brown Pelican at La Chua was seen daily from the 4th through the 9th, but hasn’t been reported since.

Still no Short-tailed Hawks. What a change from 2015, when there were five sightings, involving no fewer than three individual birds, in the first three weeks of the Challenge.

Speaking of 2015, if you still need Chuck-will’s-widow for the Challenge, here’s some advice from a June 20, 2015 birding report: “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.”

Bryant Roberts, one of the best Gainesville birders of the 1990s, moved to Broward County many years ago. He and his brother David recently did some birding and sightseeing around Trinidad, Cuba, and he’s posted several photos from that trip: https://bryantroberts.smugmug.com/Trinidad-Cuba/

June 9, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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You can call me Owl

If you’re interested, we’re going to look for Great Horned Owl and Barn Owl at the La Chua Trail on Sunday evening. Meet on the boardwalk at 8 p.m.

This morning’s San Felasco Hammock field trip was successful. It started with a bang, when a Broad-winged Hawk flew over the parking lot, giving everyone a good look – except me, since I was across the street checking the trail mileages at the informational kiosk. We went left from the kiosk, following the Yellow Trail, then cut back on the Hammock Connector, and returned to the parking lot via the Blue/Yellow Trail, a walk of about three and a quarter miles. We found the Eastern Wood-Pewee where the Yellow Trail meets the Hammock Connector, got looks at Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos along the Hammock Connector, and, shortly after turning onto the Blue/Yellow Trail, found Acadian Flycatcher and Hooded Warbler. But most of us only heard the Hooded, didn’t see it, so four of us (out of the original ten) crossed the street and walked down the Moonshine Creek Trail a little past the first bridge to a place where a creek flows over the trail, and there we found a Hooded that wasn’t so shy.

Yesterday Chris Cattau found a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron along Camps Canal. “Coming from the road, I think it would have been about 50 yards after the trail does that steep downhill drop.” He sent a map:
https://goo.gl/maps/rLZAHR3SVZ32

Two days ago Karen Brown saw a flock of Wild Turkeys “on the east side of Hague Dairy Road just before NW 156th Avenue.”

More White-winged Doves. Chris Cattau writes, “I’ve had good luck the last two years in the neighborhood just east of Newberry elementary school. This year I pulled over at the intersection of SW 254th Street and SW 17th Avenue in Newberry and saw 4-5 without even getting out of the car, including two mating in a tree in someone’s front yard, and I heard singing coming from what seemed like all directions. Last year I saw two at the same intersection with just a little more effort.” Yesterday Cindy Boyd saw two, and heard several more, in the Watermelon Pond WEA parking lot on SW 250th Street.

Chris Farrell of Audubon Florida requested that this message be distributed to all Audubon chapters in North Florida: “Julington-Durbin Preserve is a great example of Florida’s work to conserve habitats that birds depend on. The preserve is truly a special place that contains rare sandhill habitat that grades down through wetlands to the shores of Julington and Durbin Creeks. It is a wonderful refuge for people and wildlife given the highly developed surroundings. Unfortunately, local developers are attempting to purchase most of this preserve for conversion to more residential development! We need to make sure decision-makers understand the importance of this habitat and refuse the proposal. I’m asking birders to visit the preserve and send me a short summary of their experience. Did you see a unique species, an interesting behavior, or just enjoy the peace of being with nature? I will use these accounts as we talk with decision-makers to avoid losing this special place. Please send any accounts of your visits, including pictures, to Chris Farrell at cfarrell@audubon.org . Thanks for your support!” The Julington-Durbin Preserve is at 13130 Bartram Park Boulevard in Jacksonville. It’s one of only a couple of places in Duval County where you can find Bachman’s Sparrow. If you go, the e-Bird Hotspot is at https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1674650

(By the way, for those too young, too old, or outside the mainstream, the subject line refers to a pop song from 1986.)

June 8, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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Blue-winged Teal, pelican redux

This morning Danny Rohan reported a drake Blue-winged Teal at the outflow (far end, that is) of the overflow channel between Cells 1 and 2 at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

At 4:43 yesterday afternoon Erin Kalinowski emailed, “The pelican must be playing a joke on you … currently, it’s sitting on the same snag as last night. It looks very comfortable, so maybe it will stick around.”

She added, “Last night, a Great Horned Owl was perched in the same oak as last year and easily viewable.” Anyone interested in meeting at the boardwalk for Great Horned and maybe Barn Owls one evening this weekend?

June 7, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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Whooping Crane and Belted Kingfisher, among other surprises

Has anyone found a dark blue field bag with an over-the-shoulder strap? I seem to have lost it. It was a nice one – a gift from Lloyd Davis – and it contained a small Panasonic camera, a Garmin Dakota GPS device, a Belomo hand lens, a laser pointer, a tape measure, and a compass. I’ve looked around the house and in the trunk of my car, so I must have put it down while birding and then walked away from it.

If your June Challenge list needs some San Felasco birds – Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos – join me at 8 a.m. Saturday at San Felasco’s Millhopper Road parking lot and we’ll do our best to check ’em off.

As I mentioned in the last birding report, Jennifer Donsky sighted a Brown Pelican from the boardwalk at La Chua on the 4th. I went down there right away and looked around, but I never saw it. On the 5th Bob Carroll emailed to tell me that it was still there, but that I needed to scan carefully to the southwest. So I went down there right away and looked around, but I never saw it. On the 6th Erin Kalinowski emailed to tell me that it was still there, to the southwest. So this morning I went down there and looked around, but I never saw it. Is this some kind of practical joke?

Two Belted Kingfishers were found this morning. Tom Wronski photographed this one at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. And Jennifer Donsky found another at the Tuscawilla Prairie. We occasionally see early arrivals from the north in late June, but it’s rare to find kingfishers at any other time of the month. These must be spending the summer.

Jennifer – who is kicking some serious birdie butt – also found a Whooping Crane at Tuscawilla this morning. This is the younger of the two Whooping Cranes that have been spending time in Alachua County in recent years. She fledged from a wild nest in Lake County in 2015, so she’s now three years old. She tends to favor the area around the Alachua-Marion county line, having been seen as far north as the Kanapaha Prairie and the southern edge of Paynes Prairie and as far south as McIntosh. She’s been at Tuscawilla since February.

Geoff Parks writes, “There’s at least one American Robin in our neighborhood again this year. We found a singing male on NE 7th Terrace near 23rd Avenue around 8 pm on the 1st.”

Bob Knight saw a Broad-winged Hawk on the 5th, over the intersection of I-75 and US-441 in Alachua. That’s the second Broad-winged reported this month; the first was at the Canterbury Equestrian Center just east of Newberry on the 3rd.

Adam Zions had mentioned to me that he often sees White-winged Doves in the neighborhood around Home Depot Pond. I’d never noticed that myself, but Linda Hensley saw one there on the 5th, “sitting on top of a lamp next to the pond,” so he must be right.

I haven’t heard any Northern Flicker reports, but Lloyd Davis eBirded them from the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area on both the 1st and the 5th. Has anyone checked for them at Northeast Park?

There are several species that can be tough to get on The June Challenge. If you see something good – Hairy Woodpecker, Blue-winged Teal, King Rail, Short-tailed Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Barn Owl, that sort of thing – be sure to let me know, so that I can share it with everyone else. Remember, it’s a friendly competition. Many a Florida birder has told me that his or her county lacks a cohesive birding community; “It’s not like Gainesville,” they tell me. We’re fortunate here. We’re friendly. So make it a friendly competition and share your good finds. Or I’ll punch you in the nose.

Remember your write-ins, if you’re using an electronic or printed checklist: Mallard, Burrowing Owl, Ring-billed Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Loon, Bobolink, Snail Kite, American Robin.

June 4, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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Snail Kite nest confirmed! and the Burrowing Owl trip

The presence of at least four Snail Kites at Paynes Prairie and Sweetwater Wetlands Park since early April has prompted speculation as to whether they’re nesting here. Today Paynes Prairie biologist Keith Morin sent out this announcement: “Brian Jeffery, wildlife biologist from the University of Florida, inquired about surveying the Prairie and obtained a Florida Park Service permit. The City of Gainesville Nature Operations Division facilitated airboat launch at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. On Friday, I assisted Brian and MS student Alexis Cardas on a Snail Kite survey covering about 2500 acres of the flooded prairie basin. We saw at least 8 individual birds (unbanded) and finally found one nest! The nest had three young that were approximately 19-21 days old. It was determined that these nestlings were old enough to band; this is the first nest and first banded birds originating from our park and well north of the species’ normal range. We will return in a week to ten days to check back on these fledglings. We are very excited!” A banded adult male has also been photographed on the Prairie, though no one has yet been able to read the alphanumeric code on the band, so that makes 9 individual adults plus the three chicks. This is only the second nesting record in Alachua County history – the first was 99 years ago!

Sunday morning’s Burrowing Owl field trip attracted about 60 participants. I had expected more, given the heavy publicity, but maybe some people stayed home due to the weather forecast. Luckily, the rain held off. Less luckily, the owls spent the first part of the morning barely peering out of their burrows, so that we often couldn’t tell if we were looking at the top of an owl’s head or a cow patty. A large percentage of the crowd left after half an hour or so, which was unfortunate, because later in the morning the owls emerged from their burrows and stood out where we could see them. One of them even flew. We counted ten owls in the field, both adults and young, and county biologist Andi Christman, the land manager for this tract, told me that she was aware of nine active nest burrows scattered across the property, including other fields than this one. (Photos below by Jerry Pruitt.)

Mike Manetz and I had driven out to Watermelon Pond together, and after seeing the owls we stuck around like almost everyone else and birded along SW 250th Street. There was a Common Nighthawk perched in a pine, Eastern Bluebirds on the wires, Red-headed Woodpeckers in the snags, Eastern Meadowlarks in the fields, and a pair of Orchard Orioles in the oaks along the road. Our last stop was the boat ramp at the south end of 250th, but it was birdless, so we headed back. We’d only gotten a hundred yards or so when we encountered a three-foot Florida Pine Snake crossing the road. We jumped out of the car, Mike grabbed his camera, I grabbed the snake, and we got a few photos before sending it on its way. This was only the third Florida Pine Snake I’d seen in the wild during my 61 years. Two of the three have come from Watermelon Pond.

On the way back into town Mike and I stopped at the Home Depot Pond to see the Ring-billed Gull and the Pied-billed Grebe. Alas, the gull was lying dead in the grass. Bob Simons had tossed it there earlier in the morning after finding it on the road, a traffic casualty. The grebe was still alive, though. Mike spotted it swimming out from a willow tree on the back side of the pond toward the right, and we watched as it gave an extended call. The call, the plumage, and the posture (including expanded throat) were just as you see them in the first ten seconds of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVPAXlH7vHw

On their way home from Watermelon Pond, Debbie Segal, John Hintermister, and Barbara Shea stopped at the Canterbury Equestrian Center on the eastern edge of Newberry: “We were doing a drive-through to look for White-winged Doves or Eurasian Collared-Doves when we spotted a soaring raptor that was on the north side of the showgrounds. When it banked, I saw a wide white tail band. It was a Broad-winged Hawk. It then tucked its wings and streamed southward, right over us. We could clearly see the white underwings with a dark trailing edge to the wings and the broad white tail band.” This is less than two miles northeast of where Jason O’Connor reported two Broad-wingeds on April 11th.

Saturday morning’s June Challenge field trip followed the same route as Friday’s – Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, the Windsor boat ramp, Sweetwater Wetlands Park – but the birds were quieter and less cooperative. We saw about the same species as Friday’s trip, though we missed a few. Two nice surprises, though: a Spotted Sandpiper at the far end of Sweetwater Wetlands Park (thanks to Brad Hall and Howard Adams for the tip), and a Common Loon first seen in flight over Newnans Lake, which then landed on the water so that we could get a distant but identifiable look through our spotting scopes.

A Gray Catbird has been singing at the north end of Tumblin’ Creek Park, just as it did last year and the year before. Tumblin’ Creek Park is located on SW 6th Street at Depot Road, just south of the retention pond. Remember that the parking area is a one-way drive, with the entrance at the south and the exit at the north.

June 1, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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Aaaaaaand they’re off! (But they were a little off to begin with, weren’t they?)

The first day of The June Challenge went pretty well, with more surprises than I’d have expected.

The kick-off field trip started at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve at 6:15 and we got our target birds – Common Nighthawk, Bachman’s Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch – in about an hour. (Tina Greenberg was there before six and had a couple of Chuck-will’s-widows fly over as well, so I think I’ll arrive early for tomorrow morning’s field trip.) Then we went on to the Windsor boat ramp, where we whiffed on our two target birds, Bald Eagle and Laughing Gull, but our consolation prizes were great looks at Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, and Summer Tanager, plus our first surprise of the morning, a late-migrating Spotted Sandpiper flying down the boat channel. We went on to Sweetwater Wetlands Park, where we saw all the expected species, a few semi-expected species like Snail Kites (four of them), American Coot, and Roseate Spoonbill, and our second surprise of the day, a late Bobolink spotted by Debbie Segal, only the second June record for that species in Alachua County. We ended the day at noon with about 60 birds on our lists.

Park Ranger Danny Rohan came walking up while we were ogling the Bobolink and got to see it. He told us to keep an eye out for a Laughing Gull that had been hanging around, which we were never able to find, and he mentioned that the spoonbill numbers had been as high as 17 recently. While he was talking to us, he got a call from Geoff Parks, who was at the creek inflow near the sedimentation pond. Geoff had seen at least one Tree Swallow mixed in with the Northern Rough-winged Swallows there, so we executed a quick march – but only Bob Carroll, way back at the end of the line, was fortunate enough to see it fly over.

Yesterday Jennifer Donsky found a Ring-billed Gull at the Home Depot Pond, so after finishing up at Sweetwater, Barbara Shea and I drove over there, and sure enough the gull was sitting on the grassy slope leading down to the water’s edge. As near as I can tell, it has exactly one primary feather left on its right wing, none on its left wing, and no tail to speak of, so although it can fly a little it’s probably not going anywhere and may not survive very long. Barbara got a documentary photo, since there are only two or three previous June records for the county: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30736692@N00/40692387640/in/dateposted-public/

Another surprise today was a Least Tern, discovered at Depot Park by Erin Kalinowski at lunchtime. It’s the second Least this week: Felicia Lee saw one at Sweetwater Wetlands Park on May 26th.

Yesterday James Roland saw a Brown Pelican in the retention pond at Townsend, north of Glen Springs Road at NW 23rd Terrace. It was just taunting us; it refused to stick around for the Challenge. I cruised by three hours later and the pond was pelicanless.

Do you need Yellow-breasted Chat or Pied-billed Grebe for your June Challenge list? Mike Manetz suggests Bolen Bluff for the chat. He saw one there on the 15th, “singing from dead sweetgums at the base of the slope, as you look to the east.” And Brad Hall called to report a grebe at Home Depot Pond today, which he noticed (but Barbara and I missed) while looking at the Ring-billed Gull.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but may I knock your socks off? On May 28th Ian Davies and five others went birding in the dunes of Quebec’s Tadoussac Bird Observatory, along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. They started in the rain at 5:45 a.m. Nine hours and 41 minutes later they quit, having recorded 108 species of birds, of which 24 were warblers. Socks still secure? I’m not surprised, but hold on to them now, because the number of individual warblers they recorded was 721,620. As Ian wrote, “Today was the greatest birding day of my life.” He’s still young, but I feel confident that he will never have a better one. Luckily for us, he’s an eBird administrator, which means that he posted an eBird checklist with the details, and it’s illustrated with 44 photos and two videos. Check it out here, and be sure to read Ian’s introductory comments, which made me giddy: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46116491 (Thanks to Gainesville birder Min Zhao for forwarding this to me.)

May 29, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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The June Challenge! and the Burrowing Owl field trip!

(For one month only, I’m reviving the Alachua County birding reports. “Why? Oh God, why?” you ask, burying your face in your hands. For The 15th Annual June Challenge, that’s why. News and updates pertaining to next year’s Challenge and any future Challenges will be posted on the Alachua Audubon Society Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AlachuaAudubon/ But this will be a transitional year, in which news and updates will appear both on Facebook and in your inbox. So consider this fair warning: no birding reports next year, just Facebook. Go there instead. No, I don’t like it either. Sorry.)

So anyway, the Challenge begins on Friday, June 1st. As always I’ll be at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve at 6:15 a.m. to jump start it with Common Nighthawk and (hopefully) Bachman’s Sparrow, and you’re welcome to join me, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder. From Longleaf we’ll go to Newnans Lake and then to Sweetwater Wetlands Park ($5 admission for Sweetwater). You should be home by lunchtime with 40-50 species on your checklist. Directions to Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve: From Gainesville, take State Road 20 (Hawthorne Road) east. Measuring from Waldo Road, at 4.4 miles you’ll pass Powers Park, and shortly thereafter you’ll cross the bridge over Prairie Creek. Three and a half miles after that, turn right onto County Road 325 and proceed 2.3 miles to the Longleaf parking lot on the right.

If you’re otherwise occupied on the 1st and can’t join me, I’ll be in exactly the same place at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday the 2nd, and we’ll do it all over again.

On the 3rd we’ll make our annual visit to the Burrowing Owls at Watermelon Pond, courtesy of Alachua County’s Parks and Conservation Lands Department and county biologists Andi Christman and Michael Drummond. We’ll meet at the gate to the Burrowing Owl field at 7:30 a.m. To get there, go west on State Road 26 (Newberry Road) to the town of Newberry. When you come to the stop light where 26 intersects US-41, turn left onto 41 and proceed 2.9 miles to SW 46th Avenue. Turn right onto 46th and go 1.2 mile to SW 250th Street, which is a dirt road. Turn left onto 250th and go 3.0 miles to the gate. Park as best you can on the roadside. We’ll then walk half a mile to the viewing area. The preceding mileages are right for my car but should probably be considered approximate for yours. I’ve made a map if you’re confused about any of this, which allows you to zoom in for detail or zoom out for perspective: https://drive.google.com/open?id=170-j_s4JUwiLEg3b100Cq_S1yUw&usp=sharing

You probably remember, but here are the rules. There’s been one change:

  1.  All birds must be seen within the boundaries of Alachua County between June 1st and June 30th. (Non-Alachua birders are challenged to participate within your own counties.)
  2.  Each bird on your list must have been SEEN. Heard-only birds do not count; you’ve got to actually see those Chuck-will’s-widows and Eastern Screech-Owls. Consequently, don’t trust eBird with your June Challenge list, since it lists heard birds the same as seen ones.
  3.  You are free to put Muscovy Ducks, retention-pond Mallards, and Whooping Cranes on your list, but no other exotic or domestic birds this year.
  4.  You’re competing with other Alachua County birders to see who can amass the longest individual list – BUT send me an email if you find something good so that I can alert the other contestants and they can go out and look for it. It is, after all, a friendly competition. If you got a photo, send that as well so that I can share it with everybody else.
  5.  EMAIL YOUR LIST TO ME BY MIDNIGHT ON SATURDAY, JUNE 30TH. There will then be a June Challenge party at TJC creator Becky Enneis’s house in Alachua, probably on July 1st.

To help you keep track of your sightings, I’ve attached an automatic Excel checklist that Phil Laipis created several years ago. Type in the date you saw each species in the row headed “First Seen,” using the format “6/1” for June 1st, “6/2” for June 2nd, etc., and the checklist will automatically add everything up for you (you can also use “1” or “x”). If you don’t have Excel, or you prefer keeping track on a paper copy, we’ve got some trifold checklists that you can use. Just send me your mailing address and I’ll drop one in the mailbox for you.

If you win, you get The June Challenge trophy, two and a half feet tall and lovingly crafted from the finest wood-like material. Your name and your accomplishment will be engraved in the purest imitation gold and affixed to the trophy, a memorial that will last throughout all eternity, or until someone drops it onto a hard surface. You keep the trophy at your house for a year, contemplating the evidence of your great superiority to all other birders, and then the following June you either win again or you sadly pass the trophy on to the next June Challenge champion and sink back into the common mass of birderdom.

Hints for new Challengers: Bird as much as you can during the first few days and last few days of the month, to get late spring and early fall migrants; eight migrant warblers and twelve migrant shorebirds have been recorded here in June, mostly at the beginning of the month. Check the big lakes repeatedly (especially Newnans and Lochloosa) for coastal strays like gulls, terns, and pelicans. Check your email inbox or the AAS Facebook page to learn what other people are seeing and for tips on where to go. I apologize in advance for the many birding reports you’ll get in early June…

Please join us for The 15th Annual June Challenge. Good luck to all!

April 14, 2018
by Trina Anderson
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Close-up Video of Snail Kite Extracting Snail at SWP

While the Snail Kite was hunting on March 22nd, a park ranger set up a Go-Pro beside one of its customary perches. The kite returned with a snail and the Go-Pro recorded the entire grisly process of removing the operculum (the hard plate that protects the entrance to the shell) and then extracting and eating the snail. It looks like a lot of work, but the size of these exotic Apple Snails repays the labor!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVMa9ROcT-U&feature=youtu.be

March 8, 2018
by Rex Rowan
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OH YES, I’M THE GREAT PRETENDER

Hey birders: click on the following link, press the play button, and have a listen.

https://www.xeno-canto.org/403847

Great Crested Flycatcher, right? Wrong. It’s a pitch-perfect imitation of four Great Crested “wheep!” calls in a row … by a White-eyed Vireo. Over the years there have been several surprisingly early reports of Great Cresteds that were heard but not seen. I wonder how many of them were White-eyed Vireos – which also regularly mimic Summer Tanagers, Eastern Towhees, and several other species. Thanks to Frank Goodwin for sharing this (unedited) recording, made along the main drive at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park on February 25th.

Photo of White-eyed Vireo by Christopher Janus, taken along the La Chua Trail on February 17, 2018. Used with permission.

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