A wave of warblers

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

This weekend’s cold front brought us a bunch of good birds. Mike Manetz told me that 20 species were seen by different birders here and there in the county. Most surprising was the huge influx of Blackburnian Warblers. They were the most abundant warbler species in Alachua County on Saturday and Sunday, reported from 16 different locations according to eBird. Adam Kent had 10 in his SE Gainesville yard on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. Sam Ewing had 9 in his NW Gainesville yard on Saturday and 12 on Sunday. Our Bolen Bluff field trip on Sunday morning, though challenging (flooded trail, mosquitoes, fast-moving treetop birds), managed to tally seven or eight. Matt O’Sullivan got a photo of one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118053703@N02/21200795339/in/dateposted/

For a normally-uncommon warbler to be so abundant relative to other species is unusual but not unprecendented. Fifty Magnolia Warblers were tallied on an Audubon field trip to Bolen Bluff a few years ago, and there were a few days one October when Bay-breasted Warblers were the most common warbler in the woods.

Blackburnians weren’t the only good birds that the front brought us on Sunday. Tennessee Warblers, the fall’s first, were observed in several locations. Sam Ewing saw one Cerulean Warbler in his yard and Adam Zions saw another at San Felasco Hammock. Golden-winged Warblers were reported in three locations, by Craig Faulhaber and Ryan Butryn at Bolen Bluff, by John Hintermister at Palm Point, and by Frank Goodwin at Lake Wauberg. Frank got a picture of his bird prying open a dead sweetgum leaf with its bill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20834057223/in/dateposted-public/

And the excitement wasn’t restricted to Gainesville. Scott Flamand and John Killian saw a Canada Warbler at Cedar Key.

It’s the time of year when you can hear the calls of migrating birds as they fly over during the night. If you wake up before dawn, step out the back door and listen for a few minutes. Andy Kratter did this on the 7th and heard “about 10 Swainson’s Thrushes pass in 5 or so minutes, giving their spring-peeper-like call notes.” And on the morning of the 14th Mike Manetz reported, “I sat out from 5 to 6 this morning and had a lot of birds going over, mostly Veerys (330 flight calls) but also Swainson’s Thrushes (5 calls), Bobolinks (2 calls), Green Herons! (7 calls from probably 4 birds), and best of all, a Dickcissel called 3 times directly overhead and relatively low!” If you’re entering a nocturnal flight call count into eBird, remember to read this first: http://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/1010492-entering-nocturnal-flight-call-counts

And speaking of vocalizations, have you noticed that Northern Mockingbirds are singing again? I’ve been hearing them almost daily. In my experience they’ll keep it up till November, and then fall silent again until February.

Is anyone still seeing Mississippi Kites?

This would have given me a nervous breakdown, but it would have been worth it (“this day’s total was well-beyond every past YEAR total”): http://cmboviewfromthefield.blogspot.com/2015/09/morning-flight-14-september-2015.html

In case you’ve only been birding around here for a year or two, here’s a Flickr photo gallery of rare birds from Alachua County: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30736692@N00/albums/72157594281975202

Bob Carroll is ready to get the Third Thursday group going again: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months! It’s time to do some birding when everyone else is at work. Our first Third Thursday stop will be at Bolen Bluff at 8:30 AM on Thursday, September 17. As far as lunch is concerned, I haven’t picked a spot yet. I’m torn between something safe (like Peach Valley – I think you guys liked it last year), something new (like Blaze Pizza in Gainesville – I’ve heard it’s really good but have never been there) or something with a wider appeal like BJ’s near the Oaks Mall. I’m open to suggestion! If you have a lunch suggestion – including any of the three I mentioned – let me know. If you’re going to join us for lunch once I make a decision – let me know! I hope to see you on Thursday. I’m really looking forward to getting the group together again!”

Would you like to be on the county’s Environmental Protection Advisory Committee? They’re looking for applicants: http://www.alachuacounty.us/Depts/Communications/Pages/Detail.aspx?itemID=9140

Canada Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler(s)

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

Ron Robinson had a Canada Warbler visit his yard west of Gainesville on the 8th. It gorged itself on the aphids covering Ron’s two sugarberry trees, and then came down to his birdbath. It was a life bird for Ron. Unfortunately it was a one-day wonder and hasn’t been seen since. Ron did manage to get several photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/109059725171331326796/albums/6192299431961706033

Jacqui Sulek found the county’s first-of-the-season Golden-winged Warbler at Bolen Bluff on the 7th, “on the southern part of the Bolen Bluff loop trail maybe 100 yards from the clearing where the trail goes down into the basin.” Mike Manetz and I took a walk around the trail on the following day. At the place where the Wilson’s Warbler had been seen – the north fork where a gully runs down the slope from the trail to the trees at the edge of the Prairie – we followed the gully down the slope in hopes of finding the Wilson’s and ended up finding a male Golden-winged instead. We ended up with only nine warbler species that day, the best of which were, in addition to the Golden-winged, three Worm-eating and four Hooded. (The Wilson’s hasn’t been reported since the 5th.)

Sam Ewing found a Cerulean Warbler in his NW Gainesville yard on the 5th. That’s the third of the fall.

The Alder Flycatcher at Sparrow Alley was still there on the morning of the 11th. I missed it on the walk out, but heard its soft “pip” on the way back to the trailhead, about a hundred feet west of the powerline cut. It flew into the trees along the old fenceline and fluttered about in there for a minute or two, flycatching and calling, and then flew across the trail again and disappeared down the powerline cut.

The fall’s first American Bittern was seen and photographed by Irina and Frank Goodwin along La Chua on the 11th: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20714939614/in/dateposted-public/

Wild Birds Unlimited is having a Seed and Suet Sale from the 12th through the 20th: http://gainesville.wbu.com/

Bob Duncan of Pensacola wrote on the 10th, “A cold front is forecast to come through northwest Florida on Saturday night, with clearing skies and NW to N winds 13 to 18 knots Saturday night and Sunday. This time of year it usually means one thing – birds! Weekend birding should be good at the migrant traps and maybe even Monday morning.” This evening Bob updated his prediction: “The original forecast from NWS Wednesday has held and actually improved some for birding as the front is a little stronger than predicted. Winds at about migrating altitude (2500 – 3000 ft) are predicted to shift from W to NW Saturday night veering to N later in the night with surface winds 15 – 20 knots N. Clearing skies behind the front should have migrants on the move. It would be better to have winds N shifting to NE overnight since most of our migrants are coming down the Appalachian corridor, but we take what we get and might get some surprises with NW winds initially. So Sunday is my preferred day to bird. However, Monday might be a sleeper since winds veer from N to NE Sunday night, though weaker in velocity. But as Jim Stevenson pointed out, the best day to bird is right after the front. It appears that the front will pass as far east as Cedar Keys Saturday night, so birding east of the NW FL – AL coasts may be good. Birds pass over our coast from the early morning hours until dawn (birds have no trouble landing at night) and those that pause at our migrant traps for refueling will be waiting for us to ID them. So bird the traps in the morning.”

We’ll have our first Alachua Audubon field trip on Saturday morning (Poe Springs) and our second on Sunday morning (Bolen Bluff). You can see trip details on our field trip schedule here (click the “+” sign at the right and then click “Read more”): http://www.alachuaaudubon.org/classes-field-trips/

Wilson’s Warbler at Bolen Bluff

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

ATTENTION ALACHUA COUNTY BIRDERS: We are very short handed filling teams for the Fall Migration Count this year. If you can identify all our resident birds and at least some fall migrants and are interested in participating on Saturday, September 19th, please contact Mike Manetz at mmanetz@yahoo.com

Matt O’Sullivan found a Wilson’s Warbler on the 3rd, “on the northern part of Bolen Bluff a little more than half way along and a little before that wooded gully.” Mike Manetz and I had birded the area earlier in the day and had seen nothing more interesting than a Blackburnian Warbler, but we obviously lack Matt’s ability or luck. The bird was still present on the 4th, seen by Bob Carroll, Becky Enneis, and Linda Holt. Wilson’s is usually a late fall migrant, with most detected in October. Previous to this, there was only one September report for the county, involving two birds found by Jack and Jessie Connor and Paul Moler at Newnans Lake on September 25, 1977. I’m aware of only four earlier records anywhere in Florida. Here’s one of Matt’s pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20963357058/in/dateposted-public/

Lloyd Davis saw two Soras along the La Chua Trail on the morning of September 3rd, and he got a photo of one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20529132734/in/dateposted-public/

I mentioned previously that American Goldfinches were reported during the last week of August, two in High Springs on the 26th and one in west Gainesville on the 29th. The latter was in Ron Robinson’s yard and he got this photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20965095979/in/dateposted-public/

Several birders spent time in Evinston on the morning of the 3rd, the day after John Menoski reported a Crested Caracara there, but the bird wasn’t relocated.

David Sibley passes along a pretty reliable way to tell Downy from Hairy Woodpecker (that is, if you can see the mark in question): http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/03/another-clue-for-identifying-downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/

The Alachua Audubon field trip schedule is on line (well, mostly). Our first field trip is September 12th. You can see the early trips here (click on the little “+” sign at the right for more information): http://www.alachuaaudubon.org/classes-field-trips/

I’ve put up blog posts about three wildflowers at the Gainesville Sun web site: “Two Wild Poinsettias” and “Spotted Beebalm.” They can be accessed here, if the Sun’s web site will cooperate: http://fieldguide.blogs.gainesville.com/

Remember to contact Mike Manetz if you can help with the Fall Migration Count.

Crested Caracara in Evinston!

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

John Menoski reports that this morning he saw a Crested Caracara in Evinston (south of Micanopy and east of 441 at the Marion County line): “I spotted the Caracara while biking about a quarter mile north of the Evinston Post Office on CR 225 heading toward CR 346. It was in the company of about a dozen Black and Turkey Vultures feeding just off the roadside. As we approached they flew into the pasture and a couple of the Blacks along with the Caracara perched on the fence posts. All of us on the ride noticed one of the birds had a white throat, black crest, white rump, and yellow legs as it flew away. Even the non-birders took notice that this bird was not a Black or Turkey Vulture. Years ago I traveled across south-central Florida on a weekly basis on business and observed these birds a lot in the open pasture lands between Lake Wales and the east coast.”

I got John’s email this afternoon and immediately drove down to Evinston to see if the bird was still around. I drove north from Evinston on 225 and then south along the same route. I saw an American Kestrel and a Fox Squirrel, but no Crested Caracara. So I then checked out the big cattle pasture immediately south of Evinston, scoping it out from both 225 and 441. Then I went back to Evinston and once more drove north along 225. Finally I checked out the Tuscawilla Prairie from 441. No sign of the caracara anywhere. However it may be worth checking the area tomorrow. This would be the seventh report for the county; the last was in January 2010.

This morning John Hintermister found one or two Alder Flycatchers along Sparrow Alley, right under the powerline. He also saw a Short-tailed Hawk.

Mike Manetz found the fall’s first Veery this morning at Palm Point. It was singing, the first time he’s heard a Veery do that in the county.

Ron Robinson found the fall’s first Baltimore Oriole at his place in west Gainesville on the 30th.

This evening Andy Kratter spotted a Cerulean Warbler in his yard, the second he’s discovered this fall (vs. zero for everybody else, so let’s step it up, guys!).

Sora and American Goldfinches in August! plus some new migrants

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

First of September. By the end of the month we’ll have more darkness than light. Sounds right existential, don’t it?

Josh Watson writes that on the 29th he and Dan Gualtieri saw a Sora at Sweetwater Wetlands Park “off the pavilion boardwalk on the right before the split.” That ties the early record set in 1997 when Christina Romagosa found one dead in the road near Lake Alice.

I think we all had high hopes for Sweetwater Wetlands Park as a shorebird hotspot this fall, since it was so good this spring. But August is over, and with it the peak of shorebird migration, and nothing ever showed up there because the water was too high. We had an unusually rainy summer, of course, but summer is almost always rainy to some degree. Will the water be lower during a normal summer? Let’s hope so. We could use a reliable shorebird spot around here.

Migrants are moving through in good numbers and good variety. No one has reported a Golden-winged yet, but they’re certainly out there.

Sam Ewing reported the fall’s only Chestnut-sided Warbler (so far) on the 25th and the fall’s only Blackburnian Warbler (so far) on the 27th, both at his NW Gainesville home.

John Martin had an excellent day at the Bolen Bluff Trail on the 30th, tallying a dozen warbler species. His best were a Blue-winged Warbler, two Worm-eating Warblers, five American Redstarts, two Hooded Warblers, and a Kentucky Warbler. He writes, “Jacqui Sulek accompanied me for half the route and found the Blue-winged Warbler early where the trail initially forks. I hung out longer at the Prairie fringe, walking the woodline east and west of where the trail levels out on the basin; I found the Kentucky to the east, about 75 feet past the ‘trail closed’ sign, just past where the dog fennel opens into a stand of trees – it appeared after I played a screech-owl call.” He got a very nice picture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thermalin/20826157900/in/dateposted/ Craig Faulhaber was out there on the same day and found a second Kentucky, “about 3/4th of the way down the left-hand (north) fork of the trail, on the prairie rim (north) side of the trail.”

Also on the 30th, Felicia Lee and Elizabeth Martin birded the Lake Wauberg area: “At the boardwalk, we saw several American Redstarts, a Yellow Warbler, and a Prothonotary. We also ran into Frank Goodwin, who said he’d seen a large flock of Prairie Warblers as well as a Blue-winged Warbler off the Lake Trail, so we went up there to check it out. We saw only 3 or 4 Prairies, but we did find the Blue-winged and over a dozen Northern Parulas pretty easily. Fun morning!”

ALSO on the 30th, Becky Enneis spotted a Kentucky Warbler in her back yard in Alachua.

I got out to Bolen Bluff about five hours after Andy Kratter saw the Cerulean Warbler on the 27th. He’d left a bunch of sticks in the middle of the trail where he’d seen the bird, spelling out “CERW,” the banding code for Cerulean Warbler, but I couldn’t locate it in that area. I kept walking till I got to the fork in the trail, and then I heard a bunch of birds in the little pond off to the left. Walking over to the pond, I found a mixed feeding flock that included nine warbler species, among them one Blue-winged Warbler as well as Andy’s Cerulean, which was an adult male. After enjoying it for a while I walked a short distance down the right fork of the trail in search of a Kentucky Warbler that Felicia Lee and Elizabeth Martin had seen five days earlier. I wasn’t able to relocate it, so I started back to the car. Along the way I met Will Sexton and Mitch Walters, who were in search of the Cerulean. I led them to the pond where I’d seen it. Only five minutes had elapsed, but every last bird in that feeding flock was gone. We spent the next half-hour or so searching the adjoining woodlands – Dotty Robbins showed up to help us – but we never relocated the flock.

American Goldfinches don’t usually get here until later in the fall – I almost never see one until November – but in the past week early birds turned up in two locations. Dennis Knisely of High Springs photographed two at his feeders on the 26th (still there on the 30th) and Ron Robinson photographed one at his place at the west end of Gainesville on the 29th (not seen since). My records show only one previous August record in the county, at Ron’s place on August 28, 1996.

One thing about eBird. Though I fully support it (I’m a regional reviewer), it does sort of give the impression that birding didn’t exist until five years ago, since 99.9% of all birding records date from 2010 or later. Luckily John Hintermister, who’s been keeping personal records for Alachua County since 1968, has been entering his old checklists into eBird ever since he signed on. So if you do a search for Golden Eagle in Alachua County, you’ll see that it has in fact been recorded here, in 1974 at Newnans Lake and in 1981 at Paynes Prairie. But if John hadn’t entered his records, you wouldn’t know that Golden Eagle had ever been seen here at all (in fact there have been six reports over the years, the most recent in 1999, but the others weren’t entered into eBird). If you do a search for Brewer’s Blackbird, you’ll find three reports, one by Robert Repenning along Wacahoota Road in February 1977, and two by John Hintermister at Paynes Prairie, one in December 1969 and one in February 1990. In fact Brewer’s Blackbird was annually recorded on the Gainesville Christmas Bird Count from 1970 to 1990 in numbers ranging from 1 to 1,000 (average 151). So eBird is of limited use if you want to know the historical status of a species. If you’re only interested in recent trends, or in what’s being seen right now, it’s gangbusters.

Remember to mail those postcards that came in The Crane!

First Cerulean and Blue-winged Warblers!

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

The next issue of The Crane (the Alachua Audubon Society newsletter) should arrive in your mailbox in the next couple of days. It will contain two inserts. One is the complete 2015-16 field trip schedule, suitable for pinning to a bulletin board or hanging on a refrigerator with a magnet. The other is a set of four pre-stamped postcards, one each for Governor Scott, Representative Perry, Representative Watson, and Senator Bradley, telling them that we’re against leasing out Paynes Prairie for cattle grazing, forestry, or hunting. Please separate these postcards at the perforations, put your name and address on each one, and drop them in a mailbox.

Andy Kratter found the first Cerulean Warbler of the season at the Bolen Bluff Trail today, “in sweetgums 100 yards from parking lot, in feeding flock with Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, etc.” Andy had ten warbler species overall this morning. In addition to the Cerulean he saw 5 American Redstarts, a Worm-eating Warbler, an Ovenbird, 2 Northern Waterthrushes, 8 Yellow Warblers, and 3 Prairies.

Debbie Segal, Trina Anderson, and Rob Norton also accumulated ten warbler species at Owens-Illinois Park and the surrounding area this morning, “along the floodplain and upland fringe (after walking through the Owens Illinois Park) on the south side of the Windsor boat ramp. In just 1.5 hours, we saw 10 warbler species, which included Worm-eating, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Hooded, Prairie, Prothonotary, American Redstart, Black-and-white, Yellow-throated, and Northern Parula. We also spotted at least one Black Tern from the lake shore at the Windsor boat ramp and several more unidentifiable terns across the lake.”

Earlier in the morning, Debbie Segal saw the fall’s first Blue-winged Warbler at her place north of the Hague dairy.

Felicia Lee and Elizabeth Martin found a Kentucky Warbler at Bolen Bluff on the 22nd, “on the south branch of the trail near the first pond/puddle on the right.” On the day after, Felicia also found the season’s first Black-throated Blue Warbler at Palm Point; “in the same tree were a Prairie Warbler, a female/juv. American Redstart, a Northern Parula, and a Black-and-white Warbler, along with about a dozen local birds.”

Greg Hart of Alachua and Ron Robinson of western Gainesville have both reported Rufous Hummingbirds at their feeders since the 23rd, though Ron’s came and went in a day.

Remember to mail those postcards!

Alder Flycatcher at Cones Dike

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

On the 16th Gallus Quigley and Gerald Walker found two Alder Flycatchers and a Willow Flycatcher at Lake Apopka Restoration Area (formerly called Zellwood) in Orange County. Mike Manetz saw the eBird report and wondered if it would be worth looking for Alder Flycatchers here too. After all, they were recorded at Paynes Prairie in each of three previous years. So on the 17th he and Lloyd Davis and I walked out Sparrow Alley, where they’d been found in August 2013 and August 2014. We saw 5 Yellow Warblers, 3 Prairie Warblers, an American Redstart, an Orchard Oriole, and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but no sight or sound of an Alder Flycatcher. So this morning Mike went over to Cones Dike, where Alders occurred for three years in a row, and near the sign announcing the end of the trail (at the Camps Canal end) he discovered one. The bird was both calling and singing, and Mike made recordings.

I took Matt O’Sullivan’s grandparents out La Chua on the 14th, and though we didn’t get them all the birds they wanted (we missed King Rail and never got a really good look at Least Bittern) we saw a male Painted Bunting near the barn, family groups of Blue Grosbeaks and Orchard Orioles near the barn, single Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites, numerous adult and juvenile Purple Gallinules, and a summering Blue-winged Teal (one of two in the area, the other being at Sweetwater Wetlands Park).

Take that, drone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr-xBtVU4lg

Dr. Karl Miller of FWC writes, “We are recruiting birdwatchers who might be interested in helping look for color banded scrub-jays within Ocala National Forest. FWC has undertaken a multi-year survival and dispersal project, banding scrub-jays at four designated long-term study sites, then tracking their survival and movements over time. We are focusing our attention on all clearcut stands that are only a few years old. They are easy walking, and much of the surveying can be done from dirt roads. We use mp3 players to broadcast calls, bring them in close, and then record any bands we see. If you know of any birders who either visit Ocala NF periodically, or would like to do so in the future, and who would enjoy keeping an eye out for banded scrub-jays, please let me know! I can set you up with what you need to get started. Each of these re-sightings of a ‘lost’ banded bird on a new territory is extremely valuable to us! I can’t pay cash rewards, but perhaps I can repay the effort by inviting those who contribute to join us one morning when we band scrub-jays in September.” Contact Karl at karl.miller@myfwc.com or 352-575-8282.

Rufous Hummingbird, Painted Bunting, Black Terns

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

On the 9th Emerson Graveley photographed an adult male Rufous Hummingbird at his place near Newberry. It’s probably the same bird that visited his place last winter, but it’s certainly the county’s earliest ever: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/20424736462/in/dateposted-public/

Also on the 9th, George Hecht of SW Gainesville noticed a male Painted Bunting at his feeder. This could be a migrating bird, but most migrant Painted Buntings pass through during October. Is it only a coincidence that a Painted Bunting was reported singing at Sweetwater Wetlands Park a month ago? Mr. Hecht lives only a mile away. Here’s a photo of the bunting: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74215662@N04/19842576963/in/dateposted-public/

On the 8th Debbie Segal and her husband Bob Knight “boated around Newnans Lake and found a small flock of 5 Black Terns feeding over the south end of the lake. We also found three Forster’s Terns feeding over the lake. We launched from the Rochelle boat ramp on the east side of the lake. As we were launching, I heard loud chipping from the floodplain on the north side of the park and easily found two Northern Waterthrushes. After boating I went back into the floodplain and found a nice assortment of woodland birds – Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula, Summer Tanager, woodpeckers (Downy, Pileated, Red-bellied), vireos (White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Red-eyed), and a few other common woodland species. These were seen around 12:30 p.m., not the best time of the day for birding. Morning birding in the floodplain may be even better.” Mike Manetz and I went out to Palm Point on the evening of the 9th in hopes of seeing the Black Terns. We saw 5-6 Laughing Gulls but no terns of any description.

You may have seen David Johnston’s obituary in Sunday’s paper. Johnston was one of the most important figures in the history of Alachua County birding. He taught zoology at the University beginning in 1963 and spent a lot of time exploring Alachua County with binoculars and shotgun. As far as I’m aware, he was the first person in 20 or 30 years to put a lot of time into studying the birds of this county. In May 1964 he discovered that Blue Grosbeaks were nesting here, having expanded their range from the north (like Indigo Buntings less than ten years earlier), he saw the first Red-breasted Nuthatch ever recorded in the county (November 30, 1968), and in Gilchrist County on January 11, 1969, he found and collected the first Sage Thrasher ever recorded east of the Mississippi River. He collected a lot of birds for the museum, and Andy Kratter commented just last week that his specimens were particularly well-prepared. He moved to Virginia in about 1979, but kept a winter home in Cedar Key, and in 2009 he self-published Cedar Key: Birding in Paradise: Finding Birds Then and Now, which contains a little history, a little advice on finding birds, and a complete list of species that have occurred there over the years, with brief notes about their status. He was sort of a cranky guy, and when Mike Manetz and I included Cedar Key in our 2006 edition of the Birdwatcher’s Guide he had plenty of criticisms, some of them bizarre – he maintained that there was no such tree as a Sand Pine and no such bird as a Long-billed Murrelet – but he backed off when I showed him the pertinent references, and later solicited my assistance with his Cedar Key book. I didn’t know him well, but I recognized him when he pulled up in his truck this spring as we were birding the road that parallels the Cedar Key airfield. He had a couple of little dogs on the seat beside him. He told me what he’d seen that morning and asked what we’d found – the typical birder’s conversation – and after a minute’s small talk he said goodbye and drove away.

Kentucky Warbler, Pectoral Sandpiper, and other migrants

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

Thoreau called it “the royal month of August.”

On the 6th Dean and Samuel Ewing checked out the shorebird situation at the Hague Dairy. Samuel wrote, “Walked around the lagoon, but found very poor shorebird habitat. Found much better habitat along NW 59th Drive, just to the east of the dairy, but almost zero shorebirds except for a nice group in the northernmost flooded field, where we had several species.” These included 15 Pectoral Sandpipers, 15 Killdeer, 4 Spotted Sandpipers, 2 Solitary Sandpipers, and 1 Least Sandpiper.

On the 5th Mike Manetz and I went looking for a Kentucky Warbler on the Bolen Bluff Trail. We didn’t find it – it’s still a little early – but we had an excellent morning nonetheless: four Black-and-white Warblers, an American Redstart, three Louisiana Waterthrushes, a Yellow Warbler, a Prairie Warbler, and two Hooded Warblers. The trail was flooded in places, thanks to the recent rains, but we’d expected that so we wore rubber boots. Another result of the rain: plenty of mosquitoes, especially along the first part of the trail, and that’s probably going to get worse as the season progresses.

On the 6th Mike found his Kentucky at San Felasco’s Millhopper Road entrance, as well as three Louisiana Waterthrushes, two Black-and-white Warblers, and several (probably resident) Hooded Warblers. Most of his birds were along the Moonshine Creek and Creek Sink Trails: “The Kentucky was up the narrow trail beyond the ‘Take only Pictures’ sign.”

The FWC’s Fox Squirrel program is up and running again. If you see one, report it: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/foxsquirrel/GetLatLong.aspx Which makes me think of Courtney Tye, who worked on this before her untimely death. I was reminded of her not long ago, when I found a memorial plaque beside a longleaf pine that had been planted in her honor at Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area (established partly to provide habitat for Fox Squirrels). And I found a moving remembrance of Courtney online: http://www.chicagonow.com/swirleytime/2014/02/courtney-tye/

I’ve posted a blog entry describing a May bird count at the islands off Cedar Key in May. It’s remarkable mainly for the excellent bird photos by Coleman Sheehy, Jr.: http://fieldguide.blogs.gainesville.com/485/bird-count-at-cedar-key/

American Avocet at Hague Dairy

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

John Hintermister just called (8:56 a.m.) to report an American Avocet at the Hague Dairy. The bird is best seen from NW 59th Drive, the road that runs north and south along the eastern edge of the dairy property. From the dairy’s back entrance (on 59th) go north to the powerlines, and the avocet is in a flooded field there. Good luck!

The visitor center at Paynes Prairie will close for remodeling on August 3rd and will remain closed until some time in January, though a temporary office trailer will be set up in the visitor center parking lot. If you’re looking for a copy of A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Alachua County, Florida, you can buy one there at the visitor center before it closes – or, if you live in Gainesville, you can pick up a copy at Wild Birds Unlimited, next door to The Flying Biscuit. Everybody needs one, it’s been voted The Great American Novel even though it isn’t a novel, which should give you some idea of how good it is!

Bookmark this page: some of you may not know that Mike Manetz is a great songwriter who once made a living as a bass player. He’s been posting some of his music on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/manetzma It’s hard to choose among so many terrific songs, but I’d particularly recommend “My Baby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (just because, as a former English major, I’m impressed with the rhyme scheme – every other line ends in “-ore”), “Clouds and Silver Linings,” which is about a father and son, and the moving “Goin’ Back to Kentucky.” They’re all good, really. Bookmark the page, as I said. Give them a listen.

As the kids would say, Awesome! This is Michigan, June 2011: https://www.facebook.com/BobAnderson23/videos/2675341286076/

Here’s something not to do: take a selfie with a rattlesnake: http://www.10news.com/news/mans-ordeal-stirs-debate-on-cost-of-treating-rattlesnake-bites My daughter comments, “This explains why peanut cans have to display a label that says, ‘Warning! Contains peanuts!'”

My latest Gainesville Sun blog deals with the Seahorse Key nest desertion and suggests a possible solution to the mystery, but you’ll have to read both Part One and Part Two.