No news is bad news

From: Rex Rowan <>
To: Alachua County birding report

The Kirtland’s Warbler seems to have been a one-day wonder. Gary Davis wrote, “I was at San Felasco from 7:30 to 3:00 birding with Lloyd Davis, John Murphy, Bob Wallace, and others. I did not see the bird and as far as I know nobody else saw it during that time. Birding was slow all day, with no notable sightings.” Stuart Muller was philosophical: “If I could fly, I’d be back up in the air in this weather too. Lovely moment though.”

Mike Manetz walked out La Chua today. He found a Least Bittern in the canal – just where they were last year – and saw three Roseate Spoonbills at the observation platform, though they flew off as he watched. Jonathan Mays, on a different part of the Prairie, saw a spoonbill too – perhaps one of the same three – and got a photo.

Jonathan also got this photo of a singing male Prothonotary Warbler at Palm Point on the 2nd, which I’m linking here just because the color is so glorious, and to remind you that they’re resident all summer just a few miles east of Gainesville, so you should go marvel at them.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is sponsoring a Young Birders’ Network. Here’s the YBN page on eBird and here’s the Facebook page.

Speaking of eBird, a team composed of eBird project leaders just set a new North American Big Day record of 294 species, besting the old record by an astounding 30 species. The story is here. Matt Hafner, Alachua County Birder Emeritus (even though he actually lived in Marion County), gets a mention. Matt may be the best birder I’ve ever met, and I’ve met John Hintermister and Mike Manetz, so that’s saying something.

Wild Birds Unlimited is sponsoring a showing of “Birders: The Central Park Effect” at The Hipp on May 21st. For details and a link to the trailer, go here.

Florida’s 2013 legislative session is over. For environmental highlights, go here, but I can tell you that the feral cat bill died a richly-deserved death in committee.

Sumer is icumen in. I heard my first cicadas of the season tuning up in the back yard this afternoon.

And speaking of poetry, one of our local birders, Adrienne Daniel, was inspired by her backyard birds:


You are enjoyment, you are a smile,
You invite me to stay a while.
There is an order in what you do
And that can be said by very few.
You are thankful for what you receive
Or so your actions make me believe.
The seasons dictate your fashion style
And some of you travel many a mile.
I don’t know just how you know
Unless you search high and low.
Maybe it is the pull of generations past
But I sure hope this will last and last.
I am so lucky you found my home
And some of you never roam
But those of you who can’t stay for long
Always favor me with a glorious song.
The notes linger in my mind for days
And you delight in so many ways.
You all are my sunshine every day
From my first coffee to the suns last ray
To all my feathered friends I drink a toast
And hope I have been a proper host.

Kirtland’s Warbler at San Felasco Hammock, update

From: Rex Rowan <>
To: Alachua County birding report

This morning Mike Manetz went to San Felasco Hammock in hopes of finding a Connecticut Warbler. Down a side trail near the entrance he came upon a gray-headed, yellow-bellied warbler, but not the one he was seeking: it had black streaking on its gray back, a bold white eye-ring broken fore and aft, and black streaks on its sides and flanks. It was pumping its tail. Only one thing bothered him: it seemed to have a little too much white on its underparts. Otherwise it looked like a Kirtland’s Warbler.

Kirtland’s Warbler had been reported only one other time in the history of Alachua County, by Robert C. McClanahan at Bivens Arm on April 26, 1934. So this was sort of a big deal. Several of us converged on San Felasco to confirm the sighting, if possible, and hopefully add the species to our own county lists (and in most cases, including mine, state lists and life lists). We crisscrossed the second-growth oak woods where Mike had seen the bird. There were lots of warblers around, but not the one we were looking for. Some people left, some people arrived. After two and a half hours, we relocated the bird along a main trail, and confirmed that it was indeed a Kirtland’s. I called home and dictated a birding report to my daughter (she didn’t quite catch my spelling over the cell phone, thus “Kirtlane’s Warbler”). Other calls went out. People started showing up. And unbelievably, the bird stayed in the same place, disporting itself within a few yards of the trail, staying low, sometimes hopping around on the ground, and allowing for several excellent photos to be taken, like this one by Glenn Price and this one by Jonathan Mays. It was almost as if it didn’t know it was a rare bird, one of “no more than 5,000” Kirtland’s Warblers left on the face of the earth.

Will it stick around for one more day? Skies are clear, so it may continue its migration north. Still, it might be worth a look. Here are directions to where it was first seen, and where it was last seen. Park at the Millhopper Road entrance of San Felasco Hammock. Walk past the pay station, the composting toilet, and the informational kiosk, and then turn right onto the main trail. About a hundred feet on, you’ll see a spur trail that goes off to the right. That’s where Mike first saw the bird. Continue along the main trail, ignoring the trails leading off to the left, which lead you to the Moonshine Creek Loop Trail; just keep on straight. When the trail bends left, you’ll be in the right neighborhood. (Marie Zeglen writes, “Someone put a big tree branch across the trail to mark where the Kirtland’s is appearing. From there look within about the next 50-75 yards. All heights – bird was on trail a lot too and often low to ground. Others reported seeing higher too.”)

Good luck!

Kirtlane’s Warbler at San Felasco Hammock

From: Rex Rowan <>
To: Alachua County birding report

Earlier today Mike Manetz discovered Alachua county’s second ever Kirtlane’s Warbler at San Felasco’s Millhopper road entrance. Bird was rediscovered at 2:30. From the parking lot on Millhopper road walk past the paystation and the informational kiosk, get onto the main trail and then continue on the main trail but walk past the turnoff to the nature trail (Moonshine Creek trail).