Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

Fall migration count results


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

As I mentioned last fall, for three years I’ve been working with the American Entomological Institute to catalog the paper wasps of north Florida. I thought the project would be about my speed – eight or nine species to work with, all pretty easily distinguishable, just about right for an amateur with a butterfly net and a stupid grin on his face. But an actual entomologist got involved, and it turns out that three to five of the “species” are actually complexes, each of which contains two to four different species. At least this seems to be the case based on markings and structural differences; it can be confirmed only by DNA analysis. Anyway, I need your help: can you direct me to any active paper wasp nests in Alachua County? At this time of the year, a lot of the wasps are males, which are more common in the fall (and can’t sting!). Since all the wasps on a nest are related, finding a nest tells us what males and females of a given species look like and helps us to document the range of variation. However you should be aware that we would need to collect both the nest and the wasps on it for the DNA analysis, so if you’re sentimentally attached to your wasps, or just want them to stay alive, please move on to the next paragraph. And just to be clear, I’m NOT talking about this kind of nest, which is the work of the Bald-face Hornet; I’m talking about something that looks like this or this or this, generally hanging from under a sheltering horizontal surface like eaves or a kiosk, or from a branch or main stem of a shrub or robust weed like dog fennel. If you know of a nest in Alachua County, and there are still wasps on it, and you don’t mind my taking it, please send me an email (a photo of the nest would be a plus, but isn’t necessary).

Announcement from City Naturalist Geoff Parks: “The City is going to be doing some maintenance at Palm Point on Monday, between approximately 1 and 3 pm. Birders should be advised that during that time there will be equipment being operated in the park which may interfere with trail use and quiet park enjoyment. Visitors should be careful not to block the gate that leads from the parking area onto the trail so that staff can have access to the gate (this is generally true but particularly important on Monday afternoon).”

And an announcement from Paynes Prairie: “Due to change in construction activities, the La Chua closure will not begin until Monday, Sept 29th and will only require part of the trail to be closed. The La Chua Trail boardwalk will remain open, and the closure will only include the portion of the trail beyond the end of the boardwalk. People will be able to park in the parking lot, access the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, and access the first portion of La Chua Trail.” Which, I assume, includes Sparrow Alley. According to the original announcement, the trail will remain closed through October 9th. But that’s okay, because in early October you should be in the woods looking at migrant warblers, not on the La Chua Trail.

Speaking of which, Palm Point has been jumping since the 18th, when Matt O’Sullivan found a male Golden-winged Warbler there. During the migration count on the 20th, the Newnans Lake team found 15 warbler species within the park itself, including a Golden-winged (presumably the same one that Matt found two days earlier), two Blue-wingeds, and two or three Blackburnians. On the 24th several birders visited and found a Canada Warbler, as well as the lingering Golden-winged. On the 25th several of us not only relocated the Canada, but we found a rare-in-fall Cape May Warbler – and of course the Golden-winged, present for its eighth straight day; once again, there were 15 species overall. Samuel Ewing got photos of a Blackburnian (here) and the Golden-winged (here), and Lloyd Davis got a picture of the Canada (click here). And on the 26th Adam Zions and “loads of other birders” relocated both the Cape May and the Canada.

This makes three Canada Warblers this fall, all in the past week: one at Forest Park by Geoff Parks on the 18th, one by Jacqui Sulek, Tina Greenberg, and the Community Education Birding Class at Lake Wauberg on the 20th, and the Palm Point bird on the 24th, 25th, and 26th. That’s as many Canada Warblers as John Hintermister has seen in Alachua County in his entire life. Along with eight Cerulean Warblers between August 21st and September 20th, that’s a lot of rare warblers.

The fall migration count was held on the 20th. We recorded 119 species, including 24 warbler species. There were some surprising misses – no House Finches, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and White-winged Doves – and some not so surprising misses – no Northern Bobwhites or Northern Flickers. There were no gulls, no terns, and no shorebirds but a Solitary Sandpiper – not even a Killdeer!

There were only 8 Loggerhead Shrikes, 4 in NW Gainesville, 3 in SW Alachua County, and 1 at Paynes Prairie’s main entrance. The first eight years we did the fall count (1995-2002), Loggerhead Shrike totals were 15, 20, 9, 18, 23, 33, 20, and 23. So there was this anomalous 9 in 1997, but all the other counts were between 15 and 33. But in 2011 there were 3 and in 2013 there were 8.

Of the 119 species recorded, 13 were represented by only a single individual: Blue-winged Teal, Northern Harrier, Solitary Sandpiper, Black-billed Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Merlin, House Wren, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Tennessee Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Bobolink. Other notables included 2 Tree Swallows, 3 Northern Rough-winged Swallows, 2 Chuck-will’s-widows, a surprising number of Palm Warblers, and lots of very late Purple Martins but few other swallows. Our count of 1044 individual warblers was one of our best ever.

Here are the totals:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 46
Wood Duck 25
Mottled Duck 16
Blue-winged Teal 1
Wild Turkey 3
Pied-billed Grebe 6
Wood Stork 20
Double-crested Cormorant 451
Anhinga 91
Great Blue Heron 39
Great Egret 77
Snowy Egret 32
Little Blue Heron 82
Tricolored Heron 21
Cattle Egret 611
Green Heron 18
Black-crowned Night-Heron 6
White Ibis 268
Glossy Ibis 154
Black Vulture 132
Turkey Vulture 181
Osprey 12
Bald Eagle 23
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper’s Hawk 7
Red-shouldered Hawk 82
Short-tailed Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 11
King Rail 3
Purple Gallinule 6
Common Moorhen 60
Limpkin 11
Sandhill Crane 16
Rock Pigeon 48
Eurasian Collared-Dove 21
Mourning Dove 128
Common Ground-Dove 3
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 12
Barn Owl 1
Eastern Screech-Owl 11
Great Horned Owl 7
Barred Owl 37
Common Nighthawk 4
Chuck-will’s-widow 2
Chimney Swift 523
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 9
hummingbird, sp. 2
Belted Kingfisher 15
Red-headed Woodpecker 18
Red-bellied Woodpecker 167
Downy Woodpecker 133
Pileated Woodpecker 97
American Kestrel 6
Merlin 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 17
Acadian Flycatcher 78
Empidonax, sp. 6
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 12
Loggerhead Shrike 8
White-eyed Vireo 603
Yellow-throated Vireo 14
Red-eyed Vireo 246
Blue Jay 254
American Crow 410
Fish Crow 108
crow, sp. 68
Purple Martin 40
Tree Swallow 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Cliff Swallow 4
Barn Swallow 12
swallow, sp. 2
Carolina Chickadee 179
Tufted Titmouse 318
House Wren 1
Carolina Wren 461
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 278
Eastern Bluebird 64
Veery 101
Swainson’s Thrush 13
Gray Catbird 14
Brown Thrasher 30
Northern Mockingbird 94
European Starling 23
Ovenbird 123
Worm-eating Warbler 12
Northern Waterthrush 56
waterthrush, sp. 1
Golden-winged Warbler 1
Blue-winged Warbler 11
Black-and-white Warbler 38
Prothonotary Warbler 11
Tennessee Warbler 1
Kentucky Warbler 5
Common Yellowthroat 232
Hooded Warbler 35
American Redstart 49
Cerulean Warbler 1
Northern Parula 174
Magnolia Warbler 4
Blackburnian Warbler 8
Yellow Warbler 70
Chestnut-sided Warbler 18
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 29
Pine Warbler 38
Yellow-throated Warbler 55
Prairie Warbler 70
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Eastern Towhee 57
Summer Tanager 35
Northern Cardinal 585
Blue Grosbeak 7
Indigo Bunting 13
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 520
Eastern Meadowlark 3
Common Grackle 248
Boat-tailed Grackle 202
Brown-headed Cowbird 401
Baltimore Oriole 6
House Sparrow 27

Remember those wasp nests!

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