Word gets around fast in the birding world when there’s a rare bird somewhere in the area. I had read on some bird sites Sunday night that there was a rare Kirkland’s warbler at Fort Desoto Park. It’s listed as one of the rarest warblers in the world. They winter in the Bahamas and spend summers in Michigan. I’ve never heard of one in Florida before. I got to the park just before 7:30 the next morning and there was already a small crowd staring at the bushes where he was seen the day before. No one had seen him yet. I was thinking this is probably going to be a needle in a haystack morning but then I saw Ed. Ed Rizer drove over from the Lakeland area and he is know for being able to find anything. I’m thinking if anyone can find this bird, Ed can. About 10 minutes later I looked around and Ed had disappeared. I’m thinking “He’s going to walk around and find that bird”. Not 5 minutes later I hear him yell “He’s over here”. The bird was in a different area but close by. Everyone ran over and we all started shooting. The bird was not skittish at all. Everyone stayed pretty far back (we all had our longest lenses with us). I spent about 15 minutes taken a ton of pictures of this bird. He stayed on the ground just outside of some bushes, feeding on bugs.
Later in the morning after walking around the park, I headed back to the area where the Kirkland’s was again. He had moved over to the mangrove bushes where we originally were looking. I left the crowds of people who had driven from all over Florida to see him.
There were a lot of other migrating birds but not a lot of variety. We found one rose breasted grossbeak. An ovenbird was on the trail and there were a lot of redstart sightings.
One bird I haven’t seen in several years was a black throated blue warbler.
There were a lot of Cape May warblers all over the park.
The 2nd bird I added to my list this morning was a black whiskered vireo. There was one seen several years ago here but I couldn’t find it. After looking for this guy all morning I was about to give up and leave and someone yelled out they found him. I snapped the above and headed home since it was way past lunch time.
This was a very productive morning in late April at the park. It still seems like there are less birds coming through every year.
Busy little birds at Bok Tower Gardens. A black and white warbler, a titmouse (with a nut), a red eyed vireo and a female redstart were the only migrating birds I could find in mid-October. I realized as I was running around in the woods at Bok Tower why fall migration is much harder than spring migration. The birds are more scarce in the fall and it’s just too hot to be running around looking for tiny birds high up in the trees. Here in central Florida in the spring, if you are lucky to be out on a day when there are a lot of birds around, at least the weather is usually cooler. On this morning in October it was 85 degrees by 9:30 and the humidity was brutal. It takes a lot of patience to wait for these little birds to come down from the tops of the trees and it’s hard to be dripping in sweat. With that said, it was still a fun morning out even if I only saw a few birds.
Beauty in the pond.
A grasshopper high up in the tree. He caught my eye while I was watching a hummingbird on the other side of the tree.
I was taking a break on a bench when this little squirrel came up to me. He looks like he had a bot fly problem this summer. He should be okay though.
Reflections on the pond.
Looking down on the pond, the fish were waiting for a handout.
I stopped by my new favorite turtle pond at McGough Nature Park in early May. I went there looking for birds but had to stop and watch the turtles napping for a few minutes.
I saw this hummingbird go by in a flash and landed on a branch right in front of me on the trail. She only stayed for a few seconds and then took off.
This black and white warbler was looking for bugs.
A redstart in the bushes.
A red eyed vireo high up in the tree.
My first yellow throated vireo. I watched him for a while as he picked up worms and caterpillars in the tree. This beautiful bird was having a feast. Fattening up before he heads north for the summer. I found him near the closed playground.
Different patterns on the mangrove leaves along the boardwalk.
I finally was able to see a few migrating birds coming through in late April. Since the best place to see spring migration was closed (Fort Desoto Park) here in the area, we were thinking we wouldn’t get to see any birds coming through. Since some of the smaller parks were still open I was able to see a few birds. They were very skittish and stayed hidden in the bushes. Above are a hooded warbler, a redstart and an ovenbird (or at least I think it’s an ovenbird. May be a thrush of some type?).
I had not been to McGough Nature Park in Largo in years. It’s a small park that sits on the intercoastal waterway. I had heard there were a few migrating birds there so I headed out not expecting much. I had forgotten that the park has this great turtle pond. There’s a small dock that goes out over the pond and benches all around it. Turtles were all along the bank and it was very peaceful watching them hang out.
My Saturday morning “just being outside” shot from the boardwalk.
Summer Tanagers only come through the Tampa bay area twice a year during spring and fall migration. The only place I can usually find them during that time is in the woods at Fort Desoto. In mid-April the woods were full of them including young ones that were just starting to turn red and still had some of their yellow baby feathers.
Female summer tanagers are all yellow.
A few of the orange and black birds were there including the orchard oriole and the American redstart above.
The female orchard oriole is also all yellow.
A cute little wood pewee.
A Tennessee warbler.
Also flying in the mangroves.
Most of the birds on this particular Saturday morning were feeding in the mangrove bushes along the road. Huge crowds had gathered to see the birds and the people who were coming into the park to fish or hit the beach were slowing down trying to figure out what we were all staring at. People would stop in their cars and ask us what we were looking at. “Birds” was the answer. They looked at us like we were crazy. It was a fun morning to be crazy.
An immature male rose breasted grosbeak with mulberry juice on his face.
An ovenbird on the fountain.
A blackpoll warbler hanging around.
An indigo bunting.
There were still a few interesting birds moving through Fort Desoto in early May, heading north for the summer. It feels like that was so long ago. I’m just finishing editing those pictures and soon the birds will be cruising through again, this time heading south for the winter. So many birds, so little time.
All of the above look almost alike. There are a few differences in some of them. One has a black bill while the others have orange bills. I was told that morning at Fort Desoto by “bird experts” that these were flycatchers. They could be eastern woodpee or a least flycatcher. They all looked like eastern phoebes to me.
There were a few redstarts in the trees. I’m not sure why they call them redstarts. They don’t have any red in them, only yellow and orange.
I think this is a Tennessee warbler.
A new bird for me, a Swainson’s Thrush. He was high up in the trees and I had to brighten up this one.
This looks like a young mockingbird.
A usual sight during migration, a black and white warbler.
Next year I’m going to take the time to take notes on what these birds are. I heard several times different people calling birds different things. I usually come home and look everything up but they are all starting to look the same. Please correct me if any of these are wrong.
A rare yellow billed cuckoo was the star of the day. I had seen one once before at Circle B Bar Reserve but there were many birders there that had their first sighting of one. He was high up in the tree but everyone was able to get a good shot.
The one of many palm warblers that hang out here in the winter.
White eyed vireos will be common to spot this winter.
I was told the two above were Nashville warblers. Can anyone confirm?
A brief glimpse of a Tennessee warbler.
My first Philadelphia Vireo. He was hanging around the cuckoo.
“We got fall out!” was the term used on the bird forums. Fort Desoto Park was covered in birds that had stopped for a rest on their way south for the winter in early October. I got to the park around 8am and many people already looking up in the oak trees at the picnic area. I spent several hours taking tons of pictures and had “warbler neck” from staring straight up into the trees for so long. A nap after lunch got rid of that. It’s not often you get a day where you can stand under a tree and see so many different birds.
Bay breasted warbler. This one is fairly rare around here, even during migration.
I can’t remember what this is. Probably just a yellow rumped warbler.
I can’t remember what this is either. I think a red eyed vireo.
Black throated blue warbler.
Scarlet tanager with a snack in his beak.
I think this is a blue grosbeak. He had some brown on his feathers.
Cardinal with a half eaten grasshopper.
A nanday (black hooded) parakeet showed up in the middle of the little migrating birds. He was looking around like “What are all of these people doing in the woods?” He didn’t stay long.
It was early May and spring migration was still going on. The little birds were passing through on their way up north for the summer. Another Saturday morning with the trails packed with people. I saw my first Tennessee warbler this morning. I know I should have been more excited but really, they are all starting to look alike. Now that it’s June, not a soul is on the trails except mosquitos but the beaches are packed with tourists.