Ft. DeSoto Trip Report, April 20-22 (Toe, you should have been there!)

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Posted by Brian Rapoza on 20:39:51 04/23/07

Ten birders joined Paul Bithorn and me this past weekend for the Tropical Audubon van trip to Ft. DeSoto Park, in St. Petersburg. Two additional birders, John Kellam and Jim Healey, joined us along the way. It was a great group; we were treated to fantastic weather and an unbelievable 176 birds! Over 100 species were seen on each of the three days of the trip. Here are the highlights, followed by the trip list:

Not knowing if Alligator Alley, closed on Thursday due to brush fires, would be open on Friday, we headed to the west coast via Tamiami Trail. A couple of stops in the stretch between Shark Valley and Big Cypress produced Snail Kite, Purple Gallinule and Limpkin, plus various waders. Our first official stop was at Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area in Punta Gorda, where we found Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, Sandhill Crane, Limpkin, Eastern Towhee and Pine Warbler. A pair of Crested Caracara were seen flying along I-75 a few miles north of Babcock Webb. Our next stop was Oscar Scherer State Park, south of Sarasota, where we added Florida Scrub-Jay (many), Northern Bobwhite (calling from an exposed perch), Eastern Screech-Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker (both heard only), Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Hooded Warbler to our trip list.

We birded Ft. DeSoto late that afternoon, as well as Saturday morning and late afternoon, plus Sunday morning. Winds were out of the northwest, shifting to northeast later in the weekend, resulting in an abundance of migrants throughout the park. By the time we departed on Sunday, we had tallied 24 species of warblers in the park, but missed at least five species reported by others: Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow-throated, Pine and Prothonotary. By far the rarest that our group saw was a female Mourning Warbler, found Saturday morning in an area known to locals as McLain's Hole (I'm not sure if the spelling is correct), north of Arrowhead Picnic Area. This sighting was reported to other birders, including Lyn Atherton, but apparently the warbler was not relocated, probably due in part to the lousy directions I provided. Other warbler species seen included Cerulean (near the fort, seen by us thanks to a tip by Carl Edwards), Swainson's (Privit Trail, East Beach Woods), Blue-winged (four, including three together in East Beach Woods), Chestnut-sided (two), Kentucky (so many, I lost count!) and Hooded (everywhere).

Other migrants included Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Gray-cheeked, Swainson's and Wood Thrush, White-eyed, Blue-headed, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo, Summer and Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted and Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting (everywhere!), Bobolink and Orchard and Baltimore Oriole. Raptors seen included Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, and two Swallow-tailed Kites (over Billy's Seafood Restaurant on Tierra Verde). The pond in Tierra Verde had Redheads, a female Canvasback and Ruddy Duck, Spotted Sandpiper and Magnificent Frigatebird. Birds seen at Ft DeSoto beaches included Common Loon, Northern Gannet, Reddish Egret, Piping Plover, Whimbrel, Red Knot and Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Saturday after lunch, we visited Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg, where Paul found another Cerulean Warbler, plus a Prothonotary Warbler. A light-morph Short-tailed Hawk was seen overhead. On our way back to Miami on Sunday, we stopped at the Celery Fields in Sarasota, where the good birds kept on coming. The highlight was a White-rumped Sandpiper, spotted in the pond next to the gazebo. Other birds tallied there included Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Sora (many), King Rail (heard only), Limpkin, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Dowitcher and Chimney Swift.

Once again, I have to thank my co-leader, Paul Bithorn, for making this trip such a blast. I know he wouldn't mind me saying that life is indeed good when you're at Ft. DeSoto during the peak of spring migration! Here's the complete trip list:

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Muscovy Duck
Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Lesser Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Northern Bobwhite
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Gannet
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
Peregrine Falcon
King Rail
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Wilson's Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Black-hooded Parakeet
Monk Parakeet
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Eastern Screech-Owl
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Gray Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay
Florida Scrub Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Swainson's Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Bachman's Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Boat-tailed Grackle
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Sparrow

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