North Florida Trip Report

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Posted by Brian Rapoza on 21:12:00 01/19/10

Nine birders joined Paul Bithorn and me for Tropical Audubon s annual four-day tour to Florida s panhandle. Though the weather ranged from beautiful to miserable and back again, we managed to find an amazing 163 species, six better than last year s total. Among the many memorable moments:
-A SAY S PHOEBE, seen on this trip for the third consecutive year along Ranch Road in Astatula. We also found the family of Florida Scrub-Jays that reside farther down Ranch Road.
-An ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, near the end of La Chua Trail in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Other highlights along this trail included several American Bittern, Whooping Cranes among the untold numbers of Sandhills, a Marsh Wren that briefly landed on the back of an alligator and Vesper Sparrow. We also saw wild horses, a wild boar and white-tailed deer out on the prairie, but missed the herd of bison by minutes.
-A family of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatch and a BACHMAN S SPARROW, all seen within minutes of each other as we stood in the rain in pine flatwoods along Apalachee Savannah Scenic Byway in Apalachicola National Forest. The sparrow, seen at such close range that binoculars were useless, was a first for this tour. With the assistance of special guest birders Alex Harper and Alicia Gerrety, several HENSLOW S SPARROWS and a Sedge Wren were found in pitcher plant savannah farther up the Byway. We were also joined for this portion of the tour by former TAS president Harvey Abrams.
-A single DARK-EYED JUNCO among the Chipping Sparrows and American Goldfinch at Torreya State Park; also seen were our first Red-headed Woodpeckers.
-Our first GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, seen while birding in a downpour at Florida Caverns State Park.
-A completely fogged-over Lake Seminole at Three Rivers State Park, denying us our best chance for Canvasback.
-A large flock of Canada Geese at a pond in the Southwood section of Tallahassee; they were soon joined by a SNOW GOOSE and two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. American Pipit were seen and heard at this location.
-A Northern Waterthrush, somewhat rare for the panhandle during winter, heard and briefly spotted at the bridges near the entrance to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Wood Ducks were seen in flight and RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were heard at this stop.
-A FOX SPARROW, seen by Paul s van along the road at St. Marks. Field, Song, Savannah and Swamp Sparrows were also seen along the road. King Rail was heard and Sora were heard and seen.
-At Mounds Pool 3 at St Marks, where we were joined again by Alex and Alicia, a single WHITE-FACED IBIS among the Glossies. Eagle-eyed Alex also spotted a pair of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, in flight with a pair of female Mallards. COMMON GOLDENEYE were seen offshore near the lighthouse. We saw a total of 16 waterfowl in the refuge; the others were Gadwall, American Wigeon, Blue and Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser and Ruddy Duck.
-A small flock of BLACK SCOTERS, viewed at relatively close range near the former KOA campground at Alligator Point. Also seen here were Common Loon, American Oystercatcher, Bonaparte s Gull and House Finch.
-A BLACK RAIL (!), seen crossing the road at sunset along Bottoms Road in Panacea. Paul, Robin and Al can add details for this completely unexpected sighting. Clapper Rails were heard here. The group ended this day at Posey s in Panacea, enjoying not only delicious seafood but also the company of Jean and Lynn Quincy and Harry Hooper.
-At Tall Timbers Research Station, tons of Red-headed Woodpeckers, including one at feeders at the cabin along the Stevenson Trail. Other species seen here included Northern Bobwhite, Barred Owl, White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, and Field and White-throated Sparrow.
-A female BULLOCK S ORIOLE among the many Baltimores at Fran Rutkovsky s feeders in Tallahassee. A female Summer Tanager was also present. Thanks to Fran for inviting us to view her incredible backyard, always a fitting end to this wonderful adventure.

Here s the complete trip list, including species seen en route:
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Muscovy Duck
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Black Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
Northern Bobwhite
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper s Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Black Rail
Clapper Rail
King Rail
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Whooping Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson s Snipe
Laughing Gull
Bonaparte s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Forster s Tern
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Say s Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
Florida Scrub-Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Bachman s Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Henslow s Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock s Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Brian Rapoza
Field Trip Coordinator
Tropical Audubon Society

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