TAS Fort DeSoto van trip

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Posted by Alex on April 19, 2004 at 07:31:42:

The TAS trip to DeSoto was a GREAT success. I got home about 10 minutes ago, and have not gotten the final trip list count. The count may exceed into 145. Armed with our leaded Brian Rapoza, and six other birders (including me) set off in search of warblers, vireos, tanagers, and anything else that had feathers. I, myself, would finish up my Birdathon...

The trip started out with Burrowing Owl in Miami Shores just after 6:30. After picking up Todd and Ellen Snow in Hollywood, we set off to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, where we found some of the last Smooth-billed Anis in North America. We suspect they are attempting to make a nest inside the park. After reaching I-75, I managed to spot atleast 2 Snail Kites feeding just west of Markham Park.

I had never been to Government Road before, but now I know why it is so special. It is one of the only spots in South Florida to find birds of Central Florida. 2 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and a Western Flycatcher graced our presence. Ten Crested Caracaras gave killer looks, as well as a few Sandhill Cranes. In a small town about 20 miles west of Ft. Myers, Ellen Snow spotted us a Red-headed Woodpecker that flew right across the busy road and onto a road-side telephone poll. We got out and investigated the woodpecker and a pine-stand and revealed Great-crested Flycatcher, brief looks at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and some Chimney Swifts.

Our next stop were the Celery Fields in Sarasota. A few shorebirds were around, as well as Blue-winged Teal and a King Rail seen briefly. No Whistling-ducks.
A Bald Eagle was only seen well through Todd and Ellen's scope.

After lunch, it was off the DeSoto. Once on St. Petersburg, our spirits were high and we had butterflies in our stomachs (well, at least I did).
Before the enterance to the park, I had almost 100 for my Birdathon, and a few hours left to go. Merlin, Black-hooded Parakeets, and my life Whimbrel were seen near the park, too.

Once in the park, we made our first stop to Arrowhead. Nothing much was here, so we made our way to North Beach to check out what shorebirds could be seen:
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Wilson's Plover
Semipalmated Plover...

Okay, off to the East Beach Woods for migrants. The East Beach Privet Trail was slow until about half way through, when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flushed from near the trail. From there it went uphill. KENTUCKY! WOOD THRUSH! WHAT'S THAT THERE? HOODED! Ellen Snow told Brian and I that she had a Swainson's Warbler just past where we were walking. We doubled back down the trail and found our Swainson's Warbler. Some other birders were watching the tired little bird, too.

Once out of the Privet Trail and into the picnic area, a mixed flock of birds poured out from the forest. All of a sudden, we had both male tanagers, a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Orchard Orioles, and Hooded Warblers at our feet. With about 120 under my Birdathon Belt, we set off the the Mulberry Tree area.
Both orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a few warblers later, I was in search of a Blue Grosbeak which were APPARANTLY seen in the area. I found a Rose-breasted again, but no Blue. A Blue-winged Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler put on quite a show at the fountain.

We set up our scopes onto the beach overlooking an expansive mud-flat. I easily ticked off Black Skimmer and Reddish Egret; 130 and 131. One more, and I would tie Paul and Bruce Purdy for 132. While searching through a large Black Skimmer flock huddled on the far side of the inlet, Brian said words I liked to hear: Marbled Godwit. Not only was it a life bird for me, but it put me onto 132, and I had about 30 minutes left until 6:30 to break their "score". At Arrowhead, we were not able to find the Cerulean Warbler. I tied with Bruce Purdy and Paul Bithorn. We checked into our hotel, and got some sleep. Tomorrow would be more exciting than the first. Much more exciting.
I will post part two of the DeSoto trip, but I have to get ready for school.

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