TAS Trip to Ft. DeSoto

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Posted by Brian Rapoza on 18:21:41 04/19/05

Twelve birders joined Paul Bithorn and me for this weekend's TAS van trip to Ft. DeSoto. Beautiful, though windy weather and a nice selection of birds were enjoyed by all.

Saturday's first stop at Ft. DeSoto was North Beach. Not an abundance of birds, but we did see American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover and Red Knot among the more common shorebirds. At the lagoon near the concession stand we had a Great Black-backed Gull and several Common Terns among the regular gulls and terns.

Birds were again in low quantities but were of high quality as we crossed to Arrowhead Picnic Area. Seen there were Common-Ground Doves, Black-hooded Parakeets, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Wood Thrush, Worm-eating Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler. Things began to pick up as we moved on to the Mulberry Tree area. A Roseate Spoonbill was seen feeding in a ditch by the road. Seen at the mulberry trees were Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Kingbirds, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

At East Beach we had more tanagers and grosbeaks in and around the picnic area. In the woods we had more buntings, plus Swainson's Thrush as well as Swainson's, Hooded and Prothonotary Warbler.

Leaving Ft. DeSoto, we headed to JoJo's in Tierre Verde for a delicious lunch. From there we headed north to Honeymoon Island State Park, where we added to our growing list three Great Horned Owls, including a recently fledged chick, plus Common Loon and Eastern Towhee. Dunlin was added to our shorebird list along the causeway on the way out. After failing to find the entrance to Werner-Boyce State Park (note to self: never take a group to a place you've never been to yourself) we ended the day at the Perkin's on US 19 in Hudson, where we had zero Budgerigars but did see two Eastern Bluebirds behind the restaurant.

Sunday morning it was back to Ft. DeSoto. Beginning at East Beach, we had most of the same species seen on Saturday, plus Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Waterthrush and Tennessee Warbler. In the picnic area we had a cowbird that I believe was a juvenile Shiny. It had a throat color that more or less matched that of the breast, lightly streaked flanks, wings and back not much darker than the breast, a bill not noticably large or small, and a plain face. I'm not aware of any photos taken of the bird in question.

We returned to the mulberry trees, where we saw most of yesterday's species, plus Broad-winged Hawk, House Wren and Wood Thrush. At North Beach we had a pair of sleeping shorebirds whose rump pattern puzzled us. They turned out to be Willets. Maybe it was time to go. A staked-out Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen at the Visitor Center, our final new bird for Ft. DeSoto.

Our last stop was at the Celery Fields in Sarasota, where we added Least Bittern, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, nesting Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilt, Bald Eagle and Savannah Sparrow.

Once again this year, great birds and a great group. Special thanks to Paul for agreeing to co-lead. Mark your calendars for next spring!

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