Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 1, 2016 - Birding in Florida, Day 4

We had already planned to spend our last day back at St Marks and today we actually got up early enough to catch the sunrise at the lighthouse.  We set up on the observation deck next to the lighthouse just before 7AM and shot dozens of shots until about 7:45.

The sunrise wasn't spectacular, but still a very nice way to start the day.  Since we were already down here, we started our quest for more new birds by walking down the trail to the point.  There was a large group of ducks all in a line in the Lighthouse Pool - mostly Redheads with a few American Wigeons mixed in.  We saw nothing of real interest at the point except a crab boat, so I shot it so I wouldn't come away empty handed.  On the way back to the vehicle, we scanned the group of ducks again just to make sure we hadn't missed anything - and we hadn't.

Just up the road from the lighthouse is an eagle nest.  Both eagles were at the nest, so we hung around  hoping for some action.  I gave up too early and one of the eagles took off, snapped a huge limb off of a nearby tree and tried carrying it back to the nest.  It ended up dropping it, but Cindy got some excellent shots with it grasping the limb.

We tried our luck again at Headquarters Pond, but didn't see anything new.  I got an OK shot of a Black-crowned Night Heron, but got a better one later in the day when we stopped back by.  There were several juveniles and adults scattered around the perimeter of the pond that stayed there all day.

Black-crowned Night Heron

We still weren't seeing the number of birds we thought we would - and no new ones - so we decided to hike one of the dikes.  We picked the one that runs next to the East River Pool and is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail.  There weren't that many birds up here either, but it was nice to get away from the people.  It seems like most of the people that visit the refuge don't venture very far from their cars if they even bother getting out of them.

After the hike, the rest of the day was spent going back and forth from the visitor center down to the lighthouse.  At one point, the shore bird action really picked up in the mud flats of the Stoney Bayou Pool.  I have a really had time IDing these birds, so I spend a lot of time shooting everything that looks different and then try to ID them later.  One group of birds really looked different than anything I had, and Holy Cow - they were Short-billed Dowitchers and #203 on my life list.

Short-billed Dowitcher

After shooting, I realized I had Least Sandpipers in the pictures.  I've probably seen these before without knowing it, but I didn't have them on my list or ID'd in pictures, so they are #204!

Least Sandpiper

The other birds in the area turned out to be ones I already had, but I did get better pictures than what I had of some of them.  They included Dunlins, Spotted Sandpipers, Willets, Killdeer, and Semipalmated Plovers.


Spotted Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

By now it was late afternoon and the light was fading.  It didn't look like there was going to be a good sunset, so we headed back to the campground and our.  We had a great time and I was quite excited to add 7 new birds to my list.   We didn't get the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, but there's always next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment