Sunday 3 March 2019 81 °F
Today, thanks to my mom and dad, was one of my favorite mornings of birding of my entire life! The three of us birded Corkscrew Swamp’s famous 2.5 - mile boardwalk through a thousand-year-old bald cypress swamp and pine forest. The wildlife was STUPENDOUS! My target bird for the preserve was Brown-headed Nuthatch, a diminutive and uncommon passerine species which inhabits pine habitats of the southeast.
We arrived just before 6:45am to make the most of the early morning, and boy were we glad we did — the sightings were absolutely thrilling from the start with this female PILEATED WOODPECKER:
We were joined by a wonderful birder named John who delighted our presence with both his expertise and his cheer.
Then, we monitored the feeders at the visitor center for PAINTED BUNTINGS, and within a minute, five of these beautifully-colored songbirds had shown up! What an absolute dream!
The female was understated but also beautiful:
Then, a mixed flock of warblers moved into the nearby pine trees and among the more common species I picked out this YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER:
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER:
Then, I heard what sounded like a squeaky toy and sure enough, my life bird BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH came into view — life bird!!!!!
This spider’s web alongside the trail was neat — to reiterate, there was just SO much wildlife to see at the preserve it was unbelievable.
Male NORTHERN CARDINAL, common but beautiful:
Some flyover WHITE IBIS:
This beautiful GREAT EGRET perched in a tree alongside the trail:
BLUE-HEADED VIREO was nice:
NORTHERN PARULAE such as this individual were conspicuously abundant — we may very well have heard over one hundred this morning!
We then came to a platform overlooking a shrubby, marshy area and saw very interesting things including this LIMPKIN, a denizen of southeastern marshes:
WHITE-EYED VIREOS such as this one were present throughout the walk:
A number of SWALLOW-TAILED KITES appeared to be migrating today:
A highlight of the walk was this River Otter:
Shadow of a Green Tree Frog:
At one point I caught this Green Anole (and released it after the photo!):
A number of alligators were seen today, including both juveniles and adults:
Then, a kindly ranger stopped us to point out the nesting cavity of a Pileated Woodpecker:
And then the female came out:
Then, we happened upon a nice pocket of warblers including this BLACK-THROATED GREEN:
It was a WONDERFUL time at Corkscrew! The next stop on my agenda was Oil Well Grade Road where I was on the lookout for Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Although we dipped on that target, we did find a BALD EAGLE nest:
And a white-morph LITTLE BLUE HERON:
The third and final birding stop was Bird Rookery Swamp where my mom and I hiked for a couple of hours. It was slower but there were birds around like this LITTLE BLUE HERON:
The payoff of the hike was nice, a beautiful lake:
An AMAZING day of birding! Bird-of-the-day to my life bird Brown-headed Nuthatch with runner-up to the Painted Bunting. Truly incredible! Stay tuned — tomorrow I am headed to Picayune Strand State Forest in search of my life birds Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Short-tailed Hawk.
World Life List: 969 Species (1 life bird today: Brown-headed Nuthatch)