Collier County, FL
Monday 4 March 2019 81 °F
Today, my dad and I birded Picayune Strand State Forest southeast of Naples in search of two prospective life birds: Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Short-tailed Hawk. The hawk was a long shot and we basically would have to get lucky to see it, and the woodpecker is a pine forest specialist and we had a few specific locations to try for it.
As soon as we arrived to the general area where the woodpeckers are known to be, I knew it looked good because we were surrounded by (mostly burnt) pine flatwoods. We immediately found this beautiful RED-HEADED WOODPECKER:
Immature BALD EAGLE:
Every time we found a woodpecker my heart started to race — alas, this guy was just a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER:
DOWNY WOODPECKER, a close relative of the hoped-for Red-cockaded:
Then, I heard some drumming on a tree behind us and lo and behold a beautiful female RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER was picking at the bark of a pine tree. Too cool — life bird!!!!!
We then headed back to the car and on the way back I found this little toad which promptly jumped out of my hand:
The next stop was Sabal Palm Road on the other side of the state forest where we would cruise along the road and hope to get lucky with our Short-tailed Hawk. We did find this COOPER’S HAWK:
NORTHERN FLICKER, our seventh woodpecker species of the day. The others were red-bellied, red-headed, downy, pileated, red-cockaded, and the sapsucker.
There were a few WOOD STORK alongside the road:
An adult BALD EAGLE perched nearby:
GREAT BLUE HERON:
A flyby PEREGRINE FALCON was nice — it was turning into a lovely day for finding raptors.
On nearby Morgan Road we found a CRESTED CARACARA, a Florida specialty that is much more common south of the US border. Cool!
This CATTLE EGRET was found perching atop a horse:
This SWALLOW-TAILED KITE flew by. Along with the kite, our raptors were Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered, Cooper’s, & Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey, Peregrine, Caracara, and Black & Turkey Vultures if you count those as “raptors.” Alas, we never found the Short-tailed Hawk, but ten raptor species isn’t too shabby!
Then, this late afternoon & evening my mom dropped me off near Pelican Bay and I was hoping to find waterbirds, shorebirds, and a nightjar called a Chuck-will’s-widow.
I immediately found this alligator:
WHITE IBIS and a great find, a ROSEATE SPOONBILL, a bird I hadn’t found yet this trip that I was hoping to see!
Here they are with SANDERLINGS:
The mangroves glowed in the late-afternoon light:
Then, a perfect formation of BROWN PELICANS flew over:
The sunset was beautiful:
As I was listening for the Chuck-will’s-widow calling post-sunset (and swapping the many mosquitoes away), I spied this YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, another species I was hoping to find this trip:
Unfortunately, I never heard a Chuck-will’s-widow, though it was not for a lack of trying as I probably swapped away thousands of bugs tonight.
Overall, a swell day of birding! Bird-of-the-day to my life bird Red-cockaded Woodpecker with runner-up to the Crested Caracara. I’m leaving Florida tomorrow to head back to Chicago for the rest of spring break, but it sure has been a great trip!
Also, I would love to invite you to my FRESHMAN RECITAL in Chicago! I will be singing and playing piano and this show will feature a few of my friends from the area, as well. Would love to see you there!
Saturday, March 9 @3pm
Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church
744 Fair Oaks Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302
World Life List: 970 Species (1 life bird today: Red-cockaded Woodpecker)