Sunday, December 20, 2015

St. Pete CBC

My 9th Christmas Bird Count in St. Pete was windy and chilly and overall counts were down not only on the coast but all over Florida. Warm weather seems to have kept most migrants North but we venture out to count every species we can every year in hopes that the data will give us some insight of bird populations and movements.

Every year is different. Sometimes warm, sometimes freezing, but always interesting and I like getting over to the coast to see birds I don't always see in Central Florida. But, honestly, there were nota lot of birds that I couldn't find anywhere else this year. However, 9 hours walking all over Pinellas County is still fun.

We started our day out at Joe's Creek Preserve and first heard and then discovered a Great-horned Owl nest but never saw the bird.

Great-horned Owl

As the Sun continued to rise I spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk searching for breakfast in the distance and tried to get as close as I could before it flew off.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I didn't realize I had walked right by an Apiary until I turned around. It had not been here in the past few years that I was here. Hmmm.


On the other side of the mound, a few Eastern Phoebes were feeding and perching around and on many trees.

Eastern Phoebe

Birds were beginning to move about and we had a few Roseate Spoonbills flying over.

Roseate Spoonbill

We drove over toward the water treatment plant and were surprised to find a big feeding flock of warblers. Most of them were Pine Warblers.

Pine Warbler

I don't think I have ever seen so many Pine Warblers at one time before this morning. They were everywhere!

Pine Warbler

Taking a pause from trying to get a shot of the warblers (in bad light) I glanced upward and spotted a nice Circumzenithal arc overheard.

Circumzenithal arc

Just before we left that spot we found a Blue-headed Vireo joining in on the feeding frenzy.

Blue-headed Vireo

Brazillian Pepper has been encroaching many areas in the state but I was amazed by how much they are taking over in this county.

Brazillian Pepper

We had to make a stop for gas and I took the chance to walk behind the store to a check of the canal. Good thing I did. A Mottled Duck was drifting by.

Mottled Duck

Heading over to Veteran's War Memorial Park we hoped to find some shorebirds but there were not a lot of them. I had to settle for a couple of Willet feeding near the shore.


How can I resist a shot of a Brown Pelican flying by?

Brown Pelican

One of the birds we always hope to find here is the Great-horned Owl. We thought it might be hard to get since we missed it the past couple of years but as we stepped out of the van...

Great-horned Owl

Another view of the sleepy Great-horned Owl.

Great-horned Owl

Heading back to the shore we were greeted by a few nice birds to add to the list, including a quick moving Yellow-throated Warbler.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Suddenly, a flock of American Goldfinches came in to view and began feeding on

American Goldfinch

As much as I liked watching the Goldfinches, I was also focused on another bird flitting about. A Prairie Warbler.

Prairie Warbler

Then quickly back to an American Goldfinch stuffing his face.

American Goldfinch

Nearby, we stopped at a strip mall to check a pond that usually holds interesting birds. Today we only had a few birds but did have a Mallard hybrid with ducklings.

Mallard Hybrid

Our count ended and I headed out to a spot where a rare bird was sighted a few days before. As I looked for the bird I could not resist taking a shot of a Palm Warbler that posed for me too easily.

Palm Warbler

I thought I had the rare bird in my sights but after looking through the shots and enhancing I discovered it was just an Orange-crowned Warbler. Oh, well.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Another CBC under my belt in St. Pete and a good time with other birders. Next year will be a 10 year anniversary. Until then...more birds back home!

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