Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 St. Pete CBC, Part 1

That time of year again! Time to head to St. Pete to count as many birds as we can in our selected count circle for the Christmas Bird Count. This year I was assigned to Area #5 in the very urban St. Pete area near Tropicana Field. Being so city like, we didn't get some species I would have expected nearly anywhere else (no Carolina Wren?) but we managed to get some nice birds along the way.

We began at Crescent Lake before dawn searching for owls in the neighborhoods. No luck. Right at dawn we returned to the lake park and started counting every thing we could see. Besides the huge number of Muscovy and Domestic duck all over the Northern side, we had a Wood Stork on a tree as theSun rose just behind the treetops.

Wood Stork

Nearby, a few Green Herons lurked in the shadows.

Green Heron

As we tried to ID a warbler in the underbrush we flushed a Black-crowned Night Heron that flew out to rest next to the stork.

Black-crowned Night Heron

There were other species added to the list but this little Gray Squirrel insisted on getting its photo taken. Fine...

TK

Small flock of wintering duck were scattered around but we decided to come back better when the light was better for some photos. They will appear in the next post. For now, we headed to Coffee Pot Bayou to the roosting spot of Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants. There were a lot but I enjoyed having a couple right next to the road for some good shots.

Brown Pelican

We also spotted a Roseate Spoonbill trying to hide in the mangrove roost and numerous Anhinga.

Brown Pelican

Next, we headed to the beach as the tide was low and we hoped to get some good shorebirds to add to the list. Killian took up a spot on the end of a jetty to record bird numbers as Jim called them out while peering through his scope.

Killian

Many birds, like this Dunlin, were close enough to not need a scope.

Dunlin

There were a lot of Least Sandpipers in the close flock. I can't recall having so many shorebirds stay so close to me. They usually scatter upon approach. I guess this area is so full of visitors that the birds take little notice.

Least Sandpiper

If something else would startle the flock they would quickly return right next to us.

Least Sandpiper

There was a nice gathering of birds loafing farther down the beach so we headed in that direction. Along the way, a Eurasian Collared-Dove strolled the beach as a Loggerhead Shrike sat atop a light pole.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Our main target was counting the 65 American White Pelican jammed at the edge of the sand spit. There were also scores of terns and Black Skimmers behind them.

American White Pelican

A Reddish Egret soon flew in and began its dancing through the shallow water in search of a meal.

Reddish Egret

We also spotted a single Herring Gull resting with a few Laughing Gulls and some Royal Terns.

Herring Gull

We were hearing Monk Parakeets near the parking lot and Killian found them on our second trip out here. They were in a tree right over a few folks getting in some training. Not a care in the world.

Monk Parakeet

Most of the Monk Parakeets were by them selves but I liked this cute pair getting their feather blown about in the breeze.

Monk Parakeet

Them they would snuggle and preen one another.

Monk Parakeet

But, we needed to head to our next stop which was a small park by a boat slip. Not too much around but a Northern Mockingbird, some Mytle Warblers, and few White Ibis.

White Ibis

Finishing up our first areas so quickly, we decided to head to the golf course a little early. We were told to return later, however, as a lot of golfers were still arriving and they thought it would be better for us to return in the afternoon. OK. Time for lunch and then back to look for a Sapsucker and other birds at the lake.

We thought the golf course might not hold that many birds, though, so we weren't totally enthused about it anyway. Boy, would we be in for a surprise. All that in the next post!

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