Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Birds For My Sarasota County List

Lunch today was at the Beach House Restaurant on Anna Maria Island. The weather had a nasty side to it making it a perfect day to watch for waterspouts. None formed but the clouds looked ominous enough to produce one. Maybe next time. My blackened mahi-mahi sandwich washed down with two grippingly-cold Landshark Lager beers made for an excellent early afternoon on an island, mon.

After lunch and a stroll on a Longboat Key beach to check on the Black Skimmer nesting colony there (lots of Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests also!! way cool) I drove to Lido Key beach where I tried once again for a couple of birds that had become frustrating to add to my Sarasota County list.

I scored big and early on this trip.

My first success was finding two family groups of Gray Kingbirds near one of the obnoxious condominium developments on the beach. This is by far my most favorite Caribbean/West Indian bird and has been since I saw my first one on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, mon, on June 4, 1984.

You can learn a bit more about Gray Kingbirds at this link
Leaving the Kingbird family groups I drove further down the island to a patch of West Indian hardwood hammock that had a mangrove fringe at the water's edge. Here I finally found Black-whiskered Vireo for my county list. You can read my frustrations in searching for this bird fifteen days ago at this link.

Leaving the Vireo I drove to South Lido Beach Park where I hiked the beach (had I been a surfer today would have been a great day to try hanging 10 - there were some awesome storm-generated waves crashing ashore). As I stumbled around watching Magnificent Frigatebirds hang motionless in the winds, my first Sandwich Terns for Sarasota County sailed by me in search of some fish to scare senseless before making them into dinner.

I continued along the beach hoping for some Snowy Plovers or Wilson's Plovers or maybe a Willet for my county list but no such luck today. Curiously I saw all three of those shorebirds while eating lunch at the Beach House (in Manatee County) a couple hours earlier. Oh well. Another quest I guess.

All in all it was a great way to spend an afternoon - eating fish, drinking beer and watching birds. Just think my old colleagues in Washington DC are glued to a desk in Arlington Square worrying about who will be selected to be the new Branch Chief and other things that have nothing to do with resource protection. And while they did so I was enjoying natural resources. I think mine was a better location today.


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