Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Morning Filled With Migrants


After a nice soaking rain at about 4:00 this morning, the day dawned bright and humid. I was out about 6:15 this morning, an hour before sunrise, listening for migrants as they poured overhead. There is still a good movement of thrushes going on with Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush leading the numbers. I also heard a few Verries and at least one Wood Thrush - owner of one of the most beautiful songs of any bird that nests in North America.

There were lots of warblers chipping and lots of Indigo Bunting's buzzing and at least 2 Bobolinks in the cacophony of early morning voices.

As the sun lightened things up enough to see rattlesnakes in the grass I started moving around the 3 acre wetland outside my condo that is ringed with woody vegetation. Between this habitat and the pine forest it borders I had a successful morning for finding migrant birds.

I picked up two species new to my Sarasota County list. First was Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. This denizen of boreal forests in the northern United States and adjacent Canada winters from southernmost Mexico south to Panama. It is one species that I don't have for the West Indies and unless this guy this morning is headed directly across the Gulf to the Yucatan, its likely going to be in Cuba or Jamaica or the Cayman Islands in a day or two. And I won't be there to count it.

My second new bird for Sarasota County was a beautiful male Yellow-throated Vireo. Common and widely distributed throughout the eastern United States and Canada, Yellow-throated Vireos winter from Mexico south to northern South America and in the western Caribbean. During the nesting season this bird is much more easily heard than seen by its distinctive voice that sounds like its saying "three-up, vireo" monotonously and continuously.

Of course the best bird of the morning was the Sandhill Crane I heard and then saw nerding around in my wetland no doubt looking for frog's to scare into submission. This, the most noble of birds, was why I hated to move from Nebraska long ago.

The morning's list includes:
Anhinga
Snowy Egret
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (fly overs)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue Jay
Fish Crow
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
Veery
Swainson's Thrush
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Parula
Tennessee Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Boat-tailed Grackle

37 Species.

Not bad I would say for an hour of listening before sunrise and then 2 1/2 hours of walking around in a small patch of not-yet-destroyed South Florida. This afternoon I'm going to go work on my Manatee County list - probably at Lake Manatee State Park.

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