SCBWF January 26, 2014: Marl Bed Flats, Lake Jesup

As a general rule, anywhere that you have water, you increase your chances of seeing a great diversity of birds. The wetlands near Lake Jesup are no exceptions. The Marl Bed Flats area is surrounded by some more upland and hammock type areas as well, which made for a spectacular day of birding. Corey and Laura were co-leaders for this trip as well, and it was great to have them along.

Across the flats towards some reeds and more open water, we got a great view of some shorebirds and waders. We flushed out a few Wilson’s Snipes, which is always fun.

The big event was the appearance of an American Pipit foraging in the mud. I tried to stalk close enough to get a descent photograph, but in the end that just made it fly away (after everyone else was moving on, thank goodness).

As with the short walk along the Little Big Econ on the previous day, our walks though some of the wooded areas where we expected a bonanza of songbirds yielded very little bird activity.

We tried to flush out some sparrows through some of the brushy fields between the flats and the highway. The majority of the sparrows were no doubt Savannah Sparrows, but Tom, our trip leader, was sure he saw evidence of Grasshopper Sparrows in the mix. But sparrows’ natural camoflage and small size made it almost impossible to verify it.

We then took a quick drive over to Lake Jesup Park to see what sort of warbler activity we might catch. First, we checked out some birds at the boat ramp. The usual waders and other wetland birds were present, including a pair of Mottled Ducks, lots of Anhingas and varioius Egrets. Further out on the water we saw some Bonaparte’s Gulls, too.

The very first thing to happen, though, was that we flushed out a pair of Great Horned Owls from the Live Oaks. This led to very loud protestations from a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks.

We did encounted a nice little mixed flock of songbirds at the edge of the park, which netted us some various warblers and other small birds.

My trip list (47):

  • Fish Crow
  • Bald Eagle
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Mourning Dove
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Cattle Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Killdeer
  • Snowy Egret
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Tree Swallow
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • American Pipit
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Glossy Ibis
  • White Ibis
  • Tri-colored Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Gray Catbird
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Mottled Duck
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Anhinga
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Palm Warbler
  • Prairie Warbler
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Yellow-throated Warbler

I apologize for the lack of photographs for this trip, but trying to get eyeballs on the various birds we did see, and trying to track down sparrows was just not compatible with picture taking. The only shot I did get off was this one of a Great Egret by the boat ramp. You can see some of the breeding plumes coming in on the tail. Spring is just around the corner for Florida!

 photo great-egret.jpg
Isn’t this Egret Great?

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