Turkey Creek and Malabar Scrub Sanctuaries: May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers’ Day! Today’s birding adventure had me ranging farther that I’ve done recently, now that my knee has been feeling better. I spent the first couple of hours at Turkey Creek Sanctuary, mainly south of the creek itself. For most of this first portion of the hike, I could hear quite a few bird species, but it was difficult to see any. I had voice hits on Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos and various woodpeckers, among others.

photo red-bellied-woodpecker.jpg
If you look closely, you can see the red feathers on the belly that give this woodpecker its name.

There was one sweet spot along the trail in an upland section, adjacent to some homes, that had quite a few American Redstarts. Unlike last week, when there was a good mix of adult males and adult females, this week I think most of the birds were first year males. They had some black feathers coming in, but for the most part were yellowish, but displaying like males. I’ll have to check if this is usual for how this species migrates.

Near the end of the path along the creek I did hear one, solitary Black-throated Blue Warbler among the Northern Parulas and general background noise of the cardinals (yes, they’re getting up to that point where they’re drowning out other species again).

I neither saw nor heard any evidence of Blackpoll Warblers today.

The full species list for the Turkey Creek side of my hike follows:

  • Morning Dove
  • White Ibis
  • Blue Jay
  • Common Grackle
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Carolina Wren
  • White-eyed Vireo (♫)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker (♫)
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler (♫)
  • Great-crested Flycatcher (♫)
  • Chimney Swift

I backtracked to where I parked and then crossed the road and entered the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary for the second part of my hike. For the first while, I had more voice hits and very little visual identification. This started to change as I crossed from the western part of the Sanctuary, through the Cameron Preserve and into the eastern section of the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary. Many of the same species were present as in Turkey Creek, plus some Fish Crows, Eastern Towhees, and a pale morph of a Red-shouldered Hawk.

I made another loop back to the car and decided to drive down to the southern portion of the sanctuary to try to see Florida Scrub Jays. On the way there, I saw some Ospreys, An American Brown Pelican and a Wood Stork.

Once back in the sanctuary I saw a Swallow-tailed Kite flying low. It actually passed within 20ft above me! I managed to get off a couple of camera shots (neither great, but hey, my first!). I was so excited.

photo swallow-tailed-kite.jpg
Florida’s Bird of Awesomeness.

Then I made my way to the area I had last seen some jays and taken some photos. Sure enough, a single adult scrub jay was there. It let me get very close and even hopped down on the ground right at my feet for a while!

photo fl-scrub-jay.jpg
As awesome as Swallow-tailed Kites are, many people believe this should be Florida’s official bird.

photo fl-scrub-jay-alt.jpg

Despite the overcast sky, it was very warm and humid, and I was sweating through my clothes. At this point I also ran out of water, so I made my way back to the car. In the park near the parking area there was a Sandhill Crane family (2 parents and 2 chicks) walking nearby.

photo cranes.jpg
A mother Sandhill Crane and one of her chicks. Happy Mothers’ Day.

photo dad-crane.jpg
A not very happy Dad. Time to move along.

The final identification I got was a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows over the car as I was getting in. All in all, my Malabar Scrub Sanctuary list was:

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Pileated Woodpecker (♫)
  • Great-crested Flycatcher
  • Northern Cardinal (♫)
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Fish Crow
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Common Ground Dove (♫)
  • Blue Jay (♫)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • American Brown Pelican
  • Osprey
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • Florida Scrub Jay
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Combined list of the two sanctuaries.

  • Mourning Dove
  • White Ibis
  • Blue Jay
  • Common Grackle
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Carolina Wren
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker (♫)
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler (♫)
  • Great-crested Flycatcher
  • Chimney Swift
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Pileated Woodpecker (♫)
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Fish Crow
  • Common Ground Dove (♫)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • American Brown Pelican
  • Osprey
  • Wood Stork
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • Florida Scrub Jay
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  • Anhinga
  • Black Vulture

Historically and statistically, the spring migration ends around mid-May, but there may be stragglers.  The summer residents will be setting up house and raising families, and there’s always room for surprises.

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