Shiloh Marsh

I hope everyone had a grand Christmas or whichever holiday you celebrated, and that you are all looking forward to the New Year. This past weekend I headed out for a quick trip to Shiloh Marsh Road. Predictably, this road ends at the Shiloh Marsh. The marsh marks the northernmost end of the Indian River Lagoon. In the map below, I parked just north of the 90-degree “L-bend” in the road and walked in along the road for about 1/4 of a mile.

Several weeks ago there were some duck species starting to show up in the marsh, so I was hopeful that by now there’d be a decent representation of ducks to see. I was also hoping to see some the Nelson’s Sparrows reported the week before.

cormorant-snowy
Most of the canal edges along Shiloh Marsh Road are wooded. Seeing wading, diving, and dabbling birds in it can seem strange. 

Unfortunately, neither of those things worked out for me, but I did get a reasonable diversity of birds, overall. The biggest thrill was the absolutely HUGE vortex of Tree Swallows nearby. The vortex itself never went directly over my location, but the number of birds was staggering. I estimated 3,000 for my eBird list, but I think that was a gross underestimate.

tree-swallows
A tiny portion of the giant Tree Swallow vortex.

I am sure you’ve heard the old axiom, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This was borne out by a large mixed flock of egrets, White Ibises, and even an American White Pelican that were congregated on the west side of the road along what’s sometimes labeled as “Coot Creek.”

white-birds
A bunch of white dudes hanging out.

Coot Creek would seem to be apt, as American Coots were the most plentiful bird on the water, all along the road and on the marsh itself. I tried to see if any ducks were hiding amongst the large coot rafts, but I did not see any.

I was surprised to see a Horned Grebe, though. They have been showing up a bit more than usual around the area this fall.

Several small groups of American White Pelicans were flying overhead, and two landed together on the nearby open water. I don’t know if that means they are a mated pair.

pelicans
Lovey couple, or just good friends?

On the way back I saw the season’s first large flocks of both American Robins (nearly 200) and Cedar Waxwings (about 50). A Loggerhead Shrike watched as I approached the exit.

shrike
Move along.

Here’s a link to my eBird list:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26471436

I have one more outing planned for 2015, then it’s on to the Christmas Bird Count (the team I am on has January 2nd), the Freshwater Systems module for the Florida Master Naturalist Program,  and SCBWF at the end of January!

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