September 30, 2017
Joe Overstreet Road and Landing are among Osceola County’s most interesting birding “hotspots”. The road heads down to the northeastern edge of Lake Kissimmee, through ranch and farm lands. At the landing, wading birds are common, and the lake’s resident Snail Kites are usually around. Last weekend was a good opportunity to check them out.
The trees and shrubs along the road edges are often a good place to stop and watch for warblers or other small songbirds. Sometimes the early morning light can be a challenge, especially if the birds are back-lit. But I had some good luck this time around for some White-eyed Vireos and friends.
Wherever small birds are (or other prey items, like large grasshoppers or katydids), you have predators. There were Loggerhead Shrikes staking out the road edges, and further out over the fields I could hear Red-shouldered Hawks calling out.
During Spring and Summer there are usually a large number of Cattle Egrets along with the cattle, but with the advent of Autumn there were very few of any sort of heron or egret species.
Barn Swallows were working the open land and pausing in little groups on the wires and fence lines. Many were youngsters themselves, and trying to beg off of the adults who, to their evolutionary credit, were ignoring them. The young birds were certainly capable of feeding themselves.
In addition to the Barn Swallows, there were a few Cliff and Bank Swallows in the mix as the birds swooped and darted around, catching insects.
The wet sod fields near the midpoint of the road had produced reports of shorebirds, including some American Golden Plovers and various sandpipers. I did not see any plovers (besides Killdeers) on the way to the lake, but I did see some Least and Pectoral Sandpipers
At the landing, I was almost immediately greeted by a family of Limpkins. The youngsters were almost full grown, and still looking a bit gangly as they ran to catch up with the adults.
One could liken these birds to “teenage” birds, and it won’t be long before they leave the proverbial nest (they left the actual one weeks ago).
A few of them decided to take a rest on a nearby picnic table, fairly unconcerned with the people and boats. They even had a squirrell join in!
The trees around the boat ramp usually have a Yellow Warbler or two around, and I was happy to see both a female and at least two males. One male hadn’t lost his bright yellow breeding colors quite yet. It always amazes me how a bird this bright yellow can be hard to find in a green tree. But they are.
Snail Kites were catching a large invasive variety of Apple Snail that seems to have taken over the lakes in central Florida. At least they (and the Limpkins) seem to be having no trouble with them. Ecologically, the invasive snails can do a lot of harm and are outcompeting the already threatened native snails.
One the way back up Joe Overstreet Road, I stopped one more time to scope out for American Golden Plovers. It took a while, and the help of two birders with a more stable and functioning scope (my Audubon “Light” scope had some failures), several of these somewhat rare visitors were seen and identified! This is the best photograph I could obtain.
As a final treat, I made it a point to stop on the “main road” by the Double C Bar ranch, in case a Whooping Crane was in view. My life-sighting of this species was on my first Central Florida Specialties trip with David Goodwin at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, several years ago. Since then, I’ve unsuccessfully tried to find these birds at this ranch (and elsewhere). Fortune favors the prepared, I suppose!
That seemed like the cap on a pretty good birding day. While neither the American Golden Plovers nor the Whooping Crane were life birds, it was a thrill to see them, along with the other resident birds.
Here are the various eBird lists, for those who care.
Joe Overstreet Road (inbound to lake):
Joe Overstreet Landing:
Joe Overstreet Road (incidental, outbound from lake):
Double C Bar Ranch: