Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Florida Trip Day 4: Myakka River State Park (lifers are bolded)

Myakka River State Park. Photo by Marianne Balkwill. Note the Spanish Moss.

We woke up to get the hell out of the hell hole we stayed in last night, and upon opening the shutters to see the aftermath, I saw completely nothing...Just the same two cars that we saw last evening when we first arrived. There wasn't even a can of beer on the premises. It was like nothing ever happened. Weird.

Saying good morning to a cockroach on the wall, we quickly got on our clothes and left the Cabana Inn Motel. I don't think we'll be back any time soon.

We are off to Myakka River State Park. Our first stop is along a ----------. Fog was again an issue this morning and trying to ID the waders were a little bit of a challenge. The ditch on the other side of the road was better. We had Black-necked Stilt, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Tricoloured Heron and a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK on the bank.

Fog was still with us when we got into Myakka River State Park. We had a hard time looking into the swamp. We did manage to see 2 Sandhill Cranes that were engaged in courtship, moving their bodies in unison and then throwing there heads back calling to the sky.

One of the trails we went on had a suspension bridge through the canopy and then at the end, more steps to get up into a tower. The fog began to lift when we were up there. Scanning we picked out Black Vultures, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The trails through Myakka were beautiful, with Spanish Moss hanging on many trees, and palms were everywhere as well. Completely different from our Carolinian forest! I also saw one thing I have never ever seen before in my life........A Palm Warbler in a palm tree! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!!

Leaving Myakka we saw our first SWALLOW-TAILED KITES. These are the most beautiful , most graceful raptors I have ever seen!
Once again it was getting very hot. We decided to eat and make our way south to Fred C. Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area. This park had a few species of birds we needed, including Bachman's Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The best time to see the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is in the evening, when the birds are known to work around their nest holes before sleeping for the night. We got there during the heat of the day, at 1:00 pm.
Driving down the road through the park with the windows rolled down we heard a BACHMAN'S SPARROW. I got out to get a better look, while Aaron stayed in the air conditioned car. A mixed species flock yielded a Palm Warbler and a BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH. Now we just had to find the woodpecker.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker and Downy Woodpeckers were found. We then drove near the other spot where the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers nest and we both got out of the car. A Red-bellied Woodpecker worked on one of the holes for the Red-cockaded, and a Great Crested Flycatcher was flying around. I lifted up my binoculars to a Pine Warbler.

"There's a Pine Warbler"


"There's a RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER behind it"


"There! Behind the warbler working on the trunk of the tree!"

"Okay...Let's get out of this heat!"

Now that we saw our target species before schedule we decided to head over to Cape Coral to check out a reliable spot for Burrowing Owl. According to the ABA Guide, there was a great spot near the library. And there they were! BURROWING OWL!
Burrowing Owl at Cape Coral. This is the most reliable place in Florida to see this species. Photo by Marianne Balkwill

Another successful day! We stayed over night in Fort Myers, at a Motel 6, not another Cabana Inn.

Tomorrow, it is off to the Corkscrew Swamp!

1 comment:

  1. A Bachman's Sparrow would be nice. It sure has been a very long time since one was in Ontario!