Saturday, March 5, 2016

An eBird a Day...

You might think it's easy to submit an eBird report every day for an entire year.  After all you're out and about several times a day and there are usually birds around here and there.  But you get busy with work or sleep or lunch and the day is suddenly slipping away.  Sure, I could just report one bird from one parking lot, or look out the window, and check one Rock Pigeon, but that's not much of a challenge.  If I'm going to do this, I want to explore, try to bird every day from different places, and the Tampa Bay Area has no shortage of great places to go birding.

This past week I have been to Honeymoon Island, Kapok Park, Lake Chatauqua Park, Moccasain Lake Nature Park and walked the Pinellas Trail in Dunedin, in the late afternoon today, as time and sunlight was running out to do an e-bird list for March 7.

Same thing this past Friday.  Time was slipping away and with the sun still setting relatively early, I had to make a concerted effort to not just report an Osprey,(which is a "gimme" in these here parts), and really go somewhere.  While in Florida through the month of March, I am sometimes working from 7:00am to 6:00pm. I finished work just after 5:30pm. Siri told me that the sun would set just after 6:30pm.  She also told me the closest park was Kapok Park in Clearwater.  I've been there before, so I thought I could get some good birding in before it got dark.

Oh, the best laid plans.

Firstly, when I got to the parking lot and retrieved my binoculars and Camera, I discovered I couldn't find my car key.  I searched seemingly everywhere and could not find it.  Sunset was closing in.  I needed to start recording birds.  So I gently closed the car door so as not to get locked out and decided to bird within "seeing" distance of the car and got my list going.  Once I had a few, I went back to the car, searched some more and found the key on the roof of the car, in exactly the same spot I had left my iPhone a few days back in south Florida.

That done I started my walk, and discovered a new boardwalk that hadn't been there a year ago.  Walking across I saw other birders searching around.  There was a Great Horned Owl in one of the trees.  I had heard one calling the previous day at Honeymoon Island, but it was hidden from view.  I went to take a photo and wouldn't you know it, I had left my SD memory card in the car.  I ran back to get it and by the time I returned the owl had flown off, not to be seen again before dark.  I did enjoy seeing my first Mottled Ducks of the year,(eBird lists it as a rarity for this spot), swimming with Blue-winged Teal and a couple of Mallards.  I think I'll go back again in a few days as migrating birds start to arrive. 

Yesterday afternoon I tried out Cliff Stephans Park.  I had gotten to Moccasain Lake Nature Park after the gates had closed, and Cliff Stephans did not have a gate so I decided to walk there, only to find that about 200 yards in, it turned into Kapok Park.  I enjoyed the boardwalk that connects the two parks and birded until dark.

Today it seemed as if there would be no birding if I didn't get get out of my office for a while and walk the Pinellas Trail.  Not a great selection of birds, but what the heck.  Sometimes you do just have to contradict yourself and, if not bird from a parking lot, go birding pretty close to one.  

I'm sure over the next few days or so the migrating birds will start showing up and the best place to find them at this time of year is Fort DeSoto.  I can hardly wait for Daylight Savings time to kick in so I can get there after work with a couple of hours to go birding before sunset.  I'm also very much looking forward to my trip to The Dry Tortugas, but that is not until March 21.

The proud parents taking some "them" time away from the babies

The babies having some "us" time with the parents out of the nest

The cutest Common Ground Doves, very likely to be proud parents, themselves soon

I'm not sure I want to see what happens next

Though I think the 'gator is hoping at least one Ibis will jump into his mouth

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