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Hi all,

        Dave Goodwin and Erik Haney joined Austin and myself for a day's ride around Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties.  We found 144 species while battling rain, winds, overcast skies, and the area's worst drivers.  We also found a remarkably good bird for Fort DeSoto CP (a first park record!) and the first one seen in Pinellas County in a long time; Seaside Sparrow.  Our highlights;

+  Magnificent Frigatebird - two flying along the beach near Treasure Island.
+  11 duck species including three flocks of 10+ Black Scoters flying south approx. 200-300 yards offshore from the Redington Beach Pier.
+  American Avocet & Black-necked Stilt - at the back pond of McKay Bay.
+  Solitary Sandpiper - Ray Webb's bird was cooperative as ever at Lettuce Lake County Park in NE Tampa.
+  Long-billed Curlew - Regularly seen off North Beach at Fort DeSoto.  Many Red Knots, Marbled Godwits, both Piping & Snowy Plovers, and at least one lingering Common Tern was present here, too.
+  Stilt Sandpiper - at least 40 along the shoreline of the back pond at McKay Bay.
+  Burrowing Owl - at the usual place near Wesley Chapel (Pasco)
+  Whip-poor-will - calling near Withlacoochee River CP (NE Pasco)
+  Northern Parula - rare for our area in late November and winter.  Was found with a mixed flock at Withlacoochee River CP.
+  Eight species of sparrows (great for our area at any time) including Chipping, Field, Vesper, Savannah, Grasshopper, Song, Nelson's Sharp-tailed, and our best bird of the day, Seaside (see Goodwin's earlier post).  We missed Swamp (can you believe it!).
+  I went back out to the Gulf Side Pond at Fort DeSoto CP to look for the bird again this morning.  The bird would not get close enough for a photo but it did sit up pretty for Judi Hopkins and myself in response to squeaking.  The supraloral spot and the first half of the supercilium was very yellow.  The grayish breast, as opposed to a white breast with heavy distinct streaks, was apparent indicating the Gulf Coast (Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae) or Scott's race of the Seaside Sparrow.
There are many Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the area.  Judi and I saw probably six different birds this morning.  They, too, will perch up in response to squeaking.
+  For those of you keeping score at home; there have been at least five new park records since 1998 at Fort DeSoto - Tropical Kingbird, Carolina Chickadee, Heerman's Gull, Lapland Longspur, and Seaside Sparrow.  The last three in the past month.
+  Also, just for the record, I heard a King Rail call within the cattails at the duck pond this past week.  First fall report for the area.
+  The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was present near the fort this morning.  Didn't see the Heerman's, but it's probably nearby.

Ron Smith
St. Pete, FL
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