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Hey Beels et al.,

I've heard quite a few reports of slow going this winter at Bunche Beach.
However, I had 15 Snowy, 9 Piping, 50+ Semipalmated, 30+ Wilson's, and a few
Black-bellied Plovers at Ft Myers Beach (Little Estero Lagoon) recently
while doing the Piping Plover census.  Also present were winter peeps and
Dunlin in good numbers, but Dowitchers were in much lower numbers than past
years.  Usually 30+, but this time only a few.  No Marbled Godwits or
Whimbrel, either.  In the past, lots of terns and gulls would roost at the
lagoon end (southern)of the sand bar.  Now it appears most are located north
(to the right) of the Holiday Inn beach access.  For those unfamiliar with
the area, the lagoon is located to the south (left) of this access.  It may
be viewed from two vantage points.

One strategy is to turn left immediately after accessing the beach and
viewing the interior lagoon (separated from outer beach by mangroves), then
proceeding farther south along the path and viewing the exterior lagoon from
the east side.  At low tide, it is possible to wade across the
lagoon/mudflats to the outer beach.

The second strategy, which is my usual choice, is to proceed directly to the
Gulf from the access, and turn south (left).  This is a much longer walk,
but enables you to see where the gulls and terns are roosting.  Black
Skimmers are usually present with them, and February and March can be good
for Lesser Black-backed gulls.  It is a good hike to the end of the sandbar,
I'd guess around a mile and a half.  This strategy works best in the late
afternoon, as the sun and roosting is at its best.  On my last trip, most
plovers were found on mudflats near the south end of the sandbar.  Some days
they are closer and on the beach roosting.  However, as Dick noted, traffic
can be slow-going on the island this time of year, unless you are in and out
early.

Directions from Pranty, p. 194 (with a couple additions): From Ft Myers,
take Summerlin Road (SR 869)to San Carlos Blvd (SR 865).  Take San Carlos
south to the bridge onto Estero Island (Ft Myers Beach).  Once on the
island, San Carlos Blvd continues southeast as Estero Blvd.  Continue
approximately 4.5 miles to the Holiday Inn on your right (left from the
south).  Go a short distance beyond the Holiday Inn to Santini Plaza on the
left.  This is the best place to park.  Walk back north to the Holiday Inn
and access the beach through the parking lot.

Regards,

Charlie

Charlie Ewell
Cape Coral, FL
[log in to unmask]


>From: Dick Beeler <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: [FLORIDABIRDS-L] Low Tides and "no" birds at Bunche Beach
>Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 09:57:27 EST
>
>Bunche Beach, found at the end of, what else, Bunche Beach Rd., by turning
>left (South) off Summerlin just before you reach the toll booth before the
>causeway to Sanibel Island in Lee County, has, more often than not, been
>the
>site of birds and species of birds in great numbers.  A typical day would
>usually produce six plover species - with large numbers of Wilson's,
>Black-bellies and Semipalms and a handful of Killdeer, Snowy's and Pipers
>-
>almost every known heron and egret, Skimmers, Oystercatchers, Spoonbills,
>Marbled Godwit and Gulls, Terns and Sanpipers galore.
>
>During the latest period of extremely low tides, cool temperatures and
>brisk
>winds, the number and variety of birds has been somewhat disappointing.  A
>recent trip at dead low tide (not the ideal time, I know, as the water
>recedes so far that the birds which are present are widely scattered)
>produced NO Wilson.s, Snowy's or Pipers, NO Red Knots, Spoonbills, Skimmers
>or Oystercatchers and very few Terns.  As always, there were a couple of
>relatively unusual sightings to keep the trip from being a total washout.
>A
>pair of Great Black-backs joined the Laughing, Ring-billed and Herring
>Gulls
>and an immature Bald Eagle took over a small sandbar for an hour or two.  A
>small group of Pectoral Sandpipers were found amidst the Least and Western
>"peeps", Dunlin, Dowitchers, Sanderlings et al, but for the most part it
>was
>a lot of slogging across the mudflats in hopes that the flocks of birds
>wheeling in flight in the distance would settle down close to the birders
>and
>produce more of the "usual suspects".
>
>Maybe now that the tides are returning to something close to normal and the
>series of recent cold-fronts are being replaced with balmier breezes, my
>next
>report will be better.  (I would hate to have to resort to trips to Fort
>Myers Beach during "The Season" as one could waste the better part of an
>hour
>in traffic just crossing the bridge from South Fort Myers.)
>
>Dick Beeler
>Fort  Myers, FL


Charlie Ewell
Cape Coral, FL
[log in to unmask]


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