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I decided to keep it local last weekend and see what's in my own backyard.

Saturday found me at Zellwood for the monthly bird survey.  I decided to
check around a few areas before the survey started.  There was no sign of
flycatchers of any kind around the Lust Road gate.  It was a bit cold that
morning and I suspect the flies and flycatchers were staying warm.  Later in
the day, the group surveying that area found the Brown-crested flycatcher in
the trees along the road inside the gate.  I arrived at HQ in time to do a
little sparrow stomping before the survey.  I made my way along the fence
that leads behind the paper recycling place next door.  Interestingly, when
the paper slurry backs up in the canal it looks remarkably like solid
ground.  It doesn't behave that way.

During the survey, the temperature was dropping due to the cold front coming
through.  There was not much bird activity on the Duda side of LARA where
Joy and I were surveying.  After lunch, some of us headed out for a tour of
the lakeshore.  There were lots of cormorants and Anhinga, but not much of
note.  It was interesting to see a little more of the restoration area, lots
of sparrow and hawk habitat.  If you close your eyes, you can see fields
full of shorebirds and wading birds picking through the red tape in search
of food.  After everyone else left, I stuck around for a little solo bird
finding.  I managed to pick up a Lincoln's sparrow in the Duda area.  It sat
up for a very long view and at one point was nice enough to sit right next
to a Swamp sparrow for a direct comparison.  The same Vermillion flycatcher
(female/imm.) was at the Duda gate.  If you continue west on Jones Rd past
the headquarters you will come to CR448A/SR48.  Turn left and continue
straight where SR48 turns right to Astatula.  The road dead ends at the Duda
gate.  You are not allowed to enter the area, but like Lust Rd., you can
bird form the entrance.  The flycatcher is to the right in the trees and low
brush.  At about dusk, there was a Brewer's blackbird in with a flock of
Common grackles that were in the trees outside the gate.

Sunday I went on a pelagic trip on a fishing boat out of Cape Canaveral.
Our Audubon Society used to do trips four times a year, but we haven't done
any for awhile now.  Prior to the trip Andy Bankert and I went to Ulumay WR
to try for the sharp-tailed sparrow sp. that was reported on the CBC.  We
saw several Sedge wrens and a Nelson's sharp-tailed.  The Nelson's was
somewhat bittersweet for me, it was a new county bird, but not a year bird.
I was hoping for a Saltmarsh.  Pelagic trips on the east coast of Florida
are always a crap shoot and true to form we didn't see crap.  There was a
light morph Pomarine jaeger offshore and two Parasitic jaegers on the way
out.  We saw what was probably the same immature Brown booby as last
November sitting on the last buoy out of the port.  The boat got back about
an hour early due to inclement weather.  We had a chance to hit the Duda
wetlands before dark.  The Canada goose was there, a Florida bird for Andy,
along with 1000+ teal and other assorted ducks.  We chased about 50 Savannah
sparrows along the north side of the new wetlands looking for something
different, but they were all Savannahs.

Monday, I decided to check out the Lake Poinsett area where the kingbirds
have been and then poke around the local area.  I found 14 White-crowned
sparrows in four different groups.  The last group of two may have had more,
but they did not care to be seen.  There was a Lincoln's sparrow along the
road about halfway down.  Back near I-95, there were three caracaras and two
kingbirds, both Western.  The kingbirds were feeding on Cabbage palm berries
and disappeared shortly after I saw them.  I did not find the Cassin's that
morning.  I headed over to Cocoa Beach, poking around as I went.  The most
interesting bird that I found was at Kiwanis Park on the north side of the
520 Causeway.  There was a large flock of cormorants swimming in the water
with a few White pelicans and Ring-billed gulls.  I decided to check for
Neotropical or Greats in their midst.  One bird in the front of the group
caught my eye.  It was noticeably much smaller than the other cormorants and
it held its bill parallel to the water, unlike the snobbish upturned look
that the other birds had.  It looked so small that I was not even sure it
was a cormorant at first, but at 50X it did appear to be a cormorant.
Initially it was too far away to see the lores even at 50X.  (60X was too
dark and shaky to see anything much at all.)  I moved to a closer vantage
point (ca. 200m) and scanned for about 20 minutes before finally locating
the suspect again.  I had a few frustrating looks at the bird before it got
lost in the shuffle of shifting pelicans and cormorants.  They had the
annoying habit of continually swimming one way, then shifting and swimming
the other way.  At this distance, I believe I did see the lt. lores which
made it a Double-crested.  I could not be 100% sure.  I tried one last
desperate look from the Wal-Mart on the east side and got my closest looks.
I could clearly see the lt. lores on all of the birds and I did not see any
birds that fit the first bird I saw.  Here's what my filed notes say:

One individual noticeably smaller than DCCO's  smaller in    (Double-crested
cormorant)
body than RBGU  2/3 size of DCCO.  bill held                     (the other
DCCO's were slightly larger)
parallel to water.  Throat lt. brown.  Head and bill
smaller but proportionately similar to DCCO.  Head and neck
pattern sim. to DCCO.  Thin white line on base of
bill.  Initially too far to see lores (ca. 350m)
Refound bird after 20 min. search.  It
appeared to have lt. lores.  Not 100% positive.

An interesting side note, the day before when Andy and I were at Ulumay,
flock of cormorants flew south overhead.  One of the birds was noticeably
smaller than the others, but the tail was proportionately similar to DCCO
(1/4 of total length, not 1/3 as in Neotropical.)  Could this have been the
same runt that I saw at Kiwanis?

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful.  I did manage to finally see the
pink ibis that has been around for some years now in the central Brevard
area.  It was feeding with a flock of White Ibis north of SR528 on the west
side of the Banana River.  I thought at first that it was a spoonbill.  It
had a white head and pale pink wings and back similar to an immature
spoonbill.  I checked the dump west of Cocoa and saw lots of Laughing and
Ring-billed gulls.  There were many immature Herring gulls, but no rarities
today.

Nest weekend it is off to North Florida again to try to try for Red-necked
grebe, Pacific loon, Western meadowlark, Mountain plover, Snowy owl, Great
gray owl, and Hoary redpoll.

David Simpson
Sebastian, FL
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