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Hi John & Chadda and all the other Florida Birders,
I saw the post about Red-cockaded Woodpecker and wanted to respond about
some of the questions John had. I decided to respond to the group as a whole
because I think that there are many people that might benefit from advice
about how to find RCWs.
The nighthawk you saw, based on the rufous coloration, sounds like a
Chuck-wills-widow. The eagle's nest that you mentioned caught my attention.
The Bald Eagle nestlings typically fledge in sometime in March. Osprey,
however, are nesting right now and they have a similar nest to the Bald
Eagle.
Also, I wanted to give some advice about finding Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. I
live along the Florida Panhandle near Eglin Air Force Base (A.F.B.). The
A.F.B. reservation is a real hot spot for the woodpeckers as you may know
and being that I am in the guiding business, I often have snow birds and
other visiting birders that would like to see the RCWs. I have found that
the best strategy is to stake out the nesting trees at dusk when the birds
are returning to the trees. In my experience the RCWs often make a lot of
noise as they return to roost for the night and they are easier to locate
than at dawn when they are leaving for the day. (Another advantage to this
strategy is that you don't have to get up at 4:00 a.m.) I used to do
volunteer work banding RCWs. To do this the banders had to be at the
woodpecker trees at 3:00 a.m. to insure the birds were still sleeping. We
would raise a long pole with a net on the end up the tree to cover the nest
hole. Then we would bang on the tree and hopefully startle the sleeping bird
and scare it into the net. Often, however, the bird was smarter than we
were, and it would watch until we gave up and lowered the net. Then it would
fly away and we would have to be at the tree at 3:00 a.m. the next day. The
whole point of this rambling is that RCWs get up very early and they are
more reliable in the afternoon. If you are ever in the Ft. Walton Bch. area,
be sure to give me a call, (850) 862-3498. I know of some spots where I can
ALMOST guarantee these allusive woodpeckers. I hope you have better luck on
you next attempt to find them.
Good Luck & Good Birding,
Alan W. Knothe, The Birdman
Nature Tours by Alan
www.birdtours.com

----- Original Message -----
From: John W Shelly <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2001 10:24 AM
Subject: [FLORIDABIRDS-L] Orlando birding


> All,
>   My wife, Chadda, and I made an overnight jaunt from S. Palm Beach Co.
> to the Orlando area Thursday with the primary objective of seeing a Red
> Cockaded WP (5th try) before the end of breeding season.  We also wanted
> to check out the Orlando Wetlands Park to see if we could find the King
> Rails that Cheri Pierce has mentioned seeing on 80% of her visits.
>   Since we wanted to hit Three Lakes at dawn, we went to OWP Thurs.
> evening, 6 - 8 PM and had a very nice but hurried walk around the 2.5
> mile loop.  We saw Cheri's Purple Martins in their palm tree nest, a
> Limpkin, Least Bittern, Yellow Crowned Night Heron, along with all the
> usual suspects of the marsh which we see at our local  Wakodahatchee
> Wetlands.  Alas, we did not see any King Rails.  At that time of night we
> heard a calliope of sounds, one of which sounded just like a sheep - we
> think it was a frog.  Can any of you identify it?
>   Early Fri. we headed for Three Lakes.  We didn't get there until 7:45
> because we stopped on Canoe Creek Road about 10 miles north of 3 Lakes to
> watch 4 young male Turkeys and 2 Caracaras in the middle of a pasture.
>   At Three Lakes campground we watched about 12 banded trees for over an
> hour with just a Red Bellied WP to represent his clan.  We saw Eastern
> Bluebirds, Meadow Larks,  a Great Crested Flycatcher, and one of the
> highlights of the day, a Lesser(?) Nighthawk feigning an injury to lure
> us away from her 2 chicks.  We didn't think it was a Common Nighthawk
> because of it's lighter color (somewhat rufous), and the prominent white
> chin spot.  Advice & comments are welcome.  If anyone is in the area, she
> is in the middle of a circle of trees on the SW corner of the
> campgrounds.  There is a stack of pallets beyond the "circle".
>   On the way out of the campground heading for Joe Overstreet Rd we
> disturbed 2 Turkey Vultures feeding on a Armadillo carcass (more on this
> later).  Overstreet Rd produced a fair number of Sandhill Cranes and
> Meadow Larks.  At Sailor Hammock there is a Eagle(?) nest with 2(?)
> chicks - it was a little too far for our Kowa TSN823 with all the heat
> wave distortion.  At the Kissimmee boat ramp, we saw an immature Bald
> Eagle and some Stilts.  We didn't see the Snail Kite nor the Whooping
> Cranes that we saw on our last visit.
>   We then returned to Three Lakes to go into the WMA.  Upon entering the
> campground, a magnificent adult Bald Eagle was perched above where the
> Armadillo had been.  It was a beautiful sight until that pesky
> Mockingbird chased it away!
>   About a mile into the area at another cluster of ringed trees on the
> left, we saw out 1st Bachman's Sparrow.  We are nearly certain we also
> saw a Vesper Sparrow at the same spot - stripes on the breast, white eye
> ring, no eye stripe, and white edges on the tail.  Any comments?
>   Jackson Lake was nearly dry and the staff was planting bulrushes at the
> waterline.  We did see a beautiful flyby of 5 White Pelicans while we ate
> lunch.
>   We took the exit to Hwy 60 (Road 10) to look for Pranty's Grasshopper
> Sparrows, but none were to be seen at 3PM this day.  We did see about a
> dozen Bobwhites at various places along that road, leading to another
> highlight of the day - a pair of Bobwhites taking a dust bath in the road
> rut.  After about 3 minutes of observation the male left but the lady
> wanted "just another 5 minutes."  I'm afraid I got impatient and
> interrupted her bath - who knows how long she would have stayed?!
>
>   Life is indeed good!  I guess we'll keep looking for the RCWP as long
> as David Simpson keeps chasing those Flamingos.
>   Sorry I didn't get this out in time for you weekend birders.
>
> John & Chadda Shelly,
> Boca Raton, S. Palm Beach Co.
>
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