Mike Manetz and I checked out the settling pond at the Hague Dairy this
evening and found the season's first White-rumped Sandpiper, as well as 2
Semipalmated Plovers, 7 Solitary Sandpipers, 19 Semipalmated Sandpipers,
and 17 Leasts. We also watched, a little startled, as a Royal Tern
interrupted its eastward flight to make a brief but leisurely investigation
of the pond.

Yesterday Lloyd Davis and I slogged out to the north end of Newnans Lake,
hoping to find mud flats swarming with shorebirds. Unfortunately what
wasn't cattails was willows, and what wasn't willows was open water about
six inches deep. The Black-necked Stilts liked it - we counted 19 - but
other shorebird activity was nil. Six Marsh Wrens and six Swamp Sparrows
were lingering. And we saw a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. It's
probably premature to draw conclusions, since they've only been here for
four years, but the whistling-ducks appear to be migratory in this area,
arriving in late spring, nesting in late summer, and then departing for
points unknown in late fall. At least five pairs raised young in various
parts of the county between August and October, and I counted 63
individuals at Paynes Prairie's La Chua Trail on November 10th - but there
was not a single sighting between December 14th and April 27th.

Let me throw a question out to the list: During the spring and summer
months, we occasionally get flocks of breeding-plumage Laughing Gulls on
our larger lakes. Usually there are fewer than a dozen, but as many as 70
have been recorded at one time. What would cause a coastal bird to wander
inland like this? Presumably a black-hooded Laughing Gull has parental
duties on the coast, but even if it didn't, what would be the advantage of
flying 60 miles to forage over a lake when it could spend less energy to
stay on the coast and eat seafood?

Rex Rowan
2041 NE 15th Terrace
Gainesville, FL  32609
(352) 371-9296
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Everyone should have a hobby;
I however prefer an obsession.

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