Yesterday I ran my Breeding Bird Survey route in Punta Gorda. I had a great time and recorded 64 species on the route and another 7 on the way home. For those who don't know, Breeding Bird Surveys are a sort of summer equivalent of a Christmas Bird Count sponsored by state and federal agencies. The observer runs the same route year after year, stopping each 1/2 mile and recording all birds seen and heard in a 3 minute period. I'm oversimplifying a bit, but you get the idea. Over time, this allows researchers to monitor population trends over a local or widespread area. 

My route (#25916) runs along Washington Loop road (off of 17, west of I-75 in Punta Gorda), up to the Peace River, and then south past the airport and around Jones Loop Rd. I began just past 6:00 AM and was treated to some real neat local birds along Washington Loop: first there was the White-winged Dove that called from the wires where a small localized colony exists, then (Surprise, surprise!!) a flock of 5 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks fly over calling (I've never seen nor heard of BBWD in Charlotte County before), the breeding pair of FL Scrub Jays popped up from their roadside nest to be tallied, 2 Limpkin brazenly marched in front of me at Shell Creek (they had undoubtedly heard about the survey and were insuring their spot in perpetuity!), the best patch of flatwoods produced Bachman's Sparrow for the day (Bobwhites were calling everywhere along this loop), at stop 16 a gorgeous adult Red-headed Woodpecker came out of its nest hole to brighten my day, and then there was the Northern Rough-winged Swallow.... Two weeks ago when a drove by and saw it perched on a wire, I thought, "Migrant!" When I went by again the following week and saw the same bird on the same exact spot on the same wire, I thought, "Odd!". When I saw the bird there again yesterday, I thought, "Is it dead?...." but it flew out and returned. So now I think I need to go back and watch this bird to see if it's disappearing under a bridge somewhere. That would be a good find to confirm nesting for this species down here, but I can't imagine why else it would be so reliably seen along this same stretch. 

On the large pond at the intersection of I-75 and the Northern end of Jones Loop Road, I was surprised to note breeding Black-necked Stilts. As many times as I've zipped past this pond, I've never stopped to glass it in summer, and didn't know this species bred here in Charlotte County.

Route 25916 has been run 10 years prior to this. Below is a list of birds recorded by me yesterday, the number following the species indicates the number of times the bird has been recorded in the past 10 years:

Anhinga 7
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 9 
Tricolored Heron 4
Little Blue Heron 6
Snowy Egret 6
Cattle Egret 7
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 4
Wood Stork 3
White Ibis 4
Glossy Ibis 3
Black-bellied whistling Duck (new for route)
Mottled Duck 6
Black Vulture 5
Turkey Vulture 3
Osprey 5
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 9
Red-tailed Hawk 5
Northern Bobwhite 10
Sandhill Crane 10
Limpkin 1
Black-necked Stilt 2
Killdeer 6
Forster's Tern (new for route)
Eurasian Collared-Dove 6
Mourning Dove 10
White-winged Dove 2
Common Ground-Dove 9
(Eastern Screech Owl found dead on road at one stop)
Common Nighthawk 10
Chuck-will's-widow 10
Chimney Swift 6
Red-headed Woodpecker 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 10
Downy woodpecker 6
"Yellow-shafted" Flicker 9
Pileated Woodpecker 7
Great Crested Flycatcher 10
Purple Martin 10
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (New bird for route seen at 2 points)
Barn Swallow 1
Carolina Wren 10
Northern Mockingbird 10
Brown Thrasher 10
Eastern Bluebird 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Tufted Titmouse 5
Loggerhead Shrike 7
Blue Jay 10
FL Scrub-Jay 4
Fish Crow 10
European Starling 10
White-eyed Vireo 9
Northern Parula 3
Pine Warbler 8
Eastern Towhee 10
Bachman's Sparrow 4
Northern Cardinal 10
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Eastern Meadowlark 10
Boat-tailed Grackle 10
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird (new for route)
House Sparrow 4

Good birding,

Jeff Bouton
Port Charlotte, FL
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