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Just for the record,

The Wholey Eye-browed One has returned to He of the Whole Eyebrow.  I should
have noticed that Saturday, but being not bird nor female, I didn't pay that
much attention to him.

David Simpson
[log in to unmask]
Fellsmere, FL

----- Original Message -----
From: David Simpson <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2002 10:01 PM
Subject: [FLBIRDS] One Year Later


> Hi all,
>
> So, it has been a year since that fateful day that none of us will ever
> forget.  A year ago today, I decided to put forth another one of my
> ramblings for anyone who needed a diversion.  Today, as we are barraged
with
> images, sound bites, and interviews of 9/11.  Again, I feel the need for a
> diversion.  As with most stories, there will be lessons to learn, humor to
> be tolerated, and a few rare bird sightings to be divined.  I hope you
enjoy
> this.
>
> So what is this?  After two Big Years, I think I will dub 2002, the Busy
> Year.  I can't recall being this strapped for time, even during the Big
> Ordeal that was 2000-2001.  But the stories must go on.
>
> What a weekend this was!  The last time I saw two life birds in one day in
> Florida was 23 Dec 99 when I saw the white trash Snowy Owl at St. George's
> Island SP and later the Winter wren at Florida Caverns SP.  During two
> vigorous Big Years, 30 life birds, and 44 state birds, it never happened
> again.  Bells Vireo, duh!  Last Saturday, thanks to the Hairy Man (and the
> old salt), it would happen again.  The time was about noon.  I was sitting
> in one of the tropicbird observation platforms (lounge chairs.)  A
commotion
> was heard and the word jaeger was uttered.  Pomarine or Parasitic?  Well,
> there is a third possibility, Long-tailed does come through early.  The
bird
> was flying low and actively pursuing Sooty terns for different reasons
than
> we were.  I managed a few good looks before it vanished for good.  Twice,
I
> saw the two white shafts on the primaries that are diagnostic for
> Long-tailed.  Perhaps annoyed by the competition, it harassed another
jaeger
> (Parasitic) allowing a good comparison of size.  The bird was a dark
> juvenile (adults do not have a dark morph in this species.)  In size it
was
> approximately the same size as the Sooty terns from which it sought its
> ill-gotten gain.  Within minutes, a small black and white shearwater flew
> by.  Cool, another Audubon's.  Fleeting thoughts of Manx flicker in my
mind.
> The undertail coverts look dark, or are they?  Murray says no, it's a
Manx.
> Further observation and one close banking view showed that indeed Murray
was
> right, the undertail coverts were white, setting off the pink legs.  The
> wing linings were clean, bright white.  Flight pattern was a bit different
> from Audubon's: deeper wing beats, not quite as stiff (wing tips
undulating)
> and wings raised higher in flight.   One person on board got some video of
> the bird which may serve to document this sighting.  Thanks Murray for
lifer
> #2!
>
> I would see most of the birds that were sighted that day with the
exception
> of the Red phalarope sighted by Brian "Hey, look at my eyebrow ring"
Ahern.
> I think I saw the bird fluttering away, but I had no idea what it was.  If
> the bird gods are not too crazy, maybe Roger and I will see some in
Mayport
> this winter.  After the trip, several of us, including Bob "Jonesin' for
> Sailfish" Wallace, went to the local restaurant/bar for supper and the
> chance to watch the beginning of the Miami - Florida tragedy.  After that
it
> was all I
> could do to get a shower and get some rest.  I have been getting up at
0430
> to beat the heat at work for weeks and 0330 to get to Ponce Inlet in time
> for the trip, so I was happy but tired.
>
> Sunday, we met several more friends including Dr. Beard, er Bob Paxson.
> Unfortunately, the weather would not prove as friendly that day and the
> captain decided against going out.  The group set out for some of the
local
> birding hotspots, of which there are many.  Andy's Father's Son had come
up
> for the trip and it was decided that I would be responsible for his
> entertainment and education this day.  We hit Lighthouse Point Park first.
> Songbirds were virtually absent.  Most of the group went to the pier
> for a brief sea bird watch which yielded nothing.  There were a couple of
> oystercatchers on the spit in the inlet along with several laughing gulls
> and a few species of terns.  The group would take the 45 minute drive to
the
> other side of the inlet and visit Smyrna Dunes Park.  Andy and I went on
to
> Apollo
> Beach (north end of Canaveral National Seashore a.k.a. Turtle Mound.)  I
was
> interested in looking for more songbirds.  Sometimes the slow days produce
> some interesting sightings among the few birds present.  As we headed down
> Eldora Road, a chunky warbler flew towards and past us.  Redstart, just
like
> the ones we saw offshore.  Check to make sure.  Bright yellow belly, gray
> head and breast.  What plumage is that?  Certainly not a redstart.  Which
> warblers have the combination of bright yellow belly and gray head and
> throat.  Only the non-Kentucky Oporornis species have this.  According to
> Sibley, Connecticut has dull yellow underparts.  This bird flew by at
close
> range and was quite bright yellow.  Mourning is the overwhelming favorite
> although McGillavray's reaches Central America by mid-August.  They could
> also reach Florida by early September.  For now, we are calling in
> MournGillivray's warbler.  The bird flew on and I decided it was not worth
> stopping to search for the bird when they are virtually impossible to
find.
> Andy thought otherwise.  Andy doesn't realize that when I decide to do
> something (or not) it doesn't matter how much you keep asking me, I'm not
> changing my mind.  At the Eldora State House (name?) we found a Northern
> waterthrush, the first of many that day.  Pelagic watching at Parking lot
#2
> proved fruitless, especially compared to yesterday's boat trip, so we
headed
> on to Blackpoint.  Along SR 3, we stopped north of Dummitt Grove and
scanned
> the tree tops for kingbirds.  All that we saw were Eastern.  There were
> about 30-40 on the wires and tops of orange trees.  At Blackpoint, the
water
> levels had risen, moving the birds at #6 back toward #5.  There were less
> birds overall, especially shorebirds, so after eating lunch, we went on to
> the FIND site.  We were able to drive in and check out the water.  128
White
> pelicans along with tons of Black terns, a few Least terns, and
shorebirds,
> including an avocet were present.  We poked around the groves a bit,
looking
> for buntings before heading back down SR3 into the refuge again.
>
> .... Composition interrupted, back to work ....
>
> Driving the highway, Andy was ever vigilant in his assignment to find an
> Olive-sided flycatcher or Tropical Kingbird.  "What are those birds?" he
> says.  I glanced at the flock and they looked like kingbirds.  Pulling off
> the road, we confirmed that they were indeed kingbirds, 120 of them.  The
> flock seemed a little confused, changing directions twice before they
split
> up with some going south and others turning back north.  We checked again
at
> the orange grove north of Dummitt Grove and found several more kingbirds.
> The total for this run was 165, all Easterns.  A quick run through the
> orange grove was relatively unproductive.  Andy noted that he had more
> species of plants stuck to him than bird species seen.  A good lesson in
> bird finding.  There are many more misses than hits.  Oak Hammock was the
> next destination, where Andy's Father's Son's Father and Mother would
rescue
> him from more plant walks.  I went on to find some more song birds and had
> about equal success to the Dummitt romp.  With the fading daylight, I
headed
> to Viera and the Click Ponds to finish off the day with Upland SP,
> Buff-breasted sandpiper, golden plover, Fork-tailed flycatcher, or the
> search thereof.  Is it possible to have four strikes?  Well tonight I
would
> have just that.  I got to the Click Ponds with enough light to make an
> adequate search for phalaropes, etc.  The water was a little higher after
> the storm and shorebirds were down in number.  A few new ducks had
arrived.
> In the southwest corner, a flock of blue-winged dabblers actively fed next
> to the berm.
>
> ... Another interruption, homework assignment ...
>
> Okay, let's wrap this thing up before it's 9/12.
>
> Blue-winged dabblers as in dabbling ducks with blue wing patches as in
> shovelers and teal.  There were about a dozen Blue-winged along with three
> FOTS Northern shovelers, all in eclipse plumage.  Actually, I'm not sure
if
> eclipse is the right term for the females' plumage.  Have you ever looked
> closely at an eclipse Northern shoveler?  They have a really strange iris
> color.  Combined with the unkempt look of eclipse plumage and that
> over-sized bill they look almost psychotic.  It was rather like looking in
a
> mirror.  But those weren't the interesting birds present.  One of the
birds
> in the group was a big honker.  No, it was not a goose (e.g. one who
honks)
> but just a larger bird (e.g. generic term for anything bigger than
normal.)
> Actually it was only about 5% larger than its brethren (systhren?) but how
> else was I going to work that joke in?  Its bill was noticeably larger and
> deeper at the base.  Most of all, it had a decidedly browner color.  How
> many of you know where I am going with this?  I checked out the iris color
> and it was definitely brown.  I could not make it red for anything.  Dead
> end?  Well, not so fast.  I continued to study this most intriguing
slightly
> honkerous bird.  When I got out to put the 'scope on it, the flock flew
> another ten feet to the staggering distance of 20'.  I zoomed in and
studied
> the facial pattern; the deeper grass now covered the honkingly large body.
> The face was plain brown with little or no streaking.  No eye line or eye
> arcs whatsoever.  No definite dark cap.  The pattern on the back was
plainer
> than its fellow dabblers.  I didn't have my waterfowl book with me (as far
> as I knew) so I continued to consult Sibley.  The lack of a red eye threw
me
> until I realized that only the male Cinnamon teal possesses this field
mark.
> So, it matches pretty well with adult female Cinnamon teal.  I'll have to
> check the waterfowl book when I get home and find it in my truck.
>
> Upon consulting and studying the Waterfowl book, Sibley and the accounts
of
> these species from the Life Histories of North American Birds (Big honker,
> Honkerus reallybiggus, has yet to be published) I decided that indeed it
was
> an adult female CITE.  I wanted to look again to study it some more,
perhaps
> the next day.  In my studies, I found some problems with the waterfowl
> guide.  Some of the same problems I have found with the Seabirds and
> Shorebirds books in this series.  The illustrations are somewhat less than
> adequate.  In this case, the "typical" female Blue-winged teal is not
> typical of what I have seen in my many days perusing females.  I mean
teal,
> of course.  What is illustrated and described for Cinnamon teal I cannot
> say, but both conflict with Sibley.  I'm going with Sibley, he's the Man.
>
> But book reviews are not entertaining, so I won't dwell on that.  The
point
> is, don't assume that a Blue-winged teal is a Blue-winged teal.  For that
> matter, don't assume that they are all female.  I used to wonder why all
of
> the early arriving Blue-wings were females until I realized that the males
> were still in eclipse plumage upon their return.  Every year, dozens of
CITE
> filter through the state unnoticed in the hundreds of thousands of BWTE.
> Most records of CITE are later in the season when they attain there
breeding
> plumage and, the males at least, are easier to pick out.  For bird nuts
like
> me, the eclipse males and females are a more interesting, if less gaudy,
> quarry.
>
> So, Tuesday evening I went back to see if it was still there.  No big
brown
> honkers were seen.  Little buffy honklets (now do you see why I had to
work
> that joke in?) were abundant, for their species, in the sod fields east of
> the Click Ponds.  What's a Little buffy honklet?  One of the original
target
> birds, Buff-breasted sandpiper.  There were seven of them among the many
> Black-bellied plover in a few sod fields on the east side of the ponds.
> This was the only field in which I saw Black-bellied plovers (no goldens,
> darn it.)
>
> So, now the Holey Eye-browed One informs us that there is a Yellow-green
> vireo at Fort DeSoto.  Hmmm?  Tomorrow is the regional meeting here at the
> preserve, but Friday, my birthday, I can probably get away for a life bird
> birthday present.
>
> So many life birds, so little time.  I hope you enjoyed this little trip.
>
> David Simpson
> [log in to unmask]
> Fellsmere, FL
>
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