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Hi Floridabirders,

Well, today was almost 180 degrees of yesterday, yesterday being deep blue
skies, light winds and cool temperatures. Today was overcast with widely
scattered light drizzle, moderately windy and temperatures in the upper 40s
to mid 50s.

Despite the uninviting conditions, I went ahead and put the kayak in at the
St. Marks NWR lighthouse around 9:25 and proceeded east by southeast knowing
full well that I would be fighting a strong wind on my return.

There was a large mixed flock of birds in a feeding frenzy about a half mile
off shore. I started out to observe this activity when I was stopped by 3
Common Loons. Two of the loons kept my attention away from the feeding
bonanza further off shore by continuously yodeling between themselves. I
stayed roughly 200 feet down wind and enjoyed the serenade.

Meanwhile, the feeding frenzy began breaking up and the cormorants formed a
very long train heading back toward the East River area. Mixed in with them
were Brown Pelicans, Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of White Pelicans.

Continuing on eastward, I paddled to the small bay and extensive marshes
about a quarter mile east of the lighthouse. With high tide around 11, the
numerous winding channels I found passable as I disappeared in the vastness
of the black needlerush marsh. Except for a Red-breasted Merganser, a lone
White pelican, 1 Northern Harrier, a Clapper Rail and 1 male Boat-tailed
Grackle the marsh was very quiet, not even one wader.

The birds seen while on the water included:
* Common Loon - 3
* American White Pelican - 3
* Brown Pelican - 40+
* Double-crested Cormorants - 400+ (the feeding frenzy flock)
* Lesser Scaup - 30+ in several rafts of 8 to 10 birds each.
* Bufflehead - 40+ in several rafts of 6 to 10 birds each. All
  female adult or first winter birds.
* Red-breasted Merganser - 1
* Bald Eagle - 1 adult.
* Northern Harrier - 1 female.
* Clapper Rail - 1 heard only.
* Willet - approximately 150 flew across my bow in one fast moving
  flock, a beautiful sight.
* Laughing Gull - 20+
* Ring-billed Gull - 100+
* Royal Tern - 12
* Boat-tailed Grackle - 1

By 11, the winds were kicking up pretty good out the west and since I had
some open water to cover into the wind to get back to the lighthouse,
birding was terminated and I got my workout for the day.

Also did a little car and foot birding from Lighthouse Pool back to Mounds
Pool #1. Birds seen were:
* Pied-Billed Grebe - 15
* Double-crested Cormorant - 1
* Anhinga - 1
* Great Blue Heron - 14, 8 were hunkered down in Headquarters Pond.
* Great Egret - 80+ in the south end of Mounds Pool #3.
* Snowy Egret - 50+ same location as the Great Egrets.
* Little Blue Heron - 3
* Tricolored Heron - 16
* Black-crowned Night Heron - 21, 5 juvs. and 16 adults, east side of
  Headquarters Pond.
* White Ibis - 3, 2 adults and 1 first winter.
* American Widgeon - 38, all in Lighthouse Pool
* Blue-winged Teal - 22
* Green-winged Teal - 34
* Ring-necked Duck - 20+ in Picnic Pond.
* Lesser Scaup - 60+ in Picnic Pond.
* Bufflehead - 80+ in Picnic Pond.
Note: did not see the Long-tailed Duck reported there.
* Ruddy Duck - 1 in Picnic Pond.
* Bald Eagle - 1 adult
* Northern Harrier - 1 female
* American Kestrel - 1 male
* Common Moorhen - 30+
* American Coot - 60+
* Semipalmated Plover - 16 in Tower Pond.
* Killdeer - 3 in Tower Pond.
* Greater Yellowlegs - 30+ in Tower Pond.
* Willet - 30+ in Tower Pond.
* Marbled Godwit - 1 in Tower Pond.
* Peeps - Western or Semipals? probably greater than 500 birds in Tower
  Pond.
* Short-billed Dowitcher - 50+ in Tower Pond.
* Laughing Gull - 8
* Belted Kingfisher - 3
* Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1 heard.
* Pileated Woodpecker - 1 heard.
* Eastern Phoebe - 2
* Tree swallow - 15+ over Mounds Pool #3.
* Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2 next to the fire tower, one bird was nicely
  displaying its bright red crest at the second bird.
* Northern Mockingbird - 4
* Eastern Towhee - 1 heard.
* Boat-tailed Grackle - 30+

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Good Birding!

Harry Hooper
Tallahassee, Florida





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