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Hello again everybody,

When we last left our heroes they were heading west on SR46 in search of
owls they had not scouted.  Well, actually that's where we find them now.
Who wants to read about sleeping and eating breakfast?  The plan is to cut
Hatbill Road out of the itinerary based on the belief that all of the birds
present can be found elsewhere.  Ooh, daring and risky.  I read somewhere
that women like that.  This strategy applies to daylight only, so we head
out there for owls, whips, and possibly a rail or two.  Several stops along
the road and at the park itself yielded nothing.  Onward to "The Groves."
This would be the area east of US1 from North Titusville (Jay Jay Rd.) to
Volusia County.  Checking a few past Barred owl spots again revealed
nothing.  A predawn stop on Huntington Avenue on the way to Scottsmoor
Landing yielded a Whip-poor-will with a funny Canadian accent.  Moments
later, three dangerous looking guys slowly passed us by, obviously up to no
good.  (It was the Canadian Team at their Whip-poor-will spot.)  The park
yielded the expected Clapper rails and a few other things.  No eagles this
morning.  No Marsh wrens either.  No problem, we'll get those later.  Not
hitting the marshes along Hatbill Road meant putting a lot of responsibility
on Goodwin (the marsh, not Dave) at the end of the day.  We headed out early
to bird the groves in the early light.  Nothing in the hammock on Huntington
Ave.  Staked out Painted bunting on the way to the FIND site.  The FIND site
was open at about 0730.  We had heard we could go in and no one said
anything while scouting, so in we went.  Sparrows had been present days
before and there were many key ducks and shorebirds in the spoil area.  Once
inside, we were told that we were not supposed to be there.  The Army Corps.
was coming that afternoon and they were going to lock the place up.  Oh
well, we got a few birds out of it, nearly all of which we would see later.
So off to Hog Valley.  Staked out American crow came through as did Tufted
titmouse.  No chickadees or bluebirds today.  Hunting was occurring along
some of the main birding roads.  Fawn Lake produced nuthatches and Pine
warblers.  No Bachman's sparrows, Hairy woodpeckers, or Bluebirds.  We
headed on back to the groves for more  sparrows and buntings.  No more
sparrows, Prairie warblers, thrashers, or even ground doves were to be had.
Not looking good.  White-crowned sparrow should have been an easy pick up.
Rain was increasing and becoming rather steady.  It looked to be a miserable
day.  We may not even beat the Lucky Shrikes at this rate.

Next on the agenda was MINWR.  NASA was kind enough to delay the shuttle
launch for the festival and we would be able to bird the refuge this
weekend.  Blackpoint provided a number of shorebirds and ducks as well as
Roseate spoonbill.  The pumphouse had a good number of shorebirds including
godwits.  Snow geese had been reported, but I did not know exactly where, so
we passed on them.  Blue Heron was our backup spot for White-crowned sparrow
as well as another stakeout.  American bittern showed itself, but no Marsh
wrens of rails.  Goodwin, we're counting on you.  Spotted sandpiper was at
the Spotted sandpiper spot.  The oystercatcher was at its appointed place,
although it took some patient scanning to find it.  Lots of gulls at Jetty
Park.  We were able to pick up Lesser black-backed, but no other interesting
gulls.  This would be our only seawatch during the competition and it
yielded nothing.  Limpkin at the Limpkin spot.  Nothing at Lake Poinsett.
Viera yielded more bitterns, but no rails, caracara, swallows, or pipits.
No Snail kite at the Snail Kite spot.  Onward the troopers trooped.  No, we
can't look at the checklist.  No one ever picked up a bird by looking at the
checklist.  You have to be looking up when the Prairie falcon flies by.
Besides, we don't want to know how badly we are doing.  Time constraints
require us to head to the buffer preserve and Goodwin, leaving Turkey Creek
for another day.  A quick stop at the RCW spot found nothing but rain, a
trend that would continue through the rest of the competition.  The buffer
preserve, my home and place of work for many long years, was not kind to us.
More to the point, the weather was not kind.  The scary looking dudes from
the groves this morning hit the area about 15 minutes ahead of us and
cleaned up.  By the time we got there, the rains had increased and we got
nothing.  Hmm.  I'm going to have to talk to the manager about that.  Onward
to Goodwin.  On the way out, Andy said we needed to check that group of
birds in the canal.  Backing up, we saw three Purple gallinules, score!
Maybe things are looking up?  Goodwin was the expected convergence of the
powers that be.  The scary guys, the Lucky Shrikes and us were all here.
Now is the time to teach Andy some about how to covertly bird when near your
competition.  The Canadians and us headed out to the marsh together.  At one
point a pipit flew over head, calling.  Andy and I both heard the bird, and
I saw it.  In an attempt not to give the bird away, not that the Canadians
didn't hear it as well, we pretended not to hear the bird.  We did such a
good job of faking it that we forgot we had it until the next day at the
fish fry when Bruce reminded me that we heard it.  We exchanged pleasantries
with the shrikes a couple of times.  We were not a threat since we were not
officially competing.  There were many stakeout birds at this spot, some of
which we figured we would not need at this point.  King and Virginia rail
sounded off.  Amazingly, no Soras.  The waterthrush did not call.  Caracara
was sitting on a sign nearby.  Still no owls.  No Black-bellied whistling
ducks this evening.  That is only the second time in years that I have
failed on that species.  It was arranged that we should meet up with Team
Kowa, that is now there preferred name, for dinner later; drink with thine
enemy.  Team Kowa?  I prefer to refer to them as The Canadians, The Canucks,
or simply, The Evil Ones.

After dinner, we would hit Lake Poinsett yet again for the possibility of
Sora, owls, and whistling ducks.  Amazingly, we would get screech owl
calling across the marsh.  King rails sounded off several times, but no
Soras.  Cold and wet as we were, we headed back to the Mom and Dad Hilton
for a strategy session and bed time.

What did they plan for Sunday?  How many species did they have that day?
Would they beat the Canadians?  All this in Chapter 3, the final adventure.

David Simpson
Fellsmere, FL
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