I've been "out of the loop" for the last month and a half because, having
just turned 50, I decided I needed to do something with my life and
promptly enrolled in an education course at Florida Gulf Coast University
with the intent of getting my teaching certificate. Call it a mid-life
crisis. . . .  Anyway, the course ended last night and the distant
fireworks exploding in the night sky as I drove back to Naples down I-75,
reflected my exuberance for having survived a college course after nearly
25 years of absence!

This morning I met Larry Albright who was down visiting Naples with his
family from Winter Haven and I showed him some of our local Collier
County birding hotspots. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary
except for one bird -- a male Belted Kingfisher! I've never seen one this
early in July. We saw it plying the flooded canals along Greenway Road in
Naples. Would anyone be willing to hazard a guess as to whether or not
this bird was an early fall migrant or perhaps a hanger-on from spring?
Or perhaps, dare I say it, breeding here? (Larry did think that he heard
a second bird.) Anyone else out there seeing Belted Kingfishers at this
time of the year?

Other birds of note: three Gray Kingbirds on Marco Island along Collier
Blvd.; several Florida Scrub-Jays along Shell Island Rd. near Briggs
Nature Center; four Magnificent Frigatebirds on one of the ABC Islands on
the road leading into Marco Island from the Judge Jolley Bridge; nine
Burrowing Owls near Tigertail Beach (plus a dead one on Lamplighter Ct.
also on Marco); two Swallow-tailed Kites along Fritchey Rd. and an
Eastern Bluebird on Greeway Rd.

Eagle Lakes Community park was a bust. The water levels were extremely
high in the main northeast impoundment and about the only birds there
were a few waders and Common Moorhens. The westernmost impoundment was
almost completely clogged by water lettuce. There were no Black-necked
Stilts to be found anywhere. These birds usually nest here. The pine
flatwoods that was behind the main northeast impoundment are now gone,
totally devoured by the Lely mega-resort.

Larry arrived in Naples on Thursday afternoon and promptly went to the
Tarpon Road Rose-ringed Parakeet roost where he found fifteen or so birds
at around 5:00PM.

It was nice birding with Larry again and getting out from behind a
computer that has monopolized all of my time in recent weeks.

Good birding and Happy Fourth!

Vincent Lucas

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