Brian Rapoza, Bruce Purdy and I made a west coast swing in the hopes of
seeing the Western Grebes at Carl Johnson-Lover's Beach in Bonita Springs
and the Common Merganser at Aqui Esta Pond in Punta Gorda.

Lover's Beach did have 2 Whimbrels, 8 American Avocets, 5 Common Loons, 2
Red-breasted Megansers, 1 Reddish Egret and 2 Roseate Spoonbills. A kayak
will be needed to search around all of the mangrove islands in search of the
Western Grebes.

We arrived at Aqui Esta Pond, meeting up with Jean Dubi and Jeff Palmer from
Sarasota and immediately located a Red-breasted Merganser amongst the
hundreds of Hooded Mergansers, which would grow to around 700 birds by the
time we left. soon thereafter, Vince Lucas, Vince McGrath, Jeff Bouton,
Terry Doyle, et al. joined in the search. Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup,
Ring-necked Ducks and Mottled Ducks were mixed in with the Mergansers but
nary a Common could be located up through Civil Twilight. The Red-breasted
had a thin up-turned bill to go with a dark chin, not the thicker bill that
slopes into the forehead with a white chin of the Common.

Life is good...................................being able to offer up
Seasons Greetings in person to some of our West Coast birding family. Happy
Holidays and Happy Birding!

Paul Bithorn
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Virginia Gardens, Florida
Miami-Dade County

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