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I spent the weekend (non-birding) in Ft. Lauderdale visiting sick friends
:^( BTW, they get Spot-breasted Orioles in their yard -- nice :^) On the
way back to Naples today, I decided to take the "back way" off of I-75,
heading north on Government Rd. aka Snake Rd. aka C.R. 833 which goes
through the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. BTW, the state will
soon begin "straightening" this road in the near future per an article in
today's Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. What that means is anyone's guess.

Nothing much to note on the Broward County side of this highway except to
note a Sora in the canal near the cattle pens a few miles north of the
service plaza -- where one can usually see Crested Caracara and other
birds. I didn't see a caracara at this spot but I did see one further on
feeding on a dead raccoon while some impatient Black Vultures waited
their turn.

In Hendry County further north along the same road, I stopped near where,
in previous years, the Vermilion Flycatcher had been seen. No VEFL, but I
did find a beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with some of the longest
tails I've ever seen -- easily a foot long or more! To find this locale,
look for a small placard on the barb wired fence (east side of road) that
reads "FD 29". There are other placards consecutively marked FD 30, FD 31
etc. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was hawking insects from the fence
directly across Government Rd. (west side) from FD 29. This is precisely
4/10ths mile south of a gated ranch with the name of "JUMPER" in huge
letters. Can't be missed. . . .

Other birds of note seen along C.R. 833 were five Painted Buntings (1
male & 4 females) at the small canal directly across the highway from "FD
31". There is another cowpen/corral here with ample parking so it is easy
to find.

From C.R. 833 I went west on C.R. 832 at Devil's Garden/Alvah's Alley. I
saw the largest flock of American Robins I've ever seen in Florida
(estimated at 4000-5000 birds) near this intersection. What a sight (and
sound)! The Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest area produced more Crested
Caracara, Sandhill Crane, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, a
flyover flock of 23 American White Pelicans, Great Crested Flycatcher,
Eastern Phoebe, and most all other "expected" waders and shorebirds
including Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Least Sandpipers.

A stop at the White's feeders in Alva failed to produce either the female
Rose-breated Grosbeak or the Baltimore Oriole. I did see the Barred Owl
sleeping in the Live Oak on the property further down Commander Nelson
Ct. (I think that's the name of the street).

No Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen on Parkinson Rd. Nor could I find one
at Caloosahatchee Regional Park. Maybe the time of day was wrong. . . .

However, the Alva Cemetary was hopping in the late afternoon. In about 45
minutes of birding there, I had the following:

Northern Parula
Prairie Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Cedar Waxwing (flock of 15 or so)
American Robin (flock of 30+)
Chipping Sparrow (flock of 8-10)
Blue-headed Vireo
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Cardinal
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-shouldered Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Cattle Egret
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay
Carolina Wren
European Starling
Northern Mockingbird
Gray Catbird

I could not locate any Florida Scrub-Jays at the Babcock Ranch Property
at the intersection of S.R. 78 & S.R. 31. Has anyone seen any of these
birds there in recent months? What a shame that the Babcock Ranch is
going to be sold (to developers?) if the State does not come up with
something like $450 million to purchase this largest privately held land
holding in the entire state. What a loss this will be. Let's hope the
state does the right thing. . . .

Good birding!

Vincent Lucas
Naples

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