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The Alachua Audubon Society tallied 86 species in Osceola County and had 
a great day despite a few frustrations.

We started at Lakefront Park on the south shore of East Lake Toho in St. 
Cloud. We saw two Sandhill Cranes on the nest as well as a Limpkin and 
at least one White-winged Dove, but it wasn't until we went to Chisholm 
Park, on the lake's east shore off Narcoossee Road, that we found a 
Snail Kite: we had superb views of an adult male that spent ten or 
fifteen minutes hunting over a stretch of lakeshore, seldom more than a 
couple hundred feet away at any time.

Afterward we went south to Joe Overstreet Road, along which we had a 
distant view of a pair of Crested Caracaras and a much closer look at a 
trio of adult Whooping Cranes. At the landing we saw one or two more 
Snail Kites and a couple more Limpkins. Among the gulls and terns we 
were surprised to see four Herring Gulls, including two beautiful 
adults, and a flock of Black Skimmers.

We continued to Three Lakes WMA, where we experienced the day's only 
real frustrations. According to Pranty (p. 153), the property's largest 
concentration of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found along Williams 
Road - which we found locked shut. We cursed our luck and proceeded into 
the WMA, intending to drive the road leading through the Florida 
Grasshopper Sparrow area - which was also locked shut. Can anyone tell 
me why these two areas of great interest to birders are closed to public 
access?

We went on to the Lake Jackson observation tower, where we saw at least 
one more Snail Kite and a nice selection of waterfowl: a pair of 
Mallards, some Mottled Ducks, a few Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, 
and several dozen American Wigeons.

The highlight of the trip came at the end of the day, as we were on our 
way back to St. Cloud. Along Canoe Creek Road not far north of the Three 
Lakes campground, we passed a raptor perched atop a snag. We couldn't 
quite place the silhouette, so we turned around and went back, and were 
treated to ten minutes of wonderful aerial display by a White-tailed 
Kite - it repeatedly hovered with (as Bob Carroll described it) rippling 
wings, and twice dropped slowly into the palmettos with both wings 
extended high over its head, a strange-looking maneuver something like 
the "parachute dive" of a Short-tailed Hawk.

Rex Rowan
Gainesville

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