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Migration is well underway up in the panhandle.  Last Friday I was birding Lake Talquin in the rain.  Forster's Terns and Double-crested Cormorants were seen on the lake, and a migrant flock had Yellow, Prairie, Yellow-throated Warblers along with Acadian Flycatcher and Northern Warterthrush.  Once the rain got too heavy I called it a day and headed to Blountstown where I spent my nights.  

Shortly before dawn on Saturday while walking out to Ft. Pickens, Yellow Warblers were flying over in good numbers along with a Redstart and probably at least a Northern Waterthrush or two.  When the sun came up, the asphalt ponds 2 miles from the parking lot had 1Short-billed Dowitcher, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, a good number of peep sandpipers, tons of Snowy Plovers, and a large number of gulls and terns.  To allow for some new arrivals, I walked a mile down the beach to some vegetation in hopes of finding migrant passerines.  A Dickcissel was the first bird to pop up out of the first patch of brush I came upon.  Migrants out here included Merlin, Yellow and Prairie Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Eastern Kingbird.  When I returned to the asphalt piles I ran into some birders and scanned a very small flock of shorebirds.  Just then, four Buff-breasted Sandpipers flew in and stayed around until after I left twenty minutes later.  No Baird's ever came in.  When I returned to the car I headed to Gulf Breeze to visit the Duncan's who had Redstart, Waterthrush, Prairie Warbler and Eastern Wood-pewee in their yard.  While hanging around, getting well fed, the phone rang with a report of a Yellow-headed Blackbird where I had just been.  I rushed back out the parking lot where Peggy Baker had just lost the bird.  Luckily the bird was just hiding in the grass where I got a good look at the female before she flew away never to be seen again.  After this new addition to the year list (336), I birded the Duncan's yard some more before heading east to bird the Choctawhatchee, and did not find too much in the way of migrants.  Tennessee Warbler was a new addition to the year list, and Black-and-white Warbler was the only other noticeable migrant, but Prothonotary, Hooded, and Parula were represented in good numbers.  Several Acadian Flycatchers were also seen.

Sunday was rather slow without much diversity at Florida Caverns.  Acadian Flycatchers were calling everywhere, a Hooded Warbler was still singing, Red-eyed Vireos and Northern Parulas made up most of the flocks, and one Kentucky Warbler was the best bird of the morning.  The most interesting thing of the morning was a white deer attempting to hide in the woods.   None of the fields in Jackson County were good enough to hold shorebirds.  Half way down to St. George my friend called to tell me about Canada and Cerulean Warbler at some park I had never heard of in Tallahassee.  I could hit this tomorrow. St. George was not very exciting with Orchard Oriole, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Bank Swallow were the only noticeable birds.  I went to sleep hoping for some year birds on Monday.

Shortly after arriving Elinor Klap - Phipps Park, on Miller Landing Road, north of I-10 on Meridian Road in Tallahassee, I put my binoculars on a female Canada Warbler.  State bird, and year bird 338.  I birded the E Trail, reached by walking down and to the left from the second parking lot on Miller Landing Road, with Fritz Davis in search of Cerulean Warbler.  We couldn't find one of these, but Hooded Warblers were numerous and Veery, Ovenbird, Parula, and Kentucky were also seen well.  Michael Hartley arrived and quickly found a Chestnut-sided Warbler, which was new for the year, then I thought I heard the word "Cerulean," but when I looked up into the tree there was an all yellow bird.  Not a Cerulean, but a Blue-winged Warbler (which can sound like Cerulean if you really want to hear that).  Another year bird, but I was still lacking the bird I wanted.  Once all hope was lost I headed for Indian Mounds Park in search of Ceruleans.  Not ten minutes later, Michael called me up to report a Cerulean back at Elinor Klap.  I rushed back there only to find out the bird was lost, but there was a Blackburnian in the area, another potential year bird.  We split up and I came across the Blue-winged again, had excellent looks at Kentucky, and found my first Yellow-throated Warbler of the day, but just could not relocate the Cerulean.  Then the phone rang, and the Cerulean had been relocated.  Finally, a beautiful male, right over the E Trail.  While still excited over the Cerulean, a dull Blackburnian made a quick appearance making a great end to the trip.  I think about 15 species of warblers were seen in the park on Monday

Overall I got 8 year birds for the weekend bringing the year list up to 342 (331 NIB), but I really enjoyed hanging around birders in an area of the state where I rarely encounter other people.  

Good Birding,
Andy Bankert
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Melbourne Beach, FL

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