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The four "regulars" -- Margaret England, Steve Buczynski, Alan Murray  
and me, were the only ones to show up for the STA-5 tour yesterday.  
That's a shame because the sun was hidden behind towering cumulus  
clouds for most of the tour and the pleasant breezes atop the  
impoundment dikes also made for a rather comfortable day,  
weatherwise. Birdwise, it was superb as usual. We added another new  
species to the STA-5 checklist: a Laughing Gull. This is #160 for  
those keeping track. However, THE highlight of the day HAD to be the  
thousands of concentrated waders and especially American White  
Pelicans feeding as a group in the northeast cell. We estimated that  
there were between 750-1000 AMWPs at STA-5 yesterday! Not an  
exaggeration! This is even far more than what we record there in  
winter. What's up with that? Virtually all of the pelicans were  
juveniles or presumably unattached males. At least, this is what Alan  
and I could figure out. We can only surmise that the wildfires that  
have been burning in Lake Okeechobee to the the north for several  
weeks have caused these birds to relocate to STA-5. Of course, we'd  
love to hear what others have to say on the matter as well. Still,  
this total HAS to be one of the highest totals for this species ever  
recorded in June in the state. There were also well over 250 Roseate  
Spoonbills yesterday at STA-5. One of them was banded and we were  
able to read the bands: orange over black metal band with vertical  
letters "CR". Brennan, can you shed some light on where this bird was  
banded and when?

Other nice finds were more than 50 Black Skimmers; 12 or so Caspian  
Terns; at least 10 Ring-necked Ducks and 12 Blue-winged Teal; > 20  
Purple Swamphens; 15+ Purple Gallinules (mostly feeding on the  
flowers of Alligator Flag); > a dozen Least Bitterns, many feeding  
out in the open on the algae(?) mats and away from their normal  
vegetative hiding places; and 7 Barn Owls found in abandoned ag  
structures along Blumberg Road. A summering(?) Greater Yellowlegs in  
high breeding plumage was an unexpected find as well.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) was pumping water  
into some of the cells and a few of the affected nesting Black-necked  
Stilts were desperately trying to raise up their nest sites from the  
impending flood by picking up algae or other nearby water plants to  
shore up their nests. The eggs were quite exposed during this time.  
Some might find this timely article interesting reading as it relates  
to this very issue:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl- 
flpbirdswater0613pnjun13,0,7528970.story?track=rss

I'll forego relating all of the birds that Alan and I saw on our trip  
out to STA-5 from Naples but I must pass on a few observations.  
First, the so-called "Farm 8 Wetlands" on CR835 north of the Ocean  
Boy Shrimp Farms is now totally surrounded by a levee/high  
embankment, effectively drying it up. The vegetation i.e. willows,  
etc. that was just there a few weeks ago has been leveled. This area  
might become another STA-type reservoir but only time will tell.  
Despite this disturbing scene, there were still a half-dozen or so  
Limpkins still there and a few Snail Kites plying the nearby SFWMD  
canal along CR835. Lastly, earlier in the week when I was guiding a  
few visiting birders out that way in Hendry County, we stopped at the  
huge ranchland area on CR833 a mile or two west of the big curve  
north of the intersection of CR835 & Government Rd. (aka Snake Rd.  
aka CR833). There we found well over 50 Burrowing Owls on either side  
of CR833 -- the most I've ever seen at this location.

Here is the day list for STA-5 for Saturday, June 14, 2008:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck   2
Fulvous Whistling-Duck  >10
Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal   12
Ring-necked Duck  10
Northern Bobwhite
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican  750 - 1000!!!
Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill  > 250 (one banded individual)
Wood Stork
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Purple Swamphen   20
Purple Gallinule     15
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Limpkin
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Laughing Gull   (New addition to the STA-5 checklist)
Caspian Tern    12
Black Skimmer    50
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Barn Owl   7 (the most we've ever seen -- along Blumberg Rd.)
Common Nighthawk
Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo
Purple Martin   4
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Boat-tailed Grackle

The next STA-5 tour is scheduled for Saturday, July 19th, 2008. C'mon  
out. You won't regret it. Here's a link to all of the upcoming tour  
dates along with maps and directions:

http://www.tropicalaudubon.org/sta.html

Cheers.

Vince

Vincent Lucas
Naples, FL
[log in to unmask]
http://www.flickr.com/photos/leppyone/
http://www.caloosabirdclub.org



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