I omitted the most dramatic sighting from yesterday in Lafayette county.  Returning on US 27, I saw a flock of at least 25 Swallow-tail Kites flying low over a cattle feed station.  A couple miles further, I saw a dozen or so over a cow pasture.  It seemed odd to see them in such a large group at this time of the year.  I usually see them kettling in the fall, staging before their flight south.

I also had a couple Chipping Sparrows just as I turned off 27 headed for Troy Spring SP.  And a pair of Green Heron in Mallory Swamp.

Rex Rowan says it's not La-FAY-ette, it's La-FAY-it!  I do believe he's right.

Dotty Robbins
High Springs

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BRDBRAIN] Lafayette county today, self-indulgent and who cares?
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 01:28:23 GMT

Bet you haven't heard many birding reports from this county!

My initial plan was to try and get, pre-first light, Screech and Great Horned Owls in Lafayette county.  

Didn't happen, though I suspect my targets saw/heard me, standing forlorn, yet hopeful, by various low-traffic country roads, ever seeking that bark-free, rooster-free sound zone.  

Only Chucks.  And I appreciate their effort.

Throw it in?  Or continue?  When you've birded a county a bit, the prospect for new birds is limited.  

I continued.  

On to Koon Lake, my most productive spot in this county.

Sadly, it's mostly dried up with a few puddles remaining.  

But this allows one to walk the former lake bed.  

Only both Yellowlegs.  And Marsh Wren, heard.  New county bird, gee, easy, why didn't I have this one before? 

Ok now what?  Ruth Springs & Troy Springs SP.  Migrants, maybe!  

On the way, US 27, I spy a funny-looking Mockingbird on a field fence.  U-turn, traffic not so bad, especially if you pay attention.  My mocker has a yellow belly and a pale gray head, and it's a Western Kingbird.  Way cool, and a totally unexpected new county bird.

I drive on, knowing I'm already ahead of the curve.

Ruth Springs is flooded out on the main road, and even more so on the secondary.  Oh well, and out of there.  What's a couple more U-
Turns?  Troy Springs SP has barriers posted, limiting access to the river because of the flooding. 

Hey, I don't wanna plunge, I just wanna bird! 

That's the Suwannee I'm talking about.

I've never driven out to Mallory Swamp WMA because I heard it wasn't very good.  But this seems the day.

On the way, on US 27 again, I spy an evocative silohuette on a snag.  Probably a vulture, but there's something about Mary.  Another U-turn.  My bins show a Bald Eagle, so what, who cares, but with no lakes in this county, this is a gift, a new county bird. 

I drive into Mallory Swamp WMA, with the prejudice that it's nothing.

And it's pitiful.  A few stands of planted pine and mostly devastated landscape.  I can't even guess if this is being managed, and if so, for what.  I drive one route, appreciating that it is wetter than usual because of recent rains.  I spy a bird in a tree, gee, something, and stop, chiding myself, oh yeah, now you're stopping for Mourning Doves...but bins prove it to be a Merlin.  Up, down, any way, it's a Merlin, so that's a new bird for Layfayette.  

As if thinking what I'm thinking, it flies off after a bit, seeking better turf.

Because it's wet along the road, and I see signs of permanent wet vegatation, willows and such, I start thinking rails, and pick a couple spots to play tape.  I hear a maybe King Rail response at one point.  I doubt myself, but then I hear it again at another spot.  

I drive out of Mallory and head home, kind of amazed that I could find 5 new birds in this county.  Keep in mind, no migrants, 

Bu the way, forget all your vestige French, in Florida this county is pronounced:  La FAY ette.

It's taken me 6 years to master that.

Dotty Robbins
High Springs

Now that's country.

Dotty Robbins
High Springs

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