Monday, May 6, 2013
De Soto County Park is on the Florida Gulf just south of St. Petersburg. We spent three days birding the arrow shaped island and found several Gray Kingbirds like this one on the left. We had hoped for a good warbler migration but it didn't materialize. We had Black-whiskered Vireos in the Mulberry trees along with Indigo Buntings and Blackpolls.
We stopped at Honeymoon Island and the most common bird here were Ospreys. There were many nests along the trail, some with very small young. This Osprey got himself a nice meal of sea trout.
We found a quiet campground at Chassahowitzka River. Large springs form this river. The campground area was filled with the song of the Carolina Wrens. This one put on quite a show.
We rented a tandem kayak and explored the maze of inlets and bayous filled with playful otters, schools of mullet and large alligators.
We then spent two days at Manatee Springs State Park. We found this Pileated Woodpecker searching for carpenter ants and eating them down quickly.
We found Prothonotary warblers among the cypress trees on the boardwalk.
For the next three days we stayed near St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge spending each day exploring the different habitats and trails. There were many Purple Gallinules in the cattail/pond lily area along with Least Bittern and Marsh Wrens.
For two days in a row we found this Mississippi Kite perched near the entrance to the Wildlife Refuge. This was one of our retirement target birds that we hoped to see in this area. The first day he was wet and ruffled so we were glad to see him looking his best the next day.
Here's a sight that stopped us - by the side of the road at St. Mark's was a Soft-shelled Turtle. Look closely under her shell for the egg she is laying.
We had our best bird list here with 122 species, including a great shorebird migration.
Next stop was Ochlochonee State Park which is famous for two things: White Squirrels (gray squirrel variant) and Red Cockaded Woodpeckers. At least one wanted their picture taken. The woodpeckers were being very quiet and secretive as they were nesting but we had some good sightings.
This is our last Florida stop - the snowy-white beaches of Destin. A walk on the beach yielded close encounters with several Least Terns. This act of passing fish is part of pair bonding.
We also saw four Masked Boobies fly by.
As we leave Florida for Southern Alabama we reflect on all the wonderful adventures of over six months. We have 258 species of birds for that time. It certainly was a great time.
Our best to all, God Bless! Ty & Ida Baumann