Mid-morning Birding

After making a mid-morning decision to go into the refuge, a late start afforded a decent four hours of birding and an opportunity to appreciate North Florida in its full, thermal glory.

I walked the south double dike to the flap gates and back and had modest success with shorebirds, but nothing unusual. The abundant Least Sandpipers are joined by Western and a few Semi-sands to provide good comparative peep study. The Leasts are showing a great deal of plumage variation now; you might have three or four of them together in a scope view and they all look somewhat different. Enough Lesser Yellowlegs are around that it's not difficult to find side to side comparisons with Greater. Some of the Black-bellied Plovers are juveniles and rather golden looking, so don't jump to a wrong conclusion. Stony Bayou #1 is being re-flooded after a brief and partial drawdown. With the very strong tides, the little shorebird habitat that was present this afternoon may be gone already, not to return for months.

Next stop was Lighthouse Pond for a quick scan. Three N. Shoveler females were the only ducks I saw today, but FOS for me. Spoonbills have been present here off and on, but no luck today. Lots of resting Willets, worth looking through for something odd.

Tower Pond was mostly flooded due to the very high tide, but some flats and shallows remained. The expected species of shorebird were present, many dozens of Bl. Skimmers, and ten Marbled Godwits and four Reddish Egrets are more of those species than I usually see.

With the extreme high tides over the next few days, shorebirds may be pushed into areas where not normally seen, so any shallow area in the interior pools are worth a look.