BIRDS OF SOUTH WEST FLORIDA – 77 species [v2016.04]
These amalgamated photos result from two family holidays to Marco Island, Florida, USA (28-12-2013 to 08-01 2014 and 28-12-2015 to 16-01-2016). Birding/wildlife sites visited included Marsh Trail, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, Tigertail Beach, Big Cypress National Preserve, Oasis Visitor Centre, River Turner Viewing as well as an Airboat outing to the Everglades and two other boat trips. The weather was a bit mixed but overall early January is a very nice time for birds, wildlife generally and photographers. Now, a few notes:
1) I appreciate that what I’ve called the Great White Heron may not be so and could just be a morph of the Great Blue Heron. Let us hope not – it is a wonderful bird and seems worthy of at least subspecies status.
2) It was most noticeable how many people were keen to talk and help. So in addition to our thanks to Michael and Elisabeth, our friends in the USA, I should also like to say how grateful I am to those birders we met on Tigertail Beach, Marco Island and elsewhere.
3) Statistics. A total of 77 species were seen and photographed on the trips but given more time, and perhaps a guide, the number might be higher.
4) Dowitchers at Tigertail Beach, Marco Island. In earlier versions of this gallery I mentioned the ID problems of separating Long [LbD] and Short-billed [SbD] Dowitchers. Since then no real progress has been made. Therefore I repeat, with a few minor changes, what was tabled then. Hopefully something may emerge.
“First, thanks to David Sibley and his ‘North American Bird Guide, 2nd edition, 2014’. Mr Sibley mentions that the respective calls of LbD and SbD are determinative – but unfortunately I wasn’t forewarned (none seen in 2014) of the problem and in any event, with a very large group of shorebirds, I’m not confident I could tell which bird/s was/were calling. However, I have managed to glean from David’s excellent book three ID indicators – all relevant to Dowitchers in nonbreeding plumage (which applies to all those photographed i.e. 7 to 9 January). The three indicators are: a) the SbD has a flat back whereas the LbD has a more rounded back; b) in flight, the LbD shows a darker tail than the SbD; and c) the SbD is “generally pale with streaked face, speckled breast, and paler flanks than LbD”. Looking at my 100 or so photos under consideration and applying, where appropriate, the foregoing tests it seems to me there is a case that all are of Short-billed Dowitchers.
Secondly, (and again I was lucky), on 7 January Harris Abramson, and on 9 January Ron Romano, each recorded eBird sightings of SbDs but none of LbDs. Later in the month there were reported ebird sightings of LbDs but the majority reported just SbDs”.
All in all, therefore, I have decided to record the Dowitchers as SbDs and include a small selection of them in this gallery.
Cardinal, Northern 01
Cardinal, Northern 02
Cardinal, Northern 03
Cardinal, Northern 04
Catbird, Gray 01
Catbird, Gray 02
Coot, American 01
Coot, American 02
Cormorant, Double-crested 01
Cormorant, Double-crested 02
Cormorant, Double-crested 03
Cormorant, Double-crested 04
Cormorant, Double-crested 05
© David Rayner Photography