Our own State Senator Charlie Dean, who chairs the Senate’s Environmental Committee and is in the last three years of his political career, stated recently in the Chronicle “ I love my cattle, I love my John Deeres, but I love my water first.” Even those who have been critical of Dean in the past seem convinced of his sincerity when it comes to Florida’s water. Indeed, Florida Audubon gave him an award for his efforts at their Assembly last year, and Executive Director Eric Draper even labeled him “ Senator Springs”.
Eileen Riccio and Jim Meyer lead the walk for twenty participants at Ft Cooper on Saturday. Our mornings for birding the past month have started out a wee bit too foggy. But in true fashion, the fog lifted and the birds came out. As we have seen or not from our past excursions; ducks have been scarce. Blue-winged Teal was the exception. Grebe, Anhinga, herons, coots, one solitary shorebird - Greater Yellowlegs, and Bald Eagle were among the birds viewed on the lake. The highlight was the pair of Sandhill Cranes that were nesting.
Twenty enthusiasts turned out for this trek to Dunedin. We had 53 species with all but 15 being shorebirds. Loons, Grebes, Peeps, Gannets, Oyster Catchers, Godwits and Plovers were present in the waters of Honeymoon and Howard's Causeway. Lunch was a very integral part of the trip and of course that just had to take place at "The Lucky DIll." This is a favorite place for many of the group. After superb lunches, we continued to Howards Beach. But the Bar-tailed Godwit that has been seen there in the past eluded us.
What rain? What thunderstorms and lightning? Lake Apopka. WOW! We had 88 species! Did I say WOW? I must have.
There are so many conservation issues swirling around in my brain lately that when I sit down to write my blog I seem to get brain cramps! Since there are also many talented and articulate individuals writing about Florida issues these days, I have decided to calm my brain today by directing you to two of my favorites, both of whom recently tackled an issue that I found particularly outrageous, though it got very little publicity.
Thirteen of us set out from the first parking lot after 8:00 a.m. We turned right out across Heron Hideout where we met three more who had arrived earlier and adhered to the adage "the early bird gets the worm." We somehow missed another couple who must have gotten there after we had left. It's difficult to get that large of group on the same page when all are travelling at different times. The marsh was "hopping" with all manner of birds. We had Egrets, Herons, Ibis, Bald Eagles, along this path with the highlight being at least 6 Purple Gallinules and the American Bittern.
The following is a summary of the locations birded and birds identifyed for January 2014.
What fog? A little" fogginess" never hurt anyone. Right? The boat ride went on as planned with two boats filled. Some of the highlights were: Double-crested Cormorants adorning the dead trees, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, Wild Turkeys, Common Loons, Horned Grebe, Wood Stork, Brown and American White Pelican, Belted Kingfishers, also our beloved Bald Eagle. We were treated to a view of a River Otter as he scampered in and out of the water and an Alligator or two along the shore. Even with the low visibility, a total of 35 species were recorded.
What snow & ice? Did we get a winner, or what? St. Marks gave 10 of us the opportunity to rack up life birds. We had a whopping 109 species for the trip. The highlights are tough to select, but life birds for many and for me were Cave Swallow, White-winged Scoter and Saltmarsh Sparrow! Several other species of Sparrow including Seaside, Swamp, Song, and Savannah, Sedge and Marsh Wrens, Mergansers, Canvasback, Bufflehead, and other ducks. We did not get the Cinnamon Teal that has been reported, but the other sightings were winners.