Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birding St. Marks NWR

Although the weather didn't promise fallout conditions like last weekend, I got out for a bit and birded St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Bald Point State Park. I was hoping to photograph a few species that I had seen earlier this year, but haven't photographed yet. It was a laid back excursion but paid off nicely.

I started at Tower Pond. The trail in was pretty quiet and full of mosquitoes. A singing Yellow-throated Warbler gave nice views, though. At the pond, there weren't a ton of shorebirds, but the sight of a Wilson's Phalarope frantically running around the mudflats was hilarious. I've never seen this behavior before, and it was quite enjoyable. 

Wilson's Phalarope
I walked the trail near the lighthouse, but that was also slow. A Blackpoll Warbler and Sora were seen. The White-faced Ibis is still around. I was excited to see a scaup right off the road to the lighthouse and I figured it would be a Lesser. I got out of my car and I was thrilled to see that, to me, this looks like a Greater Scaup! This was also a new photo bird.

Greater Scaup
Also right along the road, in a mud bank, a Lesser Yellowlegs was present with a Least and Spotted Sandpiper. Yet another bird I had seen this year, just didn't get the chance to photograph.

Lesser Yellowlegs
I had one more target; Marsh Wren. They are common at St. Marks, but I usually only hear them. Until today, I hadn't put the effort into photographing them. I finally heard a Marsh Wren singing very near me, so I patiently waited. I caught the movement in the reeds and got a less-than-ideal photo. It never came out into the open, but this will do.

Marsh Wren
On my way out of the park I noticed a flooded field. Solitary Sandpiper came to mind, so I scanned to see if I could pick one out. I found three! One was kind enough to pose.

Solitary Sandpiper
I decided to head to Bald Point State Park to check through the shorebirds for any peeps. I didn't find any, but a Red Knot molting into breeding plumage was a small consolation. Sanderling were also molting, and the remaining dowitchers appeared fully molted.

It felt good to clean up some of my misses this year. I've been keeping track of my "birds photographed to year list" ratio. I've now photographed 92.5% of my year list, which I think is doing pretty well. And now I'm only two clicks away from 300!

I think tomorrow I'll spend at St. George Island State Park and hope a couple of warblers are kicking around. It doesn't look like there is any weather to put down the migrants... but here is to hoping. This is my last weekend in Florida. I will be back in Michigan next Saturday (5/4).

Just as a reminder, the purpose of this photographic big year is to raise awareness and pledges for bird conservation in Hawaii. For information on why Hawaii needs the pledges now more than ever, see this page. You can make a pledge on this page, and it is tax deductible! Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment