Fort Myers, Florida, March 7–15, 2019 (Part 2 of 4)

And we’re back!

Before my trip, I did a literature review of the area, searching Florida birding websites, eBird, etc. I started a list of target birds and target areas near Fort Myers and also purchased A Birder’s Guide to Florida from the Book Bin in Salem*. The book was basically written for birders from (or travelling to) Florida and who want to know exactly where to go to bird. It’s a great book.

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While reading this book, searching online, and dreaming of Painted Buntings and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, I happened upon a Fort Myers–area birding club, the Caloosa Bird Club. Formed in 1958 as a mostly seasonal club for birding “snowbirds” (aka future Linda), the club hosts field trips in the Fort Myers area in the winter, and they were holding a field trip to the Corkscrew Swamp during my stay in Florida. I quickly signed up a guest.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

On fieldtrip day, Monday, March 11, I left Fort Myers before sunrise and drove down to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, arrived just after sunrise, found a parking spot, and met with at least 20 other birders and our Audubon tour guide.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

The sanctuary is owned by the National Audubon Society. From their website,

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary occupies approximately 13,000 acres in the heart of the Corkscrew Watershed in Southwest Florida, part of the Western Everglades. It is primarily composed of wetlands. These include the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in the world (approximately 700 acres), which is the site of the largest nesting colony of Federally Endangered Wood Storks in the nation. (Audubon 2019)

This place is an oasis. We birded all morning along the boardwalk trail that travels through cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and wet prairies. The birding club members were also very gracious; because I was an out-of-state guest, they did their best to make sure I saw nearly every bird. At first, before they remembered my name, I’d hear “Where’s the guest?!” “We’ve got the bittern!” They also have club hats and nametags that they wear. Of course I wanted both.   

In all, the group collectively saw 61 species that morning! Highlights or lifers for me were Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager (the trip bird!), Anhinga, Indigo Bunting, White-eyed Vireo, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse.

Ok, time for photos—some good, and some for the sake of simply seeing a particular bird. Enjoy!

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Slash pine habitat; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Brown-Headed Nuthatch; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Caloosa Birding Club; slash pine habitat; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Pileated Woodpecker; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Indigo Bunting; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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American Bittern; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Giant bald cypress; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Giant bald cypress; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Giant bald cypress; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Purple Gallinule; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Anhinga; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Mama alligator; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Baby alligators; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Purple Gallinule; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Anhingas; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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New Florida friends and a alligator; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Caloosa Birding Club; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Green Heron; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Florida cottonmouth; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Barred Owl; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Collier County, Florida; March 11, 2019.

I love that this trip to Florida included not only new birds, but also new birding friends/contacts. I can’t wait to bird with this group again next year. 

My eBird checklist from the fieldtrip is here

Literature Cited

National Audubon Society. 2019. The Sanctuary. Available at: http://corkscrew.audubon.org/about/sanctuary.

Footnotes

* The Book Bin in Salem has become a sort of book-version of the Room of Requirements for me. If I have a book in mind (or really a topic I hope is covered in a book), I simply need to walk in there with intent, and within 15 minutes in the store, I find the exact book I need. I don’t even need a wand for this (even though I have one). This Florida birding book is one example, but another time, I went in looking for a book on telemark skiing, and they had such a book.

February 17, 2018

The Winter Wings Festival, a fantastic yearly birding festival in Klamath Falls, Oregon, yielded me 26 new species for my 2018 Oregon list! We birded all day this past Saturday, as part of the festival, with some local experts who I believe knew how to summon specific species.

Tour leader: “We often see Ferruginous Hawks in this area. I’m sure we’ll see one today.”

a few minutes later …

Tour leader: “Look, a Ferruginous Hawk.”

The bus quickly slows to a stop, and said hawk lands on the ground for us, and we are able to admire its distinguishing features.

This happened with a few more species, including a Loggerhead Shrike (on the California side of the show, so I can’t count it toward my formal 2018 Oregon list).

We planned on birding this past Sunday, too, as part of the festival, but winter decided to finally visit Oregon, so we hit the road early Sunday morning so that we could get to Salem before dark. We did, but what took us 4 hours on Friday took us nearly 7 on Sunday.

Back to Saturday, and the details of which are as follows (I’ll let the bullets and photos speak for themselves; y’all aren’t actually reading any of this anyway):

What: Big Day Birding Field Trip, Winter Wings Festival, Klamath Falls, Oregon

When: Saturday, February 17, 2018, 7am to 4pm

Where: Lake Ewauna, Putnam’s Point, and Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Oregon; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills, Oregon; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, California

Why: To bird with local experts and to bag some southern Oregon bird species

Species Total: 71
*New Birds for 2018: 29
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 115

These numbers include the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I saw near Beaverton, Oregon, earlier in the week; see end of post)

*List of New Birds for 2018 from the Winter Wings Festival

Greater White-fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
Canvasback
Barrow’s Goldeneye
Black-crowned Night-heron
Rough-legged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Golden Eagle
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Acorn Woodpecker
Prairie Falcon
Say’s Phoebe
Black-billed Magpie
Tree Swallow
Mountain Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Pygmy Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Townsend’s Solitaire
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Tricolored Blackbird
Red Crossbill
Evening Grosbeak 

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Barrow’s Goldeneye; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Black-crowned Night-Heron roost (total individuals estimated at 104!); Klamath River, just north of Lake Ewauna; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Barred Owl; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Canvasback; Running Y Ranch; Klamath Falls, Oregon; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Hermit Thrush; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge visitors’ center; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. I can’t count this species because I saw it in California, but look at this guy!

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Loggerhead Shrike; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt. I can’t count this species because I saw it in California, but it’s a Loggerhead Shrike!!

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Prairie Falcon; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

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Birding Pals; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt

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Me and my K. Falls Birding Pals; Lower Klamath Lake Road, Klamath Hills; February 17, 2018; photograph by Clint Burfitt

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Our drive back to Salem, Oregon, somewhere along Highway 58 near Crescent Lake; February 18, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt

 

Earlier that week:

Also, as planned, I stopped by Commonwealth Lake Park this past Tuesday to see if I could find the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker again. I did, or rather some other birders did already, so this was rather effortless.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Beaverton, Oregon; February 13, 2018.

 

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Commonwealth Lake Park; Beaverton, Oregon; February 13, 2018.