|Saddle Creek Nature Park, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida|
First, I noticed that my fancy writes-in-the-rain-and-over-grease pen was missing. I went back to look for it, found it, but missed the day's only shorebird, a Spotted Sandpiper, a bird I do not have in Polk. Grrr. Then there was a misadventure with the car (Are those my keys on the seat ... inside the locked car?). Thank God for AAA and Rapid Rescue! OK, on to the trail. Very quickly we saw a beautiful Ovenbird and a mixed flock of some of the usual woodland species. Emphasis on usual - I already had nearly all of them. But then a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (right) moved just above me. Great bird. Maybe this will be easy. Painfully slowly we added a few more ticks to our day list, the best being a gorgeous male Black-throated Blue Warbler.
By now it was 1:00 so we decided to stop for lunch and count up our haul: six new species. Dang. If this were a bank robbery I would have had to apply for a loan on the way out. We decided to drive along some county roads looking for a field with shorebirds (nope), or some Bluebirds or maybe an Eastern Kingbird hanging out on a wire (nope), or even a calling Bobwhite (nope). Finally at one spot we saw hundreds of swallows. We hopped out of the car and searched the flock carefully for something different. Eventually, our efforts paid off with clean white forehead and squared tail of a Cliff Swallow, #97.
It was getting to be time to head back to Alachua County, but on an impulse we pulled off at Colt Creek State Park. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Just inside the park we heard a Pine Warbler (below). While looking at it we heard a Brown-headed Nuthatch who flew in to see us (I love those little guys!). Right beyond was a juvenile Eastern Towhee, and over there ... look ... a Summer Tanager ... #102! So we worked for about 8 hours for 7 new species, and then found 5 more in about 15 minutes.