I started the month birding at yet another new place. Thanks to Deena Mickelson, a small group gained access to the Rosemary Hill Observatory near Bronson in Levy County. She invited the three members of the Alachua Audubon Society's Field Trip Committee to look at the property as a possible field trip site for the 2017-2018 schedule. I had hoped to see my first migrant warblers of the year there, but it was not to be. We had a terrific morning, watched a couple of Great Horned Owls fly around the property, and saw a good collection of birds, but none of them were particularly cooperative about posing for the camera. And there were no migrant warblers. Deena was nice enough to share this photo of (left to right) Rex Rowan, me, and Barbara Shea near one of the two observatories.
|Rex, me, and Barbara near the observatory. Photo by Deena Mickelson.|
|There she is ... my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the year. Let migration begin!|
|White Ibises trolling for bugs in a yard in Cedar Key.|
|Brown-headed Cowbird. Hey, there was nothing else to photograph!|
Next I drove along the road to the airport. The small beaches had a few nice sights. All winter long, our Willets are a pale, drab gray. In spring, their plumage takes on some interesting patterns.
|Willet finding a small snack.|
|Sanderlings at Cedar Key|
|Royal Terns on posts where there used to be a dock.|
|Brown Pelican near the public beach and tour boat docks in Cedar Key.|
Not to worry ... the drought came to an end just two days later when one of the Ewing brothers found a Swainson's Warbler right there in Gainesville at the Loblolly Environmental Center! We can go many years without seeing a Swainson's in Alachua County, so this was a great find. I didn't get there until early the next morning, and I had myself convinced that the bird would be long gone. But hope is the life blood of birders, so a friend and I found ourselves walking the Loblolly boardwalk looking for the marker left for us to show where the bird had been a day earlier.
|Part of the boardwalk at Loblolly Environmental Center.|
|Prairie Warbler at Loblolly|
|Swainson's Warbler at Loblolly Environmental Center.|
Meanwhile, back at the drip pool, I got this photo of a Gray Catbird that I really like. How can plain gray look so beautiful?
|The Gray Catbird is one of the last wintering birds to leave Florida.|
|Bell Ridge WEA. This part of the loop borders a local farm.|
|I love that color.|
Along the way, we found my first Summer Tanager of the year. This is a spectacular sight in a green forest!
|Summer Tanagers are decked out in a vibrant red that is unlike any other.|
|Bachman's Sparrow at Bell Ridge WEA.|
|Eastern Kingbird in Cedar Key.|
Then the day took a big leap forward. One tree over from the Yellow-throated was a male Cape May Warbler. They're one of my favorite warblers, and always a cause for celebration. Just look at him!
|Cape May Warbler at the museum in Cedar Key.|
|Look at those head stripes on the Worm-eating Warbler!|
|Orchard Oriole at the museum in Cedar Key.|