Saturday 15 December 2012

Florida 14th November 2012

Birded all day around the coastal area of Fort Myers. One of the better days of the trip mainly down to the selection and close views of waders.
First spot was the Little Estero Lagoon, an area of mostly sandy beach with alot of people searching for seashells and walkers. The birds were well used to all this activity which meant great views of most of the stuff. There's a small lagoon just in behind the beach but it was fairly quiet in there.
Tried the famous J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island later. The visitor centre here is well worth a visit. It was probably the best VC I came across in my fortnight in Florida. There a big collection of wood carvings housed here mostly wildfowl and all by Jim Sprankle. The Harlequin, Bufflehead and Hooded Merganser cravings were unreal. The level of detail was just amazing possibly better than the real thing. The refuge is accessed by a four mile long one way wildlife drive. The main target here for me was Yellow-crowned Night Heron, one of the few heron/egret species that I hadn't seen up until this point. This is supposed to be a regular spot for them but even after driving the trail on two occasions I couldn't find any. The tide seemed to very high at the time despite the guides telling me that it was low tide at the time. There were small numbers of pelicans and a max of 200 waders present but certainly not the chockablock conditions that I had been led to believe from the literature on the site.
A far better and smaller site was Bunche Beach. Good numbers of waders were found on the righthand side. A Long-billed Curlew has wintered here for a few years and is a very scarce bird in Florida. I managed to pick it up way in the distance roosting with other waders across a impassable channel. Thankfully after a time the tide dropped somewhat and most of the waders came to me including the curlew. Amongst the 3 or 4 Piping Plover here I photographed a colour ringed bird. I managed to find out later that it had been ringed as chick this summer gone up in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan a good 2000 kilometres to the North. There's supposed to be less than 100 pairs breeding in Great Lakes area. Globally there are only 6000 pairs.

Adult American Oystercatcher

First-winter American Oystercatcher
Piping Plover, possibly of the melodus Atlantic coast breeding race.
First-winter Piping Plover
First-winter Piping Plover of the circumcinctus race, much paler.

Colour ring Piping Plover's journey.

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover

Semiplamated Plover
Grey Plover

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper (short-billed individual)

Western Sandpiper (long billed individual)

Short-billed Dowitcher

Western Willet
Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Long-billed Curlew

Long-billed Curlew
First-winter Ring-billed Gull

Cabot's Tern

Cabot's Terns

First-winter Royal Tern

American White Pelican, the original "Snow-bird" according to a passing guide on a tour bus.

Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican & Roseate Spoonbill.

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Pileated Woodpecker


  1. Hi Dermot

    Just finished reading all your blog entries on your Florida trip. Great photos and smashing trip report. The Piping Plover and Long-billed Curlew shots are superb as are Cabot's and Royal Tern. Well done.

    1. Thanks Graham. Very enjoyable trip. The birding is so easy over there, would certainly recommend it to anyone.

  2. Superb write-up Dermot. The images are drawer. I love the heron/egret shots and the waders are just brilliant. Must get over there at some stage!

  3. I managed to see and photograph some Piping Plovers at two sites in Michigan last May, despite the great rarity of the Great Lakes population. Here's hoping they hang on.