Birdwatching in Polk County – December 2009

Wood Duck by Dan at Lake Hollingsworth

Wood Duck by Dan at Lake Hollingsworth by Dan

What an interesting list of birds have been seen and counted here in Polk County, FL the last few days. On Saturday, the 19th, the Christmas Bird count was done on a windy day. According to the Ledger (our local newspaper), the count was low for some birds like tree swallows. Only 3 were spotted, yet in Louisiana, a migrating flock of about 5 million was reported. The Annual Christmas Bird Count has been going on around the country for 110 years.

This years total bird count for our county was 123 species. Last year there were 132 species counted. Some of the missing species this year “included horned grebe, brown thrasher, Baltimore Oriole, Ovenbird, Northern Flicker and the Field and White-crowned Sparrows.” They did have some good finds, like 7,000 White Pelicans (mostly out at our favorite place, Circle B Bar Reserve), “111 Bald Eagles, 55 Brown Pelicans, 21 Wild Turkeys (Dan and I saw 10 along the road Sunday), 21 Roseate Spoonbills, and 167 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.” They were surprised to find Buffleheads and Canvasbacks, 6 Ruby-throated Hummers, 4 Western Kingbirds and 8 Common Loons. As you can see, birding is great here this time of the year. Those of you up North get to have these birds in the summer, but we love it when they come down here for their “winter vacation.”

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)

Also, today, Cole Fredricks posted on the state listing service “BRDBRAIN” a list of birds he spotted yesterday (12/20) at the Circle B. He has 69 species that he saw there. Makes me want to grab the binoculars and the camera and head out there SOON! He even has photos of a possible White-faced Ibis, which is very rare here.  Here is what he listed:

Great Blue Heron at Circle B Bar Reserve

Great Blue Heron at Circle B Bar Reserve

Location: Circle B Bar Ranch (Reserve)
Observation date: 12/20/09
Number of species: 69

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck – 80
Gadwall – 2
Mottled Duck – 8
Blue-winged Teal – 22
Northern Shoveler – 13
Ring-necked Duck – 20
Lesser Scaup – 1
Pied-billed Grebe – 20
American White Pelican – 700
Brown Pelican – 1

Wilson's Snipe at Circle B by Dan

Double-crested Cormorant – 110
Anhinga – 22
American Bittern – 1
Great Blue Heron – 25
Great Egret – 60
Snowy Egret – 1
Little Blue Heron – 8
Tricolored Heron – 7
Cattle Egret – 12
Green Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 4
White Ibis – 205
Glossy Ibis – 15
White-faced Ibis – 1
Roseate Spoonbill – 3

Roseate Spoonbill at Circle B

Roseate Spoonbill at Circle B

Wood Stork – 110
Black Vulture – 10
Turkey Vulture – 25
Osprey – 5
Bald Eagle – 4
Northern Harrier – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 4
American Kestrel – 1
Common Moorhen – 55
American Coot – 330
Limpkin – 6
Sandhill Crane – 10
Killdeer – 3
Wilson’s Snipe – 1
Laughing Gull – 25
Ring-billed Gull – 5
Caspian Tern – 21
Mourning Dove – 2

Sandhill Crane at Cirle B by Tommy Tompkins

Belted Kingfisher – 4
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 7
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
Eastern Phoebe – 8
White-eyed Vireo – 1
Blue-headed Vireo – 1
Blue Jay – 2
Fish Crow –  2
Carolina Wren – 1
House Wren – 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 35
American Robin – 2

White Pelicans in Flight - Circle B Bar by Dan

White Pelicans in Flight - Circle B Bar

Northern Mockingbird – 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 5
Pine Warbler – 3
Palm Warbler – 15
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Common Yellowthroat – 2
Savannah Sparrow – 3
Swamp Sparrow – 2
Red-winged Blackbird – 50
Eastern Meadowlark – 4
Boat-tailed Grackle – 5

What surprised me out of the lists, no one mentioned all the 100+ Brown-headed Cowbirds in my yard everyday for the last week or so. Since we are only about 3 miles from the Circle B, as the “bird flies,” surely some of them must be there. Then again, the way they are eating up my seed, I may have the whole Polk County Cowbird population feeding here. Dan and I were birding last week at Lake Hollingsworth and Lake Morton. We saw (not on the above lists) 3 Wood Ducks, Mallards, 50+ Ring-necked Ducks, 80+ Ruddy Ducks, and Double-crested Cormorants swimming with the 15-20 White Pelicans.

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