During a long nine-hour birding day that started in the dark just before
6:00 am, I logged 79 species at St. Marks NWR. Our current rock star bird,
American Flamingo, continues in the Northeast corner of Stony Bayou I. The
flamingo, which first showed up on Wednesday, has attracted every birder in
a 100-mile radius and a few from even further away. There’s no telling how
long this bird will stick, but if you ever want to see a flamingo, go now.
However, there’s lots more than the flamingo to see at the refuge. For
night birds this morning I had Great Horned, Eastern Screech and Barred
Owl. The Barred Owls were at the Double Bridges and the other two species
were calling along the road out to the Helispot. I also had Sora, Clapper,
King and Virginia Rail, as well as, Wilson’s Snipe and Wood Duck. I had
positioned myself to be at the East end of the Double Dikes at first light
to check on the flamingo. The morning wader flight from the roost on the
North end of East River Pool had a healthy number of Great & Snowy Egrets,
Little Blue & Tricolored Herons and White Ibis.
I was leading a 9:00 am field trip and while we were stopped on Lighthouse
Road at the Double Dikes for the Vermilion Flycatcher and the American
Flamingo, a Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird popped up. The bird was well-observed
and photographed by many birders, but remained silent. We also had a Bobcat
walk out into the road.
In the Lighthouse area we had a first winter Franklin’s Gull that I believe
was first found by Jeff O’Connell. We also had Royal, Sandwich & Forster’s
Tern and a single Horned Grebe.
Tower Pond had a slew of shorebirds: Black-bellied & Semipalmated Plover,
Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper,
Dunlin and both Short and Long-billed Dowitchers. There were two Reddish
Egrets and two flyby Redheads. Additionally, two Otters crossed the levee.
I had Parula, Redstart & Black-and-white Warbler at the Double Bridges
along with many Yellow-rumped Warblers and maybe fifty Great Egrets that
were noisily feeding in the swamp near the first bridge. Overhead in the
refuge there were many Tree Swallows along with a few Barn Swallows. Flocks
of White Pelicans are migrating through the refuge.
On Headquarters Pond I had my first White-faced Ibis of the year and on
Picnic Pond I had Gadwall. There was a Merlin on a dead pine near the Eagle
nest at the Lighthouse.
There are lots of good birds and plenty of friendly birders down at St.
Marks. You should go!