During a quick morning trip and run down at St. Marks NWR, I had 58 species
over about 3.5 hours. Most notably, I found the American Flamingo on the
back side of Stony Bayou II, where it was actively feeding. I birded only
two sites; the road down to the Helispot and a loop around Stony Bayou II.
Tram Road down to the Helispot had a mix of small songbirds; House,
Carolina and Sedge Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white &
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Despite a weather report to the contrary, it rained.
I changed into running clothes, slung my binoculars bandoleer-style and
started running down the Double Dikes and around Stony Bayou II. I stopped
a lot. I had Swamp, Savannah, Vesper and Henslow’s Sparrow. Henslow’s was a
surprise. I’ve never found them away from the coast. Ducks included
Blue-winged & Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Redhead and Ring-necked Duck. I
also saw Wilson’s Snipe, Dunlin and a very late White-rumped Sandpiper.
Sora were calling and I had a few Marsh Wrens.
The American Flamingo was in open water in the Eastern end of the pool. It
was actively feeding during the fifteen minutes that I had it under
observation. It would stand on its right leg and move its left leg back and
forth, presumably to stir up the bottom sediment. While it was doing this,
its head was submerged and moving from side to side. It would occasionally
stop, raise its head and then continue feeding. I’ve read that flamingos
eat algae, crustaceans, aquatic plants and diatoms by filtering them out of
My running time on the 4.7-mile loop was not very good. In my defense,
there were a lot of distractions.