Sunday, April 28, 2013

No Chase for Woodstar; Black Point Park and the Everglades, Thursday, April 25

I got a late start on Thursday morning, because I was checking the internet, PA Birds and NARBA, to see if the Bahama Woodstar was still being seen.  There were no further reports of the Bahama Woodstar after about 12:30 pm yesterday, Wednesday, April 24.  It was a good thing that I waited to book a flight to PA from Florida to try to see the Bahama Woodstar.  Instead of booking a flight, I went to Black Point Park to at least check out this location for Mangrove Cuckoo.  I had only general instructions to this location and the canoe launch.  I arrived at the park at about 1:00 am rather late in the morning to be able to have a good shot at Mangrove Cuckoo.  I checked out the area but never felt confident that I found the canoe launch area, but did find a sign after the entry to the parking lot to the main boat launch area.  I will check back at this site, but will need to do some searching on the internet.  I left the area at about noon and headed south to Everglades National Park to try for Shiny Cowbird at Flamingo.  I arrived in flamingo at about 3:30 pm and walked around the visitor center area looing for the flock of cowbirds.  It took me about an hour to find the cowbirds, which I found by first finding a flock of grackles.  The cowbirds joined the grackle flock.  Eventually I followed the cowbird flock to the lawn area opposite the marina, and at first found two male Shiny Cowbirds in the flock.  Both the Shiny and Brown-headed Cowbirds in this flock were feeding on the ground in tall grass with mature seeds,  but both species of cowbirds were jumping up and grabbing the grass seeds to feed.  Eventually, this flock built up to almost seventy cowbirds.  The flock got more active as it got later.  I found three male Shiny Cowbirds and at least one female. See photos.
The first photo shows the male Shiny Cowbird with the female behind the male.  The second photo shows a good comparison of male Shiny Cowbird and Brown-headed Cowbird.  Note the difference in head and bill shape of the two birds in addition to the obvious color difference.  The head and bill shape difference helps one to pick out the Shiny Cowbird in a flock that is often in the shade where the brown head of the Brown-headed Cowbird is often not visible.  I walked around the area also hoping to hear or see Black-whiskered Vireo, but did not find any.  I heard Gray Kingbird twittering and saw a Great Crested Flycatcher.  I have seen several Great Crested Flycatchers while I have been in Florida, and am satisfied that the La Sagra's Flycatcher that I identified was not a Great Crested
Flycatcher.  I found 25 Black-necked Stilts at Echo Pond and a singing Prairie Warbler.  In the camp ground near the amphitheater area, I found a flock of shorebirds including 17 Marbled Godwits, 9 Black-necked Stilts about 8 Short-billed Dowitchers and 20+ Willets.  There were about 8 Black-bellied Plovers, 2 Least Sandpipers, 2 Spotted Sandpipers and three Ruddy Turnstones on the shore.  Nothing new  for the year.  I started driving north at about 6:00 pm and checked near the road to Mahogany Hammock for Seaside Sparrows, but was not successful.  I still needed Chuck-will's-widow for the year so I timed my arrival to Pinelands and the park headquarters area to be close to or at dusk.  I heard the first Chuck-will's-widow in the parking lot at Pinelands and a second one singing loudly near the headquarters. 
Shiny Cowbird and Chuck-will's-widow make the total 364.            

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