Sunday, May 5, 2013

Black-faced Grasquit,YES!, Saturday, May 4

I left Port Charlotte at 4:45 am and drove to the Fort Lauderdale area, Stirling Road, to pick up breakfast on the fly, and then headed south to Bill Baggs.  When I arrived shortly after 8:00 am, there was a long line of about 25 cars waiting to pay the fee for entry.  I finally arrived at No Name Harbour parking area at about 8:30 am.  There were lots of birders lined up along the bike path near the white gate.  The bird had not yet been seen.  Paul Bithorn was back again to try for this bird.    Larry Manfredi was there with his tour group.  Bob Wallace, from Gainesville, whom I met in New Jersey at the Pink-footed Goose, was also there.  There were warbler flocks flying all over.  What a difference between Thursday and Saturday.  A major fall-out had occurred.  There was a lot of excitement near the white gate at the bike path.  A Connecticut Warbler was sighted, and everyone rushed there to see it, but few did apparently including me.  Eventually, as 9:00 am was approaching, the Black-faced Grassquit was seen briefly and photographed by Bob Wallace in a sea grape in the Boy Scout area behind the white gate at the bike path.  Only a few people got to see it, but everyone was there.   Everyone scattered again looking all over.  Sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 am, the Black-faced Grassquit was seen along the path behind the white gate at the bike path in a different sea grape.  Eventually, the Black-faced Grassquit was found again in the sea grape in the Boy Scout area,  the same sea grape where it was first found, but this time out in the open, on a low hanging branch.  Almost everyone got to see it well.  It flew back deeper into the tree and disappeared but reappeared on a sea grape flower out in the open with large sea grape leaves as a background.  It was feeding on the flowers of the sea grape.  See photos below.  Both photos show the grassquit with a
flower in its beak. That's a life bird for me, number 796, and obviously a great new bird for the year.  This assumes that the bird will be accepted by the Florida Bird Records Committee as a wild bird and not a caged escapee, which Florida birders that I asked believe will happen.  On Friday. Larry Manfredi corrected the original identification from female to immature male Black-faced Grassquit.  Just in case readers do not know, Larry Manfredi is an expert on South Florida and Bahama birds and birding, and a really good guy.  The details about the new identification can be found on Tropical Audubon

Society Bird Board and Larry's web page.  Just as I was about the leave the area where I had photographed the Black-faced Grassquit, it flew into a sea grape branch at ground level not more than 10 feet from me.  I alerted the other birders and we enjoyed it one more time.  At about 11:00 am, I was walking toward my car to try to find a birder from Oregon to ask him the specifics about where he found the Budgerigar.  He saw it at a house with feeders.  He shared the information with me that came from Ron Smith, an expert birder in the St. Petersburg-Tampa area.  However, Ron did not post it to the internet, so I will not reveal the location on my blog.   As I was walking toward my car again this time to prepare to leave, some birders told me and another birder that Larry Manfredi's birding tour group had a Connecticut Warbler near the grill.  We walked quickly there and found the group.  They had  the Connecticut Warbler in a corner of the woods behind the grill along the paved path.  I was able to get an identifiable look at the bird as it walked along the ground near a mound of soil.  I could see the olive colored upper-parts, yellow under-parts and the light gray hood, as well as the elongated and slender profile.  I could barely see the top of the eye-ring.  However, Mourning Warbler which I have seen multiple times, does not have the same elongated and slender profile, and does not walk like a Connecticut Warbler.   The hood of a Morning Warbler is not the same color of gray as a Connecticut Warbler.  There is no doubt that this was a Connecticut Warbler and not a Mourning Warbler.  This time period is the optimum time for Connecticut Warbler in this part of Florida, according to the Florida birders present.  I stayed another couple of hours to try for a better look at a Connecticut Warbler, but without luck.  That's not surprising.  I have seen Connecticut Warbler several times in Ohio at Magee Marsh during migration.  One usually does not get multiple chances to see Connecticut Warbler during migration.  They are very secretive.  I left Bill Baggs at about 4:00 pm and drove to the West Coast of Florida to stay the night.  On the way to Port Charlotte, I stopped at Fort Meyers Beach to look for shorebirds near the Holiday Inn.  However, the tide was not low.  I saw a beautiful Roseate Spoonbill and a nearly breeding plumage Black-bellied Plover.

The Black-faced Grassquit and Connecticut Warbler make the total 389.

Next I will try for Nanday Parakeet and Budgerigar, and then the long drive home for the next phase.

1 comment:

  1. Jay,

    When you get back to Ohio, another Ruff, this one a male in full breeding plumage, has been reported. This one is in a closed area of Ottawa NWR. You may have to work something out with the refuge managers, or catch one of the tours to the closed area.
    Also, Don Morse, Jr. and I will be competing on the local birdathon this year and will be going to Adams county Saturday morning, 5/11 to try for Ruffed Grouse. We will let you know if we find one that can be reliably relocated (i.e., a drumming log or nest).

    Great birds so far! Congrats on the grassquit and all the others. Enjoy reading about your adventures.

    - David