Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Florida Scrub Jays, Snail Kites and more showy birds

Where we're staying in Cape Coral, by fortune, seems to be the southernmost reliable site for the endemic and enigmatic Florida Scrub Jay. Listed as vulnerable, it was a new species for me - as early on this morning, I managed to see three birds at a regular site in the north of the city (east of Chiquita Boulevard north and Kismet Parkway West by the intersections of NW14th Avenue and NW26th Street). The birds were pretty inquisitive, with one deciding to perch on the car wing mirror and see what was up!

Florida Scrub Jay Cape Coral, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Lots of Eastern Meadowlarks here too, as well as a couple of Loggerhead Shrikes, American Kestrels, American Robins, Palm Warblers, an Eastern Phoebe and a flyover adult Bald Eagle. Not bad before breakfast. And shortly after that, and picking Karen up at the hotel, we were onto a nice showy juvenile Snail Kite frequenting an urban canal to the north of Fort Myers Beach at the intersection of John Morris Road and Summerlin Road. A really good bird, making the most of its surroundings and plucking out water snails from nowhere!

1st-winter Snail Kite near Fort Myers Beach, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Having driven through the overdevelopment and grimness that is Fort Myers Beach, it was onto Lovers Key State Park which was a great contrast. White sandy beaches and showy birds galore - a couple of Bonaparte's Gulls were a nice surprise among the large numbers of Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls while Snowy Plovers, Sanderlings, Willets, Royal Terns, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Herons were pretty common too. All totally unafraid of the beachgoers too! Reddish Egret and Tricoloured Herons showed well in the mangrove channel on the way back as well. Some roadside Black and Turkey Vultures were also good value, though they did stink a bit.
Great Blue Heron Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Snowy Plover Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Double-crested Cormorant Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Royal Tern Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Bonaparte's Gull Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
Black Vulture Lovers Key, Florida 15th Feb 2016
A visit to a shopping mall late afternoon was a surprise in the birding stakes, with a small area of pools providing Glossy Ibises, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron and Common Gallinules as well as some decent Roseate Spoonbills and Little Blue Herons; just a shame the light was going when I discovered it! Getting back to Cape Coral at dusk meant that one of its resident Burrowing Owls was active. This one was perched on the roadside by Pelican Boulevard and SW 47th Street.
Burrowing Owl Cape Coral, Florida 15th Feb 2016


  1. Looked a bit out of place tearing up the snails by the side of a busy city road. That hooked upper mandible is immense.