Monday, December 8, 2008

Florida Trip - Day 4

Monday, December 8, 2008

At sunrise we were entering St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and for the first time on the trip we encountered a more than a few waterbirds. We headed straight for the lighthouse to scan the Gulf of Mexico and saw some loons and grebes, as well as Oystercatchers and Brown Pelicans. It was surprising when a small group of American Goldfinches turned up with a Pine Siskin among them. This species is not on the bird checklist that is available here. Another siskin was at the Tower Trail restrooms, again with a group of goldfinches. More typical of Florida, we saw several American Anhingas (photo below) in the early morning cold (started at 32 degrees again today).

Many more familiar waterbirds were seen, including Lesser Scaup, Redheads, Canvasbacks, American Wigeons, Hooded Mergansers, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, and quite a few Belted Kingfishers, like the one below.

Heading east, we stopped at the Goethe State Forest to check the Longleaf Pine woodlands for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. We found the woodpecker nest trees, visible in the photo below marked by a white band near the base, but no woodpeckers. The nuthatches were more cooperative and allowed me to get sound recordings of their vocalizations.

And finally, a most interesting encounter. We encountered a baby of the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker, as seen in the photo below.

Those familiar with James Tanner's study of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker from the 1930s will recognize my imitation of a photo in his book where he had two fledglings in his hat. This cute toy, which also gives accurate calls when squeezed, was available for sale at the St. Marks NWR gift shop. We stopped in Bayonet Point, Florida, for the night.

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