Oh yes, Florida! An Easter visit where I was able to hit all the usual places and take a good walk at one I hadn't visited for a while.
First up was Venice Rookery where I connected with some typical Floridian birds but also 3 flyover Swallow-Tailed Kite. Among the 6 Great Blue Heron I saw was one on the grass at the water's edge and which did not budge when approached. I assume it was sick or injured, and ominously an Alligator, my first at this site, was lurking in the water nearby, I assume eyeing up the potential for a meal come nightfall!
I swung by Bowdoin Road Pond on the way home and saw Black-Bellied Whistling Duck and a Tricoloured Heron.
Next day was the 'good walk' at Celery Fields, a reserve that has really developed since I first visited a few years ago. Immediately I arrived I saw the Purple Martin (22) using the nest boxes, and after hiking to the top of the hill I saw 2 PILEATED WOODPECKER flying past and away towards the big cat park - a life tick! The good times continued with Lesser Scaup (6), Solitary Sandpiper (3) on the reservoir and a pair of fighting Limpkin on the grass banks.
As I worked my way around I looked back to see Cattle Egret (15) on the hillside and a Least Tern over the central pond, along with a few Alligator. Across Fruitville Road, at the Alligator Pond, I saw a life-tick PURPLE GALLINULE foraging at the shore, identified by large size and white side bar. As I neared the car park, and the end of the walk, I saw Loggerhead Shrike (4) and Red-Shouldered Hawk (2).
A couple days later I was at Shamrock Park for Florida Scrub-Jay (2), and a few days after that I was with the family at Siesta Key Public Beach for Nanday Parakeet (2), Brown Pelican (20), Royal Tern (10) and a Black Skimmer among others.
The final birding day of the holiday took me back to Venice Rookery with the kids to see if the alligator was still visible, but it, and the heron were not, however a Sandhill Crane did fly in for a site tick.
After that a family boat trip around Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve was a treat where we saw Common Dolphin at Grove City and a good selection of sea and shorebirds including Sandwich Tern (2), Forster's Tern (1) and Great White Egret (10) on Rookery Island.
Another awesome trip to Florida, I'm counting down the days until the next one!
Tuesday 3rd, Venice Rookery, Sarasota County, FL, USA.
Tuesday 3rd, Bowdoin Road Pond, Sarasota County, FL, USA.
Wednesday 4th, Celery Fields, Sarasota County, FL, USA.
Friday 6th, Shamrock Park, Sarasota County, FL, USA.
Monday 9th, Siesta Key Public Beach, FL, USA.
Thursday 12th, Venice Rookery, Sarasota County, FL, USA.
Thursday 12th, Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve, Charlotte County, FL, USA.