Monday, March 30, 2015

Travel Birding

South Hamilton, MA
White-breasted Nuthach
Here in Florida we have 67 counties.  One day I'd love to visit every one of those counties to do some birding. Right now in my stage of life, I do not have many opportunities to do much about that, though. My job and family keep me pretty close to home.  When I go places on a Saturday, I can rarely drive more than 2 hours away, and with a state as large as Florida, that's a pretty small percentage of the state.

Wekiwa Springs SP
Yellow-throated Vireo
This past weekend I had to travel to Dothan, AL for a conference.  It's almost a 400 mile drive, and most of it is in the State of Florida.  So I decided to do some travel birding.  I stopped in most every county where I had no eBird checklists, mostly at rest areas along I-75 and I-10.  I only stayed each for an average of 15-20 minutes, but it was enough for me to log a few species for each county I traveled through.  I also visited three State Parks.  I visited Suwannee River State Park (Suwannee County) on the way up, and I visited Florida Caverns State Park (Jackson County) and Alfred B. Maclay Gardens SP (Leon County) on the way home.  I spent most of my time along I-10 hoping to get some lingering birds that winter in northern Florida but not in Central Florida.

Econ River WA
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
I found this quite enjoyable. Not only did this break up the monotony of driving and give me little bits of rest, but I totaled 66 species (including both the drive up and back) in the State of Florida, and I found two birds I've never seen in Florida before (Broad-winged Hawk and White-breasted Nuthatch), and I added two more to my Florida year list (Hooded Warbler and Canada Goose).

Lori Wilson Park
Black-and-white Warbler
It was also fun to add checklists for 9 Florida Counties, and in 6 of these counties (Jackson, Gadston, Jefferson, Madison, Columbia, Marion) I had never submitted a checklist. What I found most surprising is how productive rest areas can be.  I guess that makes sense, though, since most of those I stopped at were somewhat natural looking with a lot of trees.  My favorite rest area stop was along I-10 in Jefferson County.  I stepped out of my car to hear two Yellow-throated Vireos singing.  Then came the chatter of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  Then I began to notice 6 species of warbler: Black-and-white, Orange-crowned, Northern Parula, Palm, Yellow-throated and Prairie Warbler. These were all in about 3-4 trees between my car and the restrooms.  A little ways away there were also several Chipping Sparrows about.  Not a bad rest area, if you ask me.

Central Winds Park
Orange-crowned Warbler
Full Disclosure: I was hoping to take pictures along the way up and back, but I was unable to do so. My car was broken into and all my camera equipment was stolen.  So I made the trip without a camera. Hopefully that will be resolved soon.  The photos I have included here are of birds I've photographed at other times and places.

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Prairie Warbler

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with sorting out your camera equipment. It sounds a pleasant way to break up a journey.