Sunday, December 18, 2016

Harns Marsh 12/12--Wood Stork, GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN, Limpkin

For the month before we left, I'd been monitoring the rare bird alerts in Lee & Collier Counties. There were only two rarities of note turning up, but both would be life birds for Shari & me. One of them was at Harns Marsh, a water management facility in eastern Lee County that is one of my favorite spots to bird, and THE place to get both Snail Kite (though we already had that one in Trinidad, Mike hadn't seen one yet this year) and Limpkin, as well as other fun birds like Cattle Egret (Trinidad again) and Sandhill Crane (New Egypt, NJ). Mike, despite a number of trips to the area had never been to Harns Marsh, nor had our friends Karmela & Sue who were down in the area, so we all gathered there at the dirt parking lot and began to bird. It wasn't a moment before we had our Limpkin, a bird that is the only representative of it family and falls between two (or three) stools, being neither a coot, a rail or a crane, though it resembles them superficially.

Photo: Shari Zirlin
There was almost too much there to look at. A Wood Stork flew overhead as we were coming down the road and the ponds were full of coots, gallinules, and Ring-necked Ducks, with Cattle Egret walking the edge, as well as most of the egrets and herons. But the big attraction was perhaps a quarter down the road, skulking in the reeds, 3 (or more) GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHENS, an introduced rail that survived an extirpation campaign and had its name changed from Purple Swamphen (happily, as it is often confused with somewhat similar Purple Gallinule). Doing some cursory research on the bird (a Eurasian species) I found that Purple Swamphen was now a "super-species" with 4 species underneath it, one them being Gray-headed. How that differs from sub-species I don't really understand. All I know is that it is a cool bird and while fairly regular on the east coast of Florida, the only place it is found on the western side of the state is Harns Marsh.

There was one chick with 3 swamphens that some in our group saw but I managed to miss, However, knowing that the bird was breeding makes it a legit sighting, in my eyes, introduced or not.

It was hot at Harns (no complaints here) and there is no shade, so we didn't walk the entire trail but just far enough down it to get decent looks at a couple of Sandhill Cranes that were very cooperative for Sue & Karmela who did trek down there.

Our original plan was to bird a couple of places on the way back to Sanibel, but Karmela said that at a WMA not far north of Harns there were a couple of birds that would be lifers for Shari & me and one of them would be for Mike, so we called an audible, put the address into an iPhone and headed up there, but not before a stop at a lifer Wawa in Fort Myers! After drinking the brown water that our hotel called coffee it was real pleasure to get Wawa coffee. We bought lunch there and at it al fresco at the store's outside dining area, an amenity that the northern Wawa's don't have.
Wawa #5200, Fort Myers
34 species
Ring-necked Duck  15
Pied-billed Grebe  10
Wood Stork  4
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Anhinga  10
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  2
Little Blue Heron  5
Tricolored Heron  3
Cattle Egret  5
White Ibis  5
Glossy Ibis  3
Black Vulture  50
Turkey Vulture  50
Osprey  2
Snail Kite  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Common Gallinule  20
American Coot  25
Limpkin  4
Sandhill Crane  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  1
Tree Swallow  5
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird  2     Heard
Palm Warbler  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  20
American Goldfinch  1     Heard

No comments:

Post a Comment