Monday, November 12, 2007

Panama City Beach # 4 - Annotated List (3)

Before I continue the list, I forgot in a previous post to mention my search for the Northern Bobwhite. My dad and I went a ways out of the city one morning to a hunting range we noticed nearby on the way down that had pictures of Bobwhites posted next to 'No Trespassing' signs and a shooting range. As soon as I stepped out of the van, gunshots rang out close by and I nearly had a heart attack before we even started. We went to the main buildings and I (nervously) asked one of the hunters if they see Bobwhites occasionally near the range. He told me that habitat destruction and alteration in the area had brought their numbers down significantly and that he had only seen a single bird this year running across the road near the range. They don't hunt any birds at the shooting range, it's just for skeet shooting. Not exactly the best news. We searched for a couple of hours but didn't come up with much, seeing as they're already secretive birds as it is. Florida birds are much darker with a darker head pattern and black extending down to the breast.

*Loggerhead Shrike - An easy-to-find lifer. At the golf course I visited daily, I saw the same Loggerhead Shrike each time calling and flying from hydro wires to trees hunting. I could definitely see the darker back compared to the Northern Shrike and also the thicker black mask. I found another bird at St. Andrews State Park.

White-eyed Vireo - A single bird at Apalachicola National Forest. This protected area was great for passerines and there was a lot of bird activity wherever we stopped to look for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Apparently, White-eyed Vireo can be found in the state year-round.

Blue Jay - I saw many birds during the trip and they are a year-round permanent resident.

American Crow - same as above.

Fish Crow - To be safe, I didn't try to identify crows unless they called so fortunately I heard some Fish Crows. They are smaller, have more pointed, swept-back wings, and a longer tail but these attributes are hard to judge in the field.

Tree Swallow - quite a few birds. The only common swallow species in the fall.

Carolina Chickadee - These are a great treat for anyone visiting the south. They're very similar to our Black-capped Chickadee (which does not occur in Florida) but smaller, grayer, and undeniably cuter. Their song is also faster than their northern counterpart. I had Carolina Chickadees in every woodlot I visited.

White-breasted Nuthatch - At the same location that I had Brown-headed Nuthatch for the first time, I also had one White-breasted mixed in. This species is not as common in the Panhandle so I was happy to see one there.

*Brown-headed Nuthatch - A very easy lifer. My second day in Panama City Beach, I found the Wal-Mart pond and had 2 Brown-headed Nuthatches, which respond to pishing. This was one of my target species as I should have easily got in on my first two trips to Florida (although those times, I was much more focused on waders and ocean species than any woodland passerines).

Carolina Wren - A few singing across the city as well as inside St. Andrews State Park in marshy areas. Many times when I would start pishing, a Carolina Wren would pop up.

House Wren - a few birds within woodlots as well as along the dunes next to the beaches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - various locations including St. Andrews, Apalachicola, and a few scattered woodlots in the city.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - only a few birds near the end of the trip.

Eastern Bluebird - I couldn't get over the number of bluebirds we saw at Apalachicola. Flocks of 10-20 birds were commonplace and they flew over quite frequently. I've never had such high numbers of this species, although Marianne and I did get a group of about 6 birds at Delaurier Trail in Pelee before I left for Florida. At High Park, you can find them quite easily right now near Hawk Hill and surrounding area.

Swainson's Thrush - A very peculiar sighting, I saw a single bird while on a walk with my mom along the main road through Panama City Beach. This species is listed as casual during the fall but I was never able to ask anyone how rare the species is during November.

Hermit Thrush - a couple of birds in St. Andrews State Park.

American Robin - listed as an irruptive visitor, I saw only a few in the state.

Gray Catbird - one of the most common species. I saw almost too many of this species no matter where I was or what time it was. Seemingly as common as Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird - Abundant. Every morning you can hear a mockingbird outside your window and no matter where you walk in the city, you can count on seeing and hearing a mockingbird. I don't mind because I love their imitations and flashing wing pattern.

Brown Thrasher - a few birds during the trip at Apalachicola as well as in scattered woodlots in the city that have not been developed into condos yet.

European Starling - the most abundant bird during the trip. I saw thousands of starlings every day. You can't look at a hydro wire without seeing a flock of at least 10+ starlings. This opportunistic species is certainly successful, especially because they can coexist with humans so well in an urban setting.

Orange-crowned Warbler - a single bird at the Wal-Mart pond.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - a common migrant, I saw many during the week at various locations (with the largest numbers at Apalachicola).

Pine Warbler - the most abundant warbler, which was a great experience considering its uncommon status at Point Pelee. At Apalachicola in the early morning, we had large flocks of them in various locations.

Palm Warbler - within flocks of Pine Warblers, there were a few Palms mixed in along with Yellow-rumped.

Well, I’ll end it there, but there should only be one more post on my Panama City Beach annotated list. I apologize if this is a dry read, but it’s as much for my records as it is for posting on my blog.


Peleechickadee said...

I'm still jealous Jeremy. Here's a better photo of a Brown-headed Nuthatch


Jeremy Hatt said...

Ohhhh man, what a great photo of the Brown-headed Nuthatch! I'm adding this site to my recommended sites on my blog right now. Thanks for the pic!