Saturday, November 10, 2007

Panama City Beach # 2 - Annotated List (1)

Here it is, the first post of my annotated list for my trip to Florida. All species were observed within the state. New species (just 4) have a star.

Gadwall - only a single bird. Strangely enough, this male bird was part of a trio of males consisting of Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, and a Redhead. I don't think I've ever seen this combination together. The three were mixed in with a large group of American Coots in a marshy area behind a Wal-Mart Supercenter (a disturbing example of how much that store has taken over).

Redhead - see Gadwall

Ring-necked Duck - see Gadwall

- surprisingly enough, I didn't get any other duck species, but this is probably due to the fact that I was in a highly developed urban area. There are local populations of feral Muscovy Ducks and Mallards in the Panhandle (more common in the Peninsula) but I couldn't find any at golf courses or ponds within or outside the city. I did not see any waterfowl on the Gulf of Mexico.

Wild Turkey - although I have already counted the resident Point Pelee Wild Turkeys towards my life list, it was nice to see 2 large groups of about 10-20 birds in their natural range (versus reintroduction programs). Both groups were roadside birds that I wasn't able to observe for long because we were trying to get to Panama City Beach as soon as possible.

Common Loon - a single nonbreeding bird quite far out on the ocean diving.

Pied-billed Grebe - a few sightings, mostly in urban ponds and at St. Andrews State Park. 2 birds, probably residents were easily located daily in a pond at a golf course near our hotel.

- unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate any Northern Gannets during the trip.

Brown Pelican - the second-most common ocean species after Laughing Gull. During the entire week (and all times of day), flocks of 5-10 pelicans, nonbreeding adults and juveniles, were flying east and west along the beach. Although I saw hundreds, the huge wingspan of this species never failed to impress.

Double-crested Cormorant - common. Large numbers near the Gulf of Mexico and at St. Andrews State Park (within a saltwater bay).

Great Blue Heron - the most common wader.

Great Egret - also very common but mostly seen flying.

Little Blue Heron - a single bird flying over a small pond within the suburban areas of Panama City Beach. Its overall dark appearance was distinctive.

Cattle Egret - 2 birds; one flying over the Wal-Mart marsh, another seemingly injured bird at roadside right in the city, dodging cars and walking in a parking lot.

Green Heron - a single bird in the Wal-Mart marsh, which was surprisingly large. I don't know who owned the land but I hope it is kept intact because it's a small oasis surrounded by big businesses.

Black Vulture - a few birds. I got a very good look at a flying bird at Apalachicola National Forest. Their shape and wing pattern are quite distinctive from Turkey Vultures in the right conditions. The short, square tail is quite easy to see in flight.

Turkey Vulture - huge numbers of migrating TV's were flying along oceanside while I was there with the rare Black mixed in. In fact, Turkey Vulture was my first Florida bird for this trip and we saw thousands on the drive down.

Osprey - a few birds flying over, possibly residents.

Sharp-shinned Hawk - 2 birds migrating.

Cooper's Hawk - a single bird circling and hunting over the Wal-Mart marsh (this again shows how important these tiny areas of natural land are, even though they are under severe threat of development).

Red-shouldered Hawk - Florida's most widespread diurnal raptor and an easy find (a few were even calling). I had perched birds and flying birds, all of the Eastern subspecies. The Florida subspecies must be more abundant in the peninsula.

Red-tailed Hawk - a few birds.

American Kestrel - quite common, I found around 5 or 6 birds in total. Most were outside of the city.

Merlin - a single bird riding the thermals over the golf course I birded at quite frequently. It shared a thermal with Turkey Vultures and a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Peregrine Falcon - 2 flying over Panama City Beach east to west.

- unfortunately, I didn't see any rails but I may have hard a Clapper or King but it did not call long enough for me to get an I.D. I also kicked myself for not listening to my tapes beforehand so when I heard the bird I froze up. Ah well, we learn from our mistakes.

Common Moorhen - only a single bird that was also within the Wal-Mart marsh along with the Coots.

American Coot - abundant and easily found in any ponds or marshes in the area. The most abundant marsh bird on the trip.

Killdeer - more often heard than seen. Not easy to find in the urban areas.

Ruddy Turstone - my Dad's favourite bird and he was able to see it as well. I saw one nonbreeding individual on the beach, hanging out at a spot where warm water was draining into the ocean from an unknown source.

Sanderling - 3 birds total along the beach together. I love to watch these guys avoid the waves. They're really like wind-up toys.

- once again, finding shorebirds shouldn't have been a problem, but I could not find a single place with the proper habitat because there is so much development in the area.

Well, I'll stop here for now because my eyes are starting to hurt from the computer screen. Obviously more to come because I haven't even got to the passerines yet!

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