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Thursday, December 26, 2013

County Listing and Work Birding

As I often do, I engaged in a little county listing on the way to work this morning.  I hit one of my favorite spots, what I call the "Teal Pond" on accounta it has a lot of teal in most winters.  The pond is located along CR 721 in Highlands County between US 98 and SR 70.  This area is "reclaimed" floodplain, formerly part of the Kissimmee River.  It is used today as ranch land for cattle and farm land for various crops.  There are several ponds in the pasture areas and these are frequented by many ducks, shorebirds, and wading birds throughout the year.  In spring, Florida's dry season, the ponds dry up, except for the Teal Pond.  I'm not sure if the farmers have drilled a well into the aquifer to assure constant water or if there is indeed a natural artesian flow into the pond.  I have not seen it dry up completely, that I can remember.  I often take a slightly longer route from Fellsmere to Clewiston, so I can stop at this spot along the way.  It has produced many a county bird for Highlands in the past, so many that the prospect of getting more is getting pretty low.   Yet, I still come to this spot just to see who's hanging out.  It is within BBA Block Fort Basinger - 6, so I spent some extra time in the area this spring when many an oddball was hanging out in this, the last of the wet ponds.  Two Great white herons (considered a white morph of Great blue heron) were very odd for an inland location.  Although they are becoming somewhat regular inland in small numbers, in recent years.  This afternoon, I spied a decent assortment of shorebirds including four American avocets.  There has been one here on the previous two visits, but this time it had some friends.  Shorebird numbers vary dramatically in the early part of the winter when they fly around to various wet ponds around the area.  Other shorebirds were the usual Least sandpipers and Long-billed dowitchers along with slightly less usual Stilt sandpipers (4).  I did not see any Dunlin, although they are sometimes here.  There were teal, of course, but not in great numbers.  A total of 44 species present in a 20 minute stop, about average I would say, but always a different mix of species.  Sometime I will check to see the total from this stop over the years, and see which species are most frequent.  I am getting enough eBird checklists to see some at least some crude trends.

Work birding was boring, as usual.  I did get surprised by two fly by Gadwall, a county tick for Glades (#205).

Tomorrow, I will head out early and likely hit the same spot, and a pond further up where I hope to finally add Virginia rail to my Highlands list, before making final preparations for the South Brevard CBC on Saturday.

eBird Checklist Teal Pond

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