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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last day of 2013

With a few hours birding time today, I decided to spend at least some of the time at Smyrna Dunes Park in New Smyrna Beach.  The Snowy owl on Little Talbot Island had gone AWOL (later discovered further north on the same island), and I figured either it or another one might be at a place like Smyrna Dunes.  Much of the park is old dredge spoil which is sparsely vegetated.  It is perfect habitat for Snow buntings, Lapland longspurs, (several sightings of both in Florida this year) and Horned lark; species quite common on the shores and fields of the northeastern U.S. but quite the delight when they show in our state.  Snowy owl would be quite at home here as well, and very visible since there is little place to hide.  I would be disappointed to find Lapland longspur here since I already have that one in Volusia County.  I got my first one at Lighthouse Point Park, right across the inlet from here on a CBC in the late 1980's.  The tide was high, and rising, so Disappearing Island had nearly disappeared.  Shorebirds, gulls, and terns are hard to find when they don't have exposed mud flats to rest their feet.  I did manage a few species.  Three Purple sandpipers were huddled on the north side of the inlet among ca 50 Ruddy turnstones.  Purple sandpipers are somewhat rare in Florida, but occur on rock jetties as far south as Ponce Inlet every year and occasionally on similar habitat further south.  I got one on my first visit to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, and never again.

No owls visible, and I checked all the boardwalks, spur trails, dunes, and even the tops of the condos south of the park, to no avail.  I decided to point the truck toward home.

I stopped at the Click Ponds in Viera and found 49 species in 48 minutes, mostly in the south pond.  Water levels have risen some in the north pond since last week and there are not as many birds.  Green-winged teal continue to rule the duck world and Least sandpipers the shorebird world.  Stilt sandpipers and a single Western sandpiper were still present.  As long as water levels remain low, these birds will likely be there all winter.

Now, it is on to non-bird things and thoughts of next year.

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