This week in Ft. Myers

24inchTrout I took a vacation day on Tuesday and went fishing with a friend from church. Thanks for a great time Bob!

Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve East

String Lily
String Lily (Crinum americanum)

This preserve is within walking  distance of where we live. Preserve web page. For almost 2 years now I have been a volunteer there 1 or 2 hours a month doing bird counts.

It is getting hot down here and our winter birds are gone but Saturday in the preserve there was a nice collection of herons, egrets and wildflowers.

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Saltmarsh Morning Glory (Ipomea sagittata)

Birds were too far away for my old point and shoot but some of the flowers were String Lily (Crinum americanum), Saltmarsh Morning Glory (Ipomea sagittata), and Virgina Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos).

Virginia Saltmarsh Mallow
Virgina Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos)

Cardinal Nest at the Farm

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This week we are at the Hargrave homestead near LaCrosse for Father’s Day. Sitting in the TV room with my dad we noticed a Cardinal fly into the camellia bush just outside the window. I wondered if she might be there for more than just a casual visit and when we looked more closely discovered the nest. It must be hot enough during the day that she doesn’t have to sit on the eggs so I snapped this picture without disturbing the bush while she was away.

Last week at Hickey’s creek I found 4 Florida Scrub Jays on the Palmetto Pines loop just after the turn south to return. The literature mentions that they will post sentinels to keep a lookout for predators. Sure enough one sounded the alarm and I looked up to see a Swallow-tail Kite overhead; really not a danger to the Jays, but alarming nonetheless.

Tarflower (actually in Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve)
Tarflower (actually in Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve)

Also noted at Hickey’s Creek were blooming Tarflowers (Bejaria racemosa) —http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Tarflower/tarflowe.htm

Back to Kenya

Ellen and I are planning on being in Kenya from mid-August through November this year. We will be on staff at the Africa Inland Church (AIC) Missionary College in Eldoret and I will spend some of my time working on the creation of an ECHO East African Regional Office. We’ll try to keep you up to date.

Summer Birding

It is after mid-May in southwest Florida and a general depression has descended on some birders. The daily frantic and expectant searching for new warblers passing through has tailed off, the days are getting hot and sometimes it seems like the only birds around are grackles and house sparrows.

But a quick check in a field guide reveals that some gaps in the year list can be filled by birds only found here in summer. My personal favorite is the graceful Swallow-tailed Kite. I can lose track of time watching one quarter a field, wheeling, soaring, dipping and turning with apparently effortless ease. The first sighting reported for Lee County in e-bird this year was February 18th. I saw my first of the season in early March.

So what else should I find here in only in the summer?

  • Yellow-billed cuckoo — Reported in the county (on April 17th this year) but I’ve only seen it on the family farm up near Gainesville.
  • Common Nighthawk — The “Bull Bat” of my childhood. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot once the insect population explodes! Earliest arrival this year recorded on April 10th.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird — First record on March 29th. I usually see an individual or two when the red flowers are in bloom around the house and work.
  • Gray Kingbird — Reported April 4th. I saw two today driving back from lunch.
  • Purple Martin — This year reported on Feb. 1. There are some Martin houses at Franklin Locks; maybe tomorrow.
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow — well, they get reported most of the year, I just need to get out and find them.
  • Chimney Swift — March 16th and I’m starting to see them regularly.
  • Summer Tanager — Someone reported one right near where I live on March 2nd. I have only seen it at the farm.

So there is some birding to look forward to. The strategy is to get up early and bird before the day gets too hot to enjoy!