Yesterday I decided to see how many different species of birds I could photograph in one day in Palm Beach County. I hadn’t done a really long day of birding in a while and I was motivated to get out and try my new lens in a real world situation. I’ve done a couple of “Big Days” before but never one where I decided to only count species that I captured on disk . I’ve been reading quite a bit about Photo Big Days on the ABA web site and I decided why not!
I started my day bright and early out at STA 1 East just west of Wellington. I rode my bike on a 12 mile loop and was stoked to see some really nice species including the above Wood Ducks. I had one very obliging Peregrine Falcon, of which I saw 4-5 on the day. I was happy to pick up my FOS (first of the season) Palm Warbler. Snail Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, Black-necked Stilts and all/most of the regular waders were all also picked up at STA 1.
I left STA 1 and headed further West stopping along State Road 880 where I found a flooded sod farm that contained both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Pectoral Sandpipers. I also photographed an Eastern Meadowlark and a Caspian Tern near by. I wish I had another lens to give you a feel of just how many Yellowlegs were in this field … a rough guess would be 600-700!
I next left for Browns Farm Road and was happy to see a couple of more nice species including my FOS Northern Harriers, Barn Owls, a Merlin, White Pelicans and coolest of all 1,000’s of Bobolinks. The Bobolinks were constantly moving about as the Harriers and a Peregrine swooped down on them. The following pictures are just a very, very small sampling of the multiple large flocks.
Heading back East I saw and photographed my only Bald Eagle of the day and stopped on 880 at a spot with some trees where I got Praire Warbler and Blue Gray Gnatcatcher.
My next stop was at Snook Island where I hoped to pick up a few more shorebirds. Unfortunately it was very high tide and even though I got pictures of all of the following all were from literally a mile away. I captured Marbled Godwit, Willets, Spotted, Western and Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones and the continuing Oystercatcher family.
When I first got to Snook Island I saw Linda and Dave who alerted me to a Royal Poncietta tree that was a couple hundred yards from the parking lot. The tree had hundreds of caterpillars that a group of Warblers and Cuckoos were happily dining on. There were a couple of Magnolias and Redstarts. A Black and White and Yellow-throated Warbler made up what I got on camera. Linda and a few others had seen a Prothonotary, Worm-eating and Yellow Warbler before I arrived.
It was now about 1pm and I heard a rumble of thunder in the distance. The forecast had called for thunderstorms in the afternoon and I was hoping they would hold off for a little longer. I headed down to the Boynton Beach Inlet and squeaked out another 4 species including this wonderful Common Tern.
I only spent an hour or so as the sky’s were looking pretty scary and I still wanted to hit Green Cay to pick up a few more easy species … so off I went.
As I was walking around the boardwalk at Green Cay I realized I hadn’t had enough water throughout the day. I was starting to wear out really quickly and I missed some really easy species that I see almost every day including Purple Swamphen, Sora, Brown Thrasher and Painted Bunting … all of which I saw this morning.
I managed to photograph 79 species and I’m sure with better planning and staying hydrated I could have added another dozen or so. I only saw a handful of species that I didn’t get pictures of including King Rail. I also forgot to take a picture of a Tri-color Heron of which I saw 25 or more of at STA 1. I saw dozens of Swamphens at the STA but didn’t bother to try getting a shot because the ones at GC have been visible every time I’ve been out there recently.
If I hadn’t pooped out I could have picked up a couple of species more at Loxahatchee and I should have stopped at Peaceful Waters on my way in from out West for a few more. I’ll guess I’ll just have to try again sometime!!! It was a really fun day and I’m happy with the way the lens performed.
Thanks for following and God Bless!