Corbett WMA birding trip

My birding pal and I are still trying to find Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers (RCWs). They are being reintroduced in two adjoining wildlife management areas in this part of the state, Dupuis and J.W. Corbett. We went to Dupuis a few months ago, and today we tried Corbett, located in northern Palm Beach County. We had a vague idea of where the reintroduction area was, but it took a couple of attempts to find it.

Along the road we spotted a Large White Bird Festival, Great Egrets and Wood Storks mostly. My friend saw some herons, too.

Bird Festival

Some storks rushing to join the festival.

Wood Storks in flight

We also saw this distant raptor. We thought it might be a juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk, but now I’m not sure. Suggestions welcome!

Unknown raptor

Here’s a new bird for me, a Great Crested Flycatcher. I was sure it was some kind of warbler, but my friend found it in the field guide. I know, this picture is fuzzy. You were expecting maybe National Geographic?

Great Crested Flycatcher

After being mooned by the Flycatcher it was nice to meet a polite grasshopper.

Grasshopper

Larger photo on my gallery.

You’re probably wondering, where are the RCWs? Good question. Our first attempt to find them put us too far north of the site, so we walked a couple of miles in the heat, on a soft-sandy road, to no avail. It was too hot to enjoy the walk. After driving a few miles farther south we tried again. This time I found the metal bands on the trees (to keep snakes from crawling up to the nests). Unfortunately, there were no signs of RCWs. I spotted a beak pointing out of one cavity and thought I’d finally found one, but it turned out to be this Red-Bellied Woodpecker, looking like I’d rousted her from a nap.

Red Bellied Woodpecker

After she got tidied up a bit she posed for another photo.

Red Bellied Woodpecker

The RCW area showed no signs of RCWs. No sap wells around the cavities of the three trees we saw. There’s another, more-isolated area in Corbett, but too far to walk in this heat.

Time to ‘fess up. Even though I had my compass, I got turned around leaving the RCW area, and started leading us the wrong way on the trail. My friend soon insisted it was the wrong way, and now the compass agreed. I blame it on the heat. Not to worry, though, if we’d expired out on the trail, the clean-up crew was standing by.

Black Vultures

Here’s a huge footprint left by a Great Egret or Great Blue Heron. Compare its size to the raccoon tracks next to it.

Bird Track

In a quickly evaporating puddle next to the footprint, new life was forming. Here’s an example.

Southern Leopard Frog

I guess the birds and raccoons are trying to control the frog population. There’s a larger photo of the frog on my gallery. It’s a Southern Leopard Frog, Rana ultricularia.

As we were getting ready to leave we spotted what at first we thought was a Brown-headed Cowbird near a canal.

Shiny Cowbird

Cowbirds are ignored by most birders, but I’ll look at any bird. It pays to look closely at every bird. Reviewing the photos against my Sibley’s field guide, I am now sure this is a female Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis), rarely seen in South Florida, although they have been moving up here for more than a century. Here’s another photo.

Shiny Cowbird

Moving in for a closer look at the cowbird, we also spotted the one animal without which no Florida birding trip would be complete.

Alligator

It saw us, too, and must have thought we looked tasty, because it moved in for a closer look.

Alligator

I like to study animals. I do not like it when the carnivorous ones study me! Larger photos of this handsome killer on my gallery.

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