After a succesful day of birding at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, we decided to try our luck a little closer to Orlando. This area is located roughly 1 hour south of Orlando and is a mix of riparian woods, fields, marshes and lakes. We had major goals of Limpkin, Snail Kite, Scrub Jay and Red-Cockcaded Woodpecker, all of which can be found in the area.
This park is obviously popular with boaters and fishermen (no doubt the Largemouth Bass are HUGE in those warm shallow lakes). We arrived in late morning, not the best time for birding and proceeded down to the Jackson Lake overlook. We drove slow, but found very little. Once at the over look the 1st bird we saw was a very bold Limpkin strutting around the parking area.
Osprey, Turkey and Black Vultures and Red-shouldered Hawk were constantly flying over our heads. A careful look around, we spotted several more Limpkins, as well as some American Coot and Common Moorhen. Yellow-rumped and Northern Parula Warblers were busy calling, flitting in the singing in the nearby trees.
As we headed out, I caught a glimpse of Common Ground Dove and we met some huge flocks of American Robins and Yellow-Rumped Warblers. A Pileated Woodpecker was a bit of a surprise and a White-eyed Vireo made an appearance and gave good looks for Danika for who it was a life bird. We also spotted a few Black-and-White Warblers.
Our next goal was some of the more “upland” birds. But luck was not with us. We did find a group of about 30 vultures which had found something (out of sight thank goodness) to munch on. It was fascinating to watch and listen to vultures fight over food. We also met a nice local, who could have won the “Red-Neck” of the year award. It’s a good thing we didn’t find his truck parked anywhere. Danika wanted to hide a stinky diaper.
We headed into the open pine forests, our hopes dashed at Scrub Jay… but high for RC Woodpecker. Pine Warblers became abundant and Sparrows flitted every-so-briefly out of the ground cover, but none sat long enough to ID. We saw many trees with white paint, which they use to mark the RC Woodpeckers trees, but despite a lot of searching, we saw nothing. By the time we made it to the end of the road, it was late and the kids had become somewhat rebellious, so a second search was called off. I was disappointed to say the least.
However, 2 Sandhill Cranes kept us company at the exit of the park. Behind them you can see the open pine woods favored by Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.