THE MONTH IN REVIEW – JULY 2014
The drake Ring-necked Duck found in the pond across from Pinellas Park High School in late May made it through the summer months and was still being seen there thru at least July 24th (W.Meehan & B.Jenks). Magnificent Frigatebirds arrived in force by July with 120 over the Tierra Verde ponds on the 22nd (E.Plage) and, surely, more will be present in the area over the next month or so. A juvenile Brown Booby was at Clearwater Beach July 13th (M.Daw), but not seen on subsequent days.
A great count of 25 Swallow-tailed Kites was seen circling over Palm Harbor July 4th (B.Walker). Shorebird highlights were as follows -- Fifty-five American Avocets were photographed flying south over Lake Seminole July 13th (E & S Tess) and a lone individual was photo’d at Gandy Beach on the 28th (C.Cox, L.Deaner); four Piping Plovers were at Fort De Soto Park July 18th (D.Sauvageau, ph.) with six there on the 28th (C.Ahern); seven Piping’s were at Three Rooker and seven more were at Caladesi Island, both July 23rd (D.Sauvageau, ph.); a Greater Yellowlegs was at the County Dump Lake July 13th (J.Clayton, ph.); 150 Willets at Fort De Soto July 13th (D.Margeson), a Whimbrel at Fort De Soto July 13th (Margeson); and 65 Marbled Godwits at Fort De Soto Jul 12-13 (Margeson & P.Plage).
Gull and tern highlights included two Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Indian Shores July 19th (C.Cox & L.Deaner), an adult Great Black-backed Gull returned again to Treasure Island during the month of July, 4-24 (S.Janes), 320 Least Terns at Gandy Beach July 20th (P.Plage), two adult Gull-billed Terns at Gandy Beach July 2nd (R.Smith, ph.), approximately 100 Black Terns at Gandy Beach July 21st thru the following week (J.Clayton, ph., et al.) and ten Common Terns at Caladesi’s north end July 23rd (D.Sauvageau).
A juvenile Yellow-billed Cuckoo was a surprise for Clayton in her yard July 27th. The earliest Belted Kingfisher was a female at Sawgrass Lake Park July 18-24 (J.Clayton, ph.). Out-of-place was a Northern Flicker at Fort De Soto July 20th (M.Burns) and also at the park on July 26th was an Eastern Kingbird (S.Tavaglione, ph.). A family group of four Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were far south at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve July 5th (J.Clayton et al.).
A Prothonotary Warbler was photographed at Sawgrass Lake Park July 18th (J.Clayton) as were three Black-and-white Warblers (J.Clayton & S.Tavaglione). Two American Redstarts were at a north St. Petersburg yard July 30th (J.Clayton). The earliest reported Yellow Warbler was also at Sawgrass Lake, July 12th, and seen by J.Clayton. Two fledgling Prairie Warblers were observed chasing around their parents at Tierra Verde on the late date of July 28th (E.Plage).
Birding can be tough in August with high temperatures and high humidy the norm. Get out early and watch for migrant landbirds – such as Ovenbird, Yellow Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Cerulean Warbler. Blackburnian Warbler, American Redstart and maybe even something more delicious like a Black-billed Cuckoo or Olive-sided Flycatcher. August is also a time when tropical storms are prevalent altering migration patterns of shorebirds. Check them all closely for Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Upland Sandpiper. Swallows are on the move, too, and though Barns and Northern Rough-wings are the expected species birders should be watchful for possible Cliff and Cave.