On Saturday, September 2, thirty-one birders joined Bill Boeringer and me for Tropical Audubon’s annual birding trip to the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee in western Palm Beach County. We began the trip at sunrise at the southern end of A1-FEB (Flow Equalization Basin) on the west side of US 27, where 32 species were tallied, including Common Ground-Dove, Gray-headed Swamphen, Limpkin, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Purple Martin, Bank, Barn and Tree Swallows, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink. We then checked the agricultural fields on the east side of US 27, where Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet and Gray Kingbird were among the species added to participant’s day list. Next, we visited Hidden Lake, located just south of South Bay, where large numbers of Pectoral Sandpipers, as well as Black-bellied Plover and Least and Western Sandpipers were found on surrounding sod fields. Other species seen in this area included Common Nighthawk, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Common Yellowthroat.
It was still a little too early for lunch, so we decided to drive east, through Belle Glade, to Gladeview Road, located off of CR 880. We ran into some rain showers along the way, but the rains ended shortly after arriving at our destination. In the rice fields along the east side of Gladeview Road, we found large flocks of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Blue-winged Teal, along with a few Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Ducks and Black-necked Stilts. Wood Storks were seen in the distance by some participants. On sod fields along the west side of the road, we encountered scattered flocks of Pectoral Sandpipers, along with Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Solitary Sandpiper and a Northern Harrier. We then returned to Belle Glade for lunch. Along the way, King Rail and Crested Caracara were spotted by Bill and possibly others. Among the birds seen in town were Laughing Gull, Fish Crow and Common Myna.
After lunch, we headed east again, stopping this time at a flooded field on the south side of CR 880 near Sam Senter Road. Lots of shorebirds were feeding along the shoreline, including Black-necked Stilt, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Least, Pectoral, Semipalmated, Western and Solitary Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Terns were also well represented, with many Black Terns, a few Gull-billed Terns and a single Caspian Tern seen. At the south end of the flooded field, we found a flock of ducks that we initially identified as Gadwall but turned out to be molting Blue-winged Teal. We ended the day at the Hatton Highway sod farms east of Pahokee. We were hoping to find a lingering Upland Sandpiper here, but none were seen. As consolation, we encountered our only Burrowing Owls of the trip while driving around the sod fields.
An eBird trip report, including checklists for each stop, can be found here.
Black Terns: Photo courtesy of Michele Louden