TAS Caravan Birding in Martin County, 3/12/22

Sixteen birders joined me today for the TAS caravan birding trip to Martin County, which began at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, located at the eastern end of the county. In spite of windy conditions all morning, we still managed to find a nice selection of birds, first in coastal scrub habitat near the park’s Pine Grove Campground, then in pine flatwood habitat in the Kitching Creek area near the Loxahatchee River. Highlights of our exploration of the coastal scrub included a mob of Florida Scrub-Jays, a pair of Wood Ducks, a calling Eastern Screech-Owl, a close encounter with a Hairy Woodpecker and distant but still satisfying views of Red-headed Woodpeckers. In the Kitching Creek area, we found a few more of our target species, enjoying up-close views of a Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebird but obtaining only fleeting glimpses of a Bachman’s Sparrow. We then had lunch in the Kitching Creek picnic area.

The original itinerary called for an afternoon visit to Dupuis Management Area, near Lake Okeechobee in western Martin County, but since the weather radar indicated that rain from a southbound cold front was fast approaching, I decided it would be best to switch to an afternoon birding option that didn’t require a long drive. I chose Cypress Creek South Natural Area, located just west of Florida’s Turnpike and just south of the Martin County line. We explored a short section of the preserve, adding a few more birds to our day list, including Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Glossy Ibis and Bald Eagle. As the skies darkened and we began to feel a few raindrops, we decided to cut short our visit and head back to our cars. At that point, we had tallied 53 species for the day, all of which are listed in an eBird trip report .

Florida Scrub Jay photo by Luis Gonzalez, who also compiled the eBird checklists.