USA - South-west Florida - August - September 2013

Published by Mike Wheeler (m.wheeler AT

Participants: Mike Wheeler


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret
Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer
Barred Owl
Barred Owl
Short-billed Dowitcher
Short-billed Dowitcher

This was a family holiday for which birding though a big part was not the primary objective so I had to balance birding with other trips and well, just relaxing. I was rather dubious about going to Florida at this time of the year what with the heat, humidity, guaranteed rain in the afternoons and being late summer the possibility that a lot of birds are just not so easy to find. I was wrong! This was my first trip to Florida and bar a work trip a few years ago in the winter my first to the US so pretty much everything I was going to see would be a life bird. In the end without much effort at all I came away with 70 life birds. We stayed in a (very) quiet resort called Fort Myers Beach on the SW coast between Naples and St Petersburg. This turned out to be a very good decision. As it happened I didn't need to go far for probably the best birding site I could have hoped for - the beach itself. The time of year turned about to be excellent as this was wader (shorebird) passage time and the population of birds on the beach and adjacent lagoons changed daily. Because of the time of year the afternoon rain meant that there was a 'temporary' pond on the beach which attracted several hundred birds that were easily visible and didn't mind me walking up to them and photographing them from up close (necessary as I don't have brilliant camera equipment). The beach was quiet and virtually empty which also helped. hence most of the birding was done there and I tended to visit once or twice a day over the two weeks from 20th August to 2nd September. the list for the beach and the Little Estero CWA lagoon adjacent to it on the southern part of Estero Island is therefore an amalgamation of dates. Other places visited included a paid touristy (but excellent!) trip to the Everglades (really just off the Tamiami Trail), Corkscrew Swamp, Six Mile Cypress, Sanibel Island and Bunche Beach. The wildlife drive around Ding Darling was closed unfortunately so our only visit there was to the Bailey Tract which was very quiet. I'd truly recommend anyone visit this time of year. The birds were fantastic, the place was quiet and the weather was good (if wet in the afternoon). the other notable thing was the lack of other birders around. For an area of this quality birdwise it is seriously underwatched!

Species Lists

Brown Pelican - Most days around 20 on Ft Myers Beach but up to 150. Also flyovers from the house we rented daily.

Magnificent Frigatebird - Daily over Ft Myers Beach and the house as there was a small colony on Estero Lagoon around half a mile away.

Anhinga - CWA lagoon (several days), Tamiami Trail, Six Mile Cypress.

Double-crested Cormorant - Daily on Fort Myers Beach. Daily over the house.

Great Blue Heron - Daily on Fort Myers Beach. In the garden of our house.

Great Egret - Daily on Fort Myers Beach. In the garden of our house. Tamiami Trail (everywhere!).

Snowy Egret - Daily on Fort Myers Beach. In the garden of our house.

Reddish Egret - Daily on Fort Myers Beach/CWA lagoon.

Little Blue Heron - the least common of the larger herons seen. Lover's Key, Fort Myers Beach, once from the house, Sanibel Island.

Tricoloured Heron - Daily on Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Cattle Egret - seen from road whilst driving. I75 south of St Petersburg. Tamiami Trail.

Green Heron - Seen several times on CWA lagoon. Sanibel Island.

White Ibis - Daily on Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon. In the garden of our house.

Roseate Spoonbill - Most days Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Muscovy Duck - part of feral population seen from the road outside Miami.

Mottled Duck - several times on CWA lagoon.

Black Vulture - seen pretty much everywhere. Large numbers at N end of Estero Island and on Tamiami Trail.

Turkey Vulture - seen many times mostly from the car whilst driving.

Osprey - incredibly common and at least four continuously fishing from the beach. Seen from garden.

Swallow-tailed Kite - unexpectedly seen from car off I75 south of St Petersburg.

Red-shouldered Hawk - Corkscrew Swamp.

Bald Eagle - seen over garden (chasing osprey) and off I75 whilst driving.

Crested Caracara - Six Mile Cypress and twice whist driving (I75, Tamiami Trail).

Common Gallinule - one seen on pond at the side of the road, Tamiami Trail.

Black-bellied Plover - 2-8 daily Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Killdeer - 2 twice Fort Myers Beach.

Semipalmated Plover - 10-20 daily Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Piping Plover - 1 seen twice Fort Myers Beach.

Snowy Plover - daily Fort Myers Beach.

Wilson's Plover - 2 once Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

American Oystercatcher - 2-4 several times Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

American Avocet - 2 seen once Fort Myers Beach.

Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 seen twice Fort Myers Beach.

Spotted Sandpiper - singles seen Fort Myers Beach and Bunche Beach.

Willet - daily Fort Myers Beach.

Marbled Godwit - 1-6 seen several times Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Whimbrel - singles seen Fort Myers Beach and Bunche Beach (whilst looking for and missing Long-billed Curlew).

Turnstone - daily Fort Myers Beach.

Sanderling - daily Fort Myers Beach.

Knot - small flocks seen several times Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Semipalmated Sandpiper - daily Fort Myers Beach. (dozens).

Western Sandpiper - seen several times (some with remnants of summer plumage) Fort Myers Beach.

Least Sandpiper - over 100 at times daily Fort Myers Beach.

Short-billed Dowitcher - around 80 daily Fort Myers Beach.

Laughing Gull - daily Fort Myers Beach and anywhere near the coast.

Ring-billed Gull - once Fort Myers Beach.

Black Skimmer - flock of 250 ever present on Fort Myers Beach.

Sandwich (Cabot's) Tern - flock of ~200 ever present on Fort Myers Beach/CWA lagoon.

Least Tern - around 10 Fort Myers Beach first week but disappeared the second week.

Royal Tern - 4-20 daily Fort Myers Beach.

Forster's Tern - Only in second week then daily ~5 Fort Myers Beach.

Black Tern - Only in second week then daily 2-20 on Fort Myers Beach/CWA Lagoon.

Mourning Dove - everywhere including garden.

Common Ground Dove. Fort Myers beach and garden.

Collared Dove - Lots everywhere.

Barred Owl. Seen in Big Cypress Preserve whilst on an organised trip.

Chimney Swift - over the garden several times usually 4 or 5.

Belted Kingfisher - side of the road on Turner River Road and CWA lagoon once.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - common, in the garden daily, Corkscrew Swamp, Six Mile Cypress.

Downy Woodpecker - 1 Six Mile Cypress.

Pileated Woodpecker - Corkscrew Swamp and remarkably one over the house after a violent thunderstorm.

Great Crested Flycatcher - 1 pair, Corkscrew Swamp.

Eastern Kingbird - one on wire Bonita Springs and a pair on 'Jane's Scenic Drive' off the Tamiami Trail.

Gray Kingbird - daily from garden and lots on wired all over Estero Island.

White-eyed Vireo - 1 pair Corkscrew Swamp.

Red-eyed Vireo - 1 Six Mile Cypress.

Blue Jay - 1 in garden and many heard Corkscrew swamp, Six Mile Cypress.

American Crow - seen by side of road with roadkill Tamiami Trail on several occasions.

Fish Crow - usually several daily on Estero Island.

Barn Swallow - common everywhere and 50+ seen flying south over house.

Purple Martin. 2 seen twice over garden.

Tufted Titmouse - 1 Corkscrew Swamp.

Carolina Wren - Corkscrew swamp, Six Mile Cypress.

Northern Mockingbird - daily in the garden and elsewhere common.

European Starling - common - around 200 gathered on wires by the house following the rain each afternoon.

Prairie Warbler - 1 Bunche Beach.

Yellow-throated Warbler - 1 pair Bunche Beach.

Black-and-white Warbler - 1 Six Mile Cypress.

American Redstart - 1 Corkscrew Swamp.

Prothonatory Warbler - 2 Corkscrew Swamp.

Common Yellowthroat- 1 Bunche Beach.

Northern Waterthrush - 1 Corkscrew Swamp.

Northern Cardinal - very common including garden and CWA lagoon. Seen everywhere.

Red-winged Blackbird - on organised trip off Tamiami Trail in a garden.

Common Grackle - common including in the garden.

Boat-tailed Grackle - seen only once in Miami.

House Sparrow - in the garden.