Thursday, June 10, 2021

Listing bird species in the Wounded Wetlands

My list of bird species seen in our local south Florida birding patch (West Miramar Water Conservation Area aka the Wounded Wetlands) had reached 182 at the end of 2020. Over the years the productivity of the patch has followed the Law of Diminishing Returns. I began keeping my sightings records in eBird in 2009, when my yearly total for this location included 47 different species. 

The year 2010 began with a flourish, adding 6 new species on January 10, including my first Short-tailed Hawk. It was this light morph. Its tail looks red due to refraction of sunlight:

The year 2010 finally yielded 33 new species, which increased the patch's total output to 80 species, about 70% of the prior year's productivity. The pattern continued during the next 5 years (2011-2015), with new species numbering 27, 13, 14, 15 and 9, during which time the productivity rate gradually decreased to 49% (averaging about 10% per year) despite an increase in my total to 158 species.

Grasshopper Sparrow, February 2, 2011

Each of the next five years (2016-2020) added only single-digit new species counts, bringing my total to 182 with an average productivity rate of 13% (pitifully, only 2.6% annually).  

Clay-colored Sparrow, November 17, 2016:

Despite the pandemic, I added five new birds in 2020. Indeed, it was liberating to walk mask-less in the Wounded Wetlands. 

My highlight new species in 2020 was a Yellow Warbler (actually there were two), my only Florida sighting of this species, on August 18:

The Law of Diminishing Returns was working against me when 4 Semipalmated Sandpipers appeared at the edge of the lake on May 24, 2021. This species can be difficult to distinguish from the Western Sandpiper. 

Over the years I have seen small sandpipers, but never well enough to distinguish their species unless they had the yellow legs of a Least Sandpiper, another member of the Calidris genus. 

Yet I assumed that I must have reported the species earlier. Nope, it was always entered as a Semipalmated/Western Sandpiper, not "countable" by eBird. I had backed into a new species! 

Semipalmated Sandpiper #183 in the Wounded Wetlands, foraging in very early morning light. Note the webbing which covers only the base of its toes, hence its name:



Here are Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers in much better light, feeding in a pond near our second home in Illinois, July 17, 2012. The Least Sandpiper displays its yellow legs:

Diminishing returns indeed. So far this year my addition of one species has raised my total count for this patch by only 0.54%. 

As my musing maysuggest, I have not been out in the field very often this past week.  Avian highlights were a Pileated Woodpecker...


...and a juvenile female Northern Cardinal:


A young Raccoon silently watched me from behind a tree trunk:

In the lake, Longnose Gar:

The pilot of a motorized parachute was checking his phone:

Before sunrise on May 30, Jupiter and Saturn were lined up with the Moon in Aquarius (iPhone photo):

Hand-held DSLR photo of Jupiter and three of its moons, a bit jittery:

Storm clouds to the east  broke up the rays of the rising sun...

...which reflected on the smoke from several wildfires and converged on the western horizon:

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:


Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday

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Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display
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20 comments:

  1. I guess diminishing returns is to be expected. Interesting photo of the motorized parachute. I've never seen one before!

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  2. I think your bird count is fantastic. As are your photographs.

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  3. Hi Ken, I'm afraid I couldn't solve the problem with the comment field for you either. I'm sorry. Your photos are great. Thank you for participating in Nature Thursday.
    Elke

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  4. Yet another majestic array of critters.

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  5. Hello Ken,
    I always love your sky images, neat captures of the planets lined up with the moon. Beautiful variety of birds, I love the Yellow Warbler and the Pileated Woodpecker. The Short -tailed Hawk would be a new bird for me. The Sandpipers are so sweet, lovely birds. It is great you have been keeping a record of your sightings. The photos are wonderful. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for the comment on my blog.

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  6. What a post! So many interesting images, just incredible!

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  7. How wonderful to keep up with all you see! I keep a hiking journal and that has given me more room to make observations. It's been SO hot! Yesterday was my hottest hike so far this year. I love that beautiful yellow Warbler!

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  8. So many amazing pictures Ken. I love the Semipalmated Sandpiper. What a bird.

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  9. Fantastic. I miss seeing you when you don't link up at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

    Enjoy your week ahead.

    PS...my favorite today is the pileated.

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  10. Beautiful captures...I especially love the juvenile Cardinal

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  11. Kenneth all of your bird photos are beautiful, I love that handsome Woodpecker. But the guy checking his phone in the parachute was a hoot, thanks for the laugh!!!

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  12. The delicate colours are gorgeous in the last one. #Allseasons

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  13. We never see our raccoon neighbors in the daytime but often catch images at night on the trail cam.
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2021/06/a-visit-to-garden.html

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  14. Wonderful bird photos. The juvenile Cardinal is a cutie. Beautiful sunset and reflections photos. I am impressed you were able to photograph Jupiter and its moons hand held.

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  15. This was the first time I had ever seen a young cardinal, Kenneth. I can readily see how its recognizable by the tuft of feathers on its head. The sandpipers in flight was the first time I'd ever seen them flying.

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  16. I just found you in Spam!! Lovely photos as alwys..Love the juvie cardinal..We have tons of Cardinals around here and I've never seen a wee one..Great planet shots as well..I have been able to get Jupiter when "shooting the moon". I don't take moon shots much any more..How many does one need?? Enjoy your week..

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