Saturday, March 20, 2010

STA - 5, A Florida Birding Hotspot!


As a birder, every once in a while you come across a place that leaves you almost speechless. A place that leaves you looking in all directions and an excited stressed mess because you don't know where to focus your attention. A place that drives you absolutely nuts and gives you the feeling that you never want to leave. You want time to stop for just a little while. STA-5 is one of those places.
American White Pelicans... lots to be seen, a very picturesque bird.

Roseatte Spoonbill... who could get enough of this?

STA-5 is not open to the public so you have to pre-register with the local audubon society that sponsor's auto tours of the property about 1 time per month. The representatives from the local Audubon are great people and take the tour very serious. As you arrive, you will check in at the gate and then line-up behind a caravan of other cars. Carpooling is encouraged. Walkie talkies are shared so that the caravan can share sightings. If you wish to move a little slower around the tour, you are encouraged to stay at the back of the line.

Osprey with a HUGE fish!

Woodstork... a highlight for me. They were everywhere.

From the moment you start, you will be thankful you're there. White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseatte Spoonbills, White Pelicans, American Coots, and Fulvous Whistling Ducks fill the waters on all sides. Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures filled the sky and Norther Harriers hovered all over the place!

A Snail Kite... not a great picture but an awesome bird nonetheless. Lifer.

Turkey Vulture... with a 6ft wingspan, the picture doesn't do this bird much justice. This has been one of my favorite species since I was in middle school.

Fulvous Whistling Ducks... In this particular spot there were at least 500! Lifer.

Cattle Egret... this bird was everywhere. Not a bad problem to have in my opinion. A gorgeous bird.

All birds were highlights but the biggest highlight species for me were Limpkin, Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Purple Gallinule, Eurasion Wigeon, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Western Kingbird, Tropical Kingbird, and Black Skimmers.

Black-necked Stilt... they were everywhere. Very nice.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Again, all over. Amazing!

Black Vultures... the dominated the sky. This was a gathering of the minds I think.

Black Skimmer.... I really liked this picture because this particular bird seemed to be playing with fire tormenting this Alligator. It went back and forth inches away from becoming supper.

American Alligator... What would Florida be without this site? STA-5 was full of these lovely creatures. Big ones too!

If you haven't been, GO! All three of our destinations, Corkscrew Swamp, Ding Darling NWR, and STA-5 are highly recommended and are must go's for anyone that loves nature - especially birders. If you go to STA-5, be sure to take your camera, sunscreen, insect repellent, scope, binoculars, and a full tank of gas. Do not get to close to the water's edge as Alligators are everywhere!

STA-5 blessed me with 6 wonderful life birds! The entire trip blessed me with 14! Can't beat the reward for going. However, lifers or not, I would definitely go back to this birders paradise.

For more information on STA-5, go to www.tropicalaudubon.org

1 comment:

Kay said...

What great birds and photos! We are going to Florida in a few weeks and your post makes me really excited. We have many of the same birds here in south Texas (lots of mediocre pictures of great birds on my blog), but several are new. I'm hoping to see the Snail Kite. I'm really glad I found your blog
-Kay

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