Birdwalk Highlights for 4/16: Florida Lake Park, Freeport

'Tis the season! We'll be here a lot this spring, group size and parking lot space permitting, and today was a good introduction to this local spring hotspot.

It took a while to fine the warblers today, but we ran into the wave twice. The first time was the tail end of the group, but the second time was ahead of the group and we were able to see each individual as it flew across a clearing, often pausing on one side or the other. Great looks were to be had, and many were in song to help us brush off the winter rust. We guesstimated about 50 PALM WARBLERS and 25 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, with a pair of PINE WARBLERS also seen.

A couple of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were heard, but not seen, 3 NORTHERN FLICKERS passed overhead, and above, we spotted three migrant BROAD-WINGED HAWKS and one COOPER'S HAWK. Surprisingly, a GREAT EGRET also passed overhead, heading back to the coast - a rarity inland in spring, and perhaps only my second ever spring record for the park.

In the water, we enjoyed the 24 loafing RING-NECKED DUCKS, and after a while, finally had decent looks at the one PIED-BILLED GREBE. CANADA GEESE are already nesting, and a few local MALLARDS were also present. One BELTED KINGFISHER dropped in, and at least two OSPREYS were fishing.

Elsewhere, we had a mere 3 EASTERN PHOEBES, but an increase in PURPLE FINCHES (4-6), and at least 10 SONG SPARROWS, many of which were also migrants. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and TREE SWALLOWS put on a good show as always.

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