Western Kingbird. Smooth-billed Ani.

This morning Roger was in town and picked me up at 8AM. We decided to head for Sheffield Regional Park over Huguenot Park, and along the way we started to pass by (what is left of) M&M Dairy. After lamenting what was such a great place to bird, we realized the end by the new warehouse was vacant and seemed to be open for access. We parked and decided to bird M&M.

We had a fantastic couple of hours out there, tallying just over 50 species while walking all over the fields for the first time in probably ten years together. (Back “in the day” we could walk all over the pastures with permission, not so much in recent years).

As we turned the first corner of the berm (reminiscent of the “Masters Tract” in St. Johns County), we encountered groups of birds including a “greenie” Painted Bunting, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, and a Pileated Woodpecker. As we turned the next corner, I saw a largish yellow bird fly off and land ahead of us…Western Kingbird!

Western Kingbird. M&M Dairy.

This particular Kingbird was a little more sketchy than most, so didn’t allow for very good pictures. This same area was hopping though, with an adult male Painted Bunting, Savannah and Chipping Sparrows, and a single American Pipit.

Savannah Sparrow. M&M Dairy

We continued slogging through the fields and ended up by the marshy area where Roger found a single Rusty Blackbird.

Chipping Sparrow. M&M Dairy.

Roger had to jet, so I headed to Little Talbot in search of the Smooth-billed Ani. Shortly after arriving, I met Steve and Liz from North Carolina and struck up a great conversation. They were traveling down through Florida and stopped off to see the Ani, which we found within 5 minutes behind the restroom pavilion at lot 2. The bird was very active, and we watched as it hawked a flying grasshopper in mid air, then landed with it in it’s mouth. After eating it, it seemed to be very content and we watched it for 15-20 minutes at very close distance. It seemed comfortable with us, which is probably because we weren’t calling it via recording and creeping up on us. The light was HARSH, but I managed a few shots that are pretty decent. These are all at 500mm with no crop.

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