This morning I drove to the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area. The parking area for it is right across the street from Orlando Wetlands Park. If there's no hunt planned for the day, you can get there as early as you like and walk to the St. John's River. The trail takes you to the St. Johns just north of Lake Cone. There's another trail that may have taken me a bit farther south, and I may try that next time, but it will probably be a longer walk. There was some great sparrow habitat along the walk. Major parts looked wonderful for Le Conte's Sparrow, and I heard calls in three places sounded looked like ammodramus
calls. I suspect that's what they were, but I only got my eyes on one, and I didn't see it long enough to be sure. The area was loaded with Swamp and Savannah Sparrows as well as Sedge and Marsh Wrens. Common Yellowthroats and Palm Warblers were also abundant. My first sparrow of the morning was a surprising White-crowned Sparrow. I've never had one by the St. John's before.
My main goal was to get to the St. Johns to look for shorebirds. I've never been to this part of the St. Johns before, and I didn't know quite what to expect. When I made it to the river, life got really hard. The river's edge was extremely soft in places and once I sunk one boot deep into the mud. I managed to get out without filling my boot with water, but I got mud all over my pants and hands getting myself out. I was really hoping the birds out here would be worth that. Farther north in Seminole Co, there are lots of yellowlegs, dowitchers, snipe, Dunlin, and Least Sandpipers along the river's edge. I wanted Dunlin for my Orange Co. year list. Thankfully, I saw all these species, but not in the numbers I'm accustomed to seeing them in Seminole County.
In all I walked 6 miles, and about a half mile of it was pretty slow going. I think it was worth the hike. I got my Dunlin, I found a very surprising White-crowned Sparrow, and I found some wonderful Le Conte's habitat with a likelihood of seeing them in the future. I have yet to see that species in Orange Co.
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