Trip Report: Crane Island Park 5-13-20

Hey Birders,
If you want to get out of the house and take a walk with sunshine, please join us on our walks. This morning we started at the soccer fields and walked to Crane Island Park. I heard what I thought was a bunting but the singer turned out to be a beautiful male Blue Grosbeak. As long as I was wrong on songs, I continued my streak on our return thinking we were hearing the Grosbeak again. It turned out to be a male Painted Bunting. In this area that borders the airport we also observed a group of Bobolinks in flight that were mostly females and first year birds. Next was a beautiful first year male Orchard Oriole.On Crane Island we had good looks at Red-tailed, Red-shouldered Hawks and Bald Eagle. A few late warblers also showed up including a Blackpoll and American Redstart.
Please join me on Friday morning at 10 am to see shorebirds at Spoonbill Pond across from Big Talbot Sate Park boat ramp parking area. Recently I have seen a White-rumped Sandpiper, Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. A variety of plovers are also present along with a few Black-necked Stilts. A very unlikely bird seen Monday was a short view of a probable Curlew Sandpiper totally separate from other shorebirds. Meet me on the boardwalk at the first bird overlook.

Richard Timm sent me these photos from our trip to Crane Island Park. Normally we think the top bird is the Bald Eagle but the Loggerhead Shrike decided to perch atop a statue of the the Bald Eagle. The Bobolink photo is that of a female or young bird but is atypical in that there is black showing on the upper breast. Some birders have posted that there is a Dickcissel among the Bobolinks we observed. The possibility of a hybrid needs to be considered. The Willet is atypical of the ones we see at the beach in the winter since it has started breeding plumage. The two-toned bill may indicate it is the Eastern subspecies. In Florida both Western and Eastern are seen.

One Comment

  1. Enjoyed the post.

    Regarding the comment suggesting the Dickcissel sighting might be a hybrid I offer the following comments (rebuttal). I do this because it is the only ebird record in Nassau County and hence of special importance.

    1) the picture posted on ebird 5/5/2020 shows a pure Dickcissel with no unusual plumage suggesting hybrid. I would say the photo shows a most average Dickcissell.

    2) We heard it sing … Nothing unusual about the song…pure Dickcissel. One other birder also reported hearing it.

    3) A hybrid Dickcissel has never been definitively seen (Pyle V I, page 623). So a hybrid would be super surprising…a world first…and given the photograph not a choice. There have been discussion of hybrids with Blue Grosbeaks. The famous Towsend’s Bunting of Audubo is now thought to be a schizochroistic Dickcissel (a mutation in which one pigment is missing…in this case yellow); and, the famous Pince Edward Point bird of 2014 is also believed by most to be a schizochroistic Dickcissel (once more lacking the yellow pigment). So in summary, although there has been speculation that a Dickcissel could hybridize with a Blue Grosbeak such a bird has never been recorded definitively.

    3) The mention of cohabitation of Bobolinks was a part of the identification description. During migration Dickcissels are known to migrate with Bobolinks (Peter Dunne in Essential Field Guide Companion page 640).

    Anyway photographic record is clear. This is important as it is the only sighting I am aware of in Nassau County.

    I welcome any comments.