Count update: 239/400
I followed Alabama’s limited Gulf shoreline into the Florida panhandle. Much of this is already developed with homes, condo’s, hotels and the like. But I did find an excellent section of virtually untouched preserved National Seashore. This peninsula is over 5 miles long. At the very end are the ruins of Fort McRee, a small abandoned US military post. It has not been in use since WWII. Everything has been removed except for some cement foundation and fort walls. Over time sand has drifted up against the once tall walls so they are now only waist high. I guess they could still defend against enemies that are under 3 feet tall? The beauty here was not the historic fort, but the 11.5 mile round trip deserted beach walk to it. Birds were not plentiful but the views were spectacular! Few things in life feel better than walking miles on a deserted beach with gentle waves and sunshine. To top off the day, I got back to the car just in time to enjoy a perfect sunset. I’m both surprised and grateful there are still places like this in the US.
While in northeast Alabama last year I found 88 bird species. By staying near the salt water habitat this year it was not hard to add new birds to my state life list. It now totals 101, making ‘Bama the 7th state with 100 or more lifetime species. But only Horned Grebe was a new species for the 2018 year list. I crossed into Florida with 235 for the year.
A professional bird guide I met last year lives in Gainsville, FL and told me that Sweetwater Regional Preserve was a great place to spend a day. So I stopped in. He was right! This marshland was thick with all sorts of water related birds, waders and ducks were everywhere. In a 2-3 mile walk I encountered many species and had great views of them, including 4 new 2018 year birds: Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, the noisy Limpkin and the "ugly bird of the day award" goes to Wood Stork.