Just outside the entrance to BBSP, we stopped by the roadside to admire a group of perhaps 40 Sandhill Cranes.
Pulling into the 40 Acre Lake parking lot, we noticed that the trees were very busy with birds. Within ten minutes I had seen Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.
The picnic area had its usual complement of American Crows but we also came across a Hermit Thrush, American Pipit and Eastern Phoebe.
It was very cold and windy near the lake and perhaps because of this there were fewer birds than usual on the water. American Coots, Blue-winged Teal and Pied-billed Grebes were numerous, but we saw only a handful of Green-winged Teal, Common Moorhens and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, plus a couple of Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants.
As coots and moorhen presumably share the same taste in food, I would have expected them to squabble over territory. However, this Common Moorhen and American Coot appeared to be getting along well together.
This group of Blue-winged Teal was clearly in the sights of a small alligator.
The edges of the lake had dozens of Killdeer, as well as a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Wilson’s Snipe. Also rummaging at the water’s edge were several Savannah Sparrows and many Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Larger wading birds at 40 Acre were Great and Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Great and Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills. There were also a couple of Caspian Terns.
We didn’t see any American Bitterns or rails, but the grasses and reeds back from the water had Lincoln’s Sparrows and Common Yellowthroat.
Elm Lake was much quieter than usual, with only a sprinkling of water and wading birds. Hoping to see Vermilion Flycatcher and Cinnamon Teal, I walked right around the lake without seeing either species. As compensation, I spotted my first Tree Swallows of the year and had good views of a Swamp Sparrow and several alligators.
This alligator seemed happy to pose for photos.
A picnic under the “Tropical Parula” tree didn’t produce any parulas but we were joined there by Tufted Titmice and a flock of Chipping Sparrows.
Overall, it wasn’t a great birding day, with a total of 43 species and no uncommon birds. However, BBSP is always beautiful and we certainly enjoyed our three hours there.