On excursion to Tampa, Florida, I found two species that I have seen only very rarely in past years in the United States: Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) and Northern Parula (Setophaga americana). Both of these also occur in Costa Rica but after more than 10 years here I have so far failed to spot them. They were at two very different locations but are considered reasonably common birds in sub-tropical Florida.
The egret was a solitary bird on the bay side of the Gulf islet at Howard Park and allowed very close views. It was easy to approach all the shorebirds at this beautiful Pinellas County park; they barely even bother to flush even when you get within a few feet of them. The only other egrets present here were one Great Egret and one Snowy Egret. A rehabilitated Great Blue Heron with a club foot was released by its captors during our brief stay. We were told that this heron had been in the area, always with a club foot, for at least 7 years.
Another Reddish Egret was among hundreds of White Ibis and herons/egrets (mainly Little Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets) at dusk at the rookery opposite the Convention Center on the Tampa Riverwalk. Several Tri-colored Herons (Egretta tricolor) were also present. Unfortunately we did not carry cameras on any of these occasions, so all photos are from Karel Straatman‘s 2012 files, for which I thank him again say hi.
Here’s a nice shot of a Northern Parula, a rarity in Costa Rica I believe:
This little warbler cannot be confused with our resident Tropical Parula. The Northern Parula’s wing bars are very evident and its plumage is much lighter than that of the Tropical, which appears essentially as two-tone dark blue and yellow in Costa Rica. The Northern Parula is a resident species in Florida. We encountered this one at Lettuce Lake Park, just north of downtown Tampa. This reserve is famous for its boardwalk, giving access to many aquatic species, but sadly it was closed because of flooding and hence we saw only a very few woodland species.
The two-tone bill, red and black, of the Reddish Egret is shared by the much smaller but almost as handsome Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa), which I add here since this species was also feeding at Howard Park along with many other shorebirds such as dowitchers, knots and turnstones:
Wish we could stay longer in Florida!