Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rainy Day in Miami

Sunday April 23rd

Spring migration can be fun or frustrating for Florida Birders. It all depends of the weather conditions. So far birding activities have been slow till today. With arrival of very much needed rain and westerly winds, we're starting to see some action.

The rains also coincided with a short birding vacation I had been planning for several weeks with the idea of heading for the Florida Keys and southern Miami-Dade  County for neo-tropical migrants, as well as, South Florida specialties.

So, today it's raining. But that is actually a good thing for several reasons. Mostly though, is the fact that in this end of Florida the dangers from brush fires is quite real. In fact, as I am traveling across Alligator Alley toward my destination, smoldering, smoking, blackened remnants of has been labeled the Cowbell Fire in the Big Cypress Preserve can be seen from the highway. There's a large brush fire at Merritt Island NWR their calling the Black Point Fire, and locally in 7,000 residents had to evacuate their homes in Golden Gate Estates where several homes were destroyed and fire fighters even had to help rescue a trapped rhino from a ravaged exotic animal sanctuary.. A smaller brush fire in Lehigh Acres, near Harns Marsh was quickly contained, but more property was destroyed there as well.
Muscovy Ducks can been found in urban areas
through out Florida

Made my first stop on this trip at the Chapel Trail in Pembroke Pines.  It was a quick visit, were I was able to find a trio of Gray-headed Swamphens. Usually we can easily find them at Harns Marsh, but the marsh has been drying up and the Swamphens have had to move elsewhere.

Egyptian Goose

Then onto Kendal Baptist Hospital campus where the waterfowl didn't seem to care much about the rain. Lots of Muscovy Ducks, domestic breeds of geese and duck, a lone Egyptian Goose, a fly over of Mitred Parakeets, Common Gallinules, White Ibis, Fish Crows and House Sparrows.

Crossing over to the north side of Kendal Road, I drove around this neighborhood in search of red-whiskered bulbuls. With the rain slowing down, thought that maybe they maybe  active. Didn't see any, but one feeder was hosting a trio of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets.

The rains have slowed quit a bit now as I entered the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables. This location can be a great site for exotic parrots and other avian species. In the past we have seen Scaly-headed Parrot, Spot-breasted Oriole, Red-masked Parakeet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, White-winged Parakeet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw and Common Hill Myna. Today I was able to add a pair of Blue and Yellow Macaws, a new bird for me, plus a single Scaly-headed Parrot and a flock of Red-masked Parakeets.

A Blue and Yellow Macaw

Scaly-headed Parrot

 After leaving the campus it was time to check-in at the hotel in Florida City, were after supper there was still time to make a run over to Aerojet Road, outside of Everglades National Park before dark.  Started with White-winged Dove and Common Mynas in town.  But near to the Park I encountered a flock of Peafowl.  Didn't expect that. As it was nearing dusk a number on Common Nighthawks were busy overhead and as I arrived outside at the Aerojet Road entrance to the Southern Glades Trail was  met by at least ten Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a Gray Kingbird and a pair of Western Kingbirds, one of which I suspected was a Tropical Kingbird
Common Myna

A Peahen crossing the road
Western  Kingbird

Best bird seen today was the Barn Owl I spotted flying across the field where the Kingbirds were found. Another noticeable observation that so many of today's sightings were exotic birds. This area hosts a great many exotic plants, reptiles, fishes and bird life. The now infamous Python invasion is another example of a very negative  impact on the environment and Aerojet Road is a location that Python Hunters use locating and collecting these snakes

Monday, April 3, 2017

Life on the Ponds

 Monday April 3rd

A meeting of the minds

Tri-colored Heron dancing for its supper at Six Mile Cypress Preserve

Roseate Spoonbill at Six Mile Cypress Preserve

Black-necked Stilt at Ollie's Pond in Port Charlotte

Wood Stork at Ollie's Pond

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Ollie's Pond

Least Sandpiper at Ollie's Pond

Lesser Yellowlegs at Ollie's Pond

Friday, March 31, 2017

Six-Mile Cypress Slough

Friday March 31

Cardinal Air Plant or Tillandsia are a common sight

Blue Flag Iris
Six-Mile Cypress Slough Preserve can be a great place to do some birding, but there is more than birds to see. Wild flowers, wetlands flora, butterflies, snakes and lizards, gators and turtles and even fish.  Currently dry conditions are in place till the rainy season begins. The water levels have dropped significantly, concentrating fishes, gators and wading birds to the shrinking ponds and pools. Wild hogs have invaded the dried slough bottom, tearing up the ground in search of food.

Green Anole flashing his dewlap

Feral Hogs have moved into the slough as the waters recede

Alligators have been crowded into the shrinking pools

Florida Gar

an aggressive and invasive species introduced through the tropical fish hobby


Florida Gar with a Florida Flag Fish meal


Big Footed Bug

Pond Cypress,
which is not very common in the slough
Bald Cypress, a predominate tree in the slough,
Some are hundreds of years old

The receding waters have also exposed this small turtle shell

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Time in Cape Coral

Tuesday March 28th

This morning  I spent time birding various location in Cape Coral, starting at the Ball Fields on Pelican Boulevard. From here, began a series of observations of spring time romance amongst the birds.  Basically noted the Monk Parakeets and Fish Crows present collecting nesting materials. At other location noticed the same behavior with Starlings and Blue Jays, plus Downy Woodpeckers and Flickers prepping nest holes.

Pelican Blvd Ball Fields

This Fish Crow spent time adjusting this twig just so.

Monk Parakeets were busy collecting twigs for their huge nests

Working the nest

Burrowing Owl

Rotary Park

A Few Palm Warblers were present

Visited Rotary Park next and found it rather quite. A few waders, Mockingbirds, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Prairie Warblers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Greater Yellowlegs

Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve

Northern Flicker prepping her nest hole
On my first visit to Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve, encountered Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers actively prepping nest hole, plus Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Blue Jays carrying nesting material. Lots of Eastern Towhees could be heard and with a high tide not much was happening along the shore line.

Downy female checking her nest hole

Red-bellied Woodpecker in breeding colors

Downy Woodpecker inspection nest hole

Banded American Kestrel
This American Kestrel was seen down the road from the entrance. I hadn't ever notice one with a leg band before.