Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To Twitch or Not To Twitch

This past winter, while visiting Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, I found myself in conversation with a Brit - I’ve met a lot of Brits here birding Florida - as we were waiting patiently at the Bunting House feeder for Painted Buntings to make an appearance. He proceeded to ask me if I Twitched. Not being familiar with the phrase, he explained that it was the chasing after a rare bird sighting. Hopefully to add it to your life list. My answer has to be yes. However, my handful of disappointments had begun to curb my twitching activities.
Sometime the chase was easy, like when I found a fresh posting on Birdbrains about a Scarlet Ibis at nearby Lakes Park in Ft Myers. Well within ten minutes we were out of the door and had my tick within a half-hour of reading the posting. Some other successes include Whooping Cranes, and Harris Sparrow in Paines Prairie, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in Florida City, A Ruff in Myakka State park, the Tropical Kingbird in Homestead, a Masked Duck in Lake City and Purple Sandpipers in Ponce Inlet
Sometimes the chase is a bust. Twice I headed to Ranch Road in Lake County to add the, easily locatable Says Phoebe, which is a rare vagrant to Florida and to the near by Lusk Road location for an Ash-Throated Flycatcher. Many people had successfully located the birds, but I wasn’t so lucky. The much posted about Fork-Tailed Flycatcher last November, that was hanging around the Pelican Island WMA, disappeared just prior to my arrival. I had also twice ventured to Key Largo looking for White-Crowned Pigeons and only found mosquitoes. Purple Swamphens were supposed to be easy to find in Pembroke Pines, but seems that the population had been removed as they are exotics.
Looked for Chestnut-Fronted Macaws and other parrots around Kendall- Miami area. Also missed Spotted Orioles and Red-Whiskered Bulbuls in Kendall several times. Also need to add my many failures at locating the Smooth-Billed Ani near the Ft Lauderdale airport.
So now I have to ask myself where to it is worthwhile to twitch on the latest rarities. I passed on the Greater Sand-Plover in Jacksonville due to distance and costs, being broke actually, which was a shame as many observers were also able to add Artic Terns to their life lists too. Now we are hearing about a rare vagrant pair of Sulphur-Bellied Flycatchers in the Annex area near the Everglades, were I was just a week earlier. But I don’t think I can head back anytime soon. So-to-twitch-or-not-to-twitch

Below is an excellent site for explaining about Twitching and other aspects of birding

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