Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to Lucky Hammock, The Everglades & Cutler Wetlands - October 19th


On Monday October 19th I still had the bug to cash-in on the big cold front fall-out in the Miami area that stung us on Sunday's hawk watch on Sanibel Island. I had the day off and arrangements had been made to free-up my time, so I ventured over to the east coast.
To reach my first stop by sunrise, I had to leave home at 4am. This stop was at what some birders call Lucky Hammock and The Annex on Aerojet Road. This just outside of the eastern entrance to Everglades National Park. The attached posting on the TAS message board, noted an exciting list of birding opportunities like White-Tail Kites, Short-Tail Hawks and Western, Eastern and Gray Kingbirds plus a Philadelphia Vireo. Arrived just before sun-up and drove the length of the road looking for any nighthawks or chucks-poor-widows. None found. But a Norther Harrier quickly arrived on sight and a roosting White-tailed Kite was noticed sitting atop a bush in the field. The kite soon took off in the early morning. Short-tailed Hawks began to show up and several, both light and dark were active in the area. It was still windy like Sunday which tends to keep many birds buried in the shrubbery, but the hammock area yielded some good birds. They included a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, several American Redstarts, a female Painted Bunting. A couple of pairs of Sandhill Cranes came in to the nearby fields.

The Annex area was not nearly as birdy because of the winds. Lots of Gray Catbirds were vocalizing but skulking in the brush. A a very late Gray Kingbird fought the winds in its effort to sit on the power lines. Never did find any eastern Kingbirds, but I did run into Larry Manfredi, who showed me were a Western Kingbird was sitting. The Gray and Western would be keeping each other company. Larry Manfredi is a noted local birder and guide. His web site is very valuable in the search for south Florida and Caribbean specialties. Larry spend a half hour with me, sharing information on the background to this location and how best to look for certain specialities. I would love to book a trip with him some day.

My list - Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Cardinal, Painted Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle

Probably are Short-billed Dowitchers
Enter Everglades national Park about 11:00am and spent the next four and half hours looking for birding hot-spots. They were not to be found here today. Took a stab at the Western Spindalis in Long Pine campgrounds, but not much of anything was found there. Not much was found anywhere. Ventured all the way to Flamingo were a few shorebirds and several Ospreys were present. Had a bald eagle soaring above Eco Pond. Noted several flocks of Wood Storks moving back into south Florida. Today there was a large American Crocodile basking on the shore across from the marina at Flamingo.
My list - Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee
Left the park for my final stop before heading the three hour drive home. Headed over to the Homestead-Cutler Ridge area to a site known as Cutler Wetlands, which is a surface water management sight. While sitting at a red light at US 1 in Homestead I was able to locate a pair of Common Mynas among the hundreds or so crows, grackles and starlings hanging out at the intersection, by the white spots under there wings as they flew from one resting spot to another.
The extreme variety of birdlife found at Cutler Wetlands makes it a must stop location. Past sightings have included sacred ibis, flamingo and yellow-headed blackbirds. Today we had Long-Billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spoonbills and Blue-Winged Teal.
My list - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Rock Pigeon

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