Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Everglades and Lucky Hammock Again - Dec 14th

Made another trip out to Lucky Hammock and the Everglades seeking those special bird species that should be found there in December. Wanted to find Swainson's Hawks, which by this time last year I had several sightings, but don't seem to have found there way to South Florida in 2009. Also have read of several sightings of Shorteared Owls at Lucky Hammock as well as Whipper-poor-Wills, to be seen at or heard at dawn or dusk.
So I gave it a try but missed on all even with arriving at sunrise. Had left home at 4 AM, arriving just before seven. Did see American Kestrel, a Peregrine, several Northern Harriers, a Broad-Wing Hawk and later in the park, a light-morphed Short-tailed Hawk, a Red-tailed Hawk, several Red-Shouldered Hawks and Ospreys, plus an immature Bald Eagle. Another missed species were White-tailed Kites which I looked for both at Lucky hammock and on Research Road in the park.

At Flamingo, the best sighting had to be a hundred American White Pelicans resting out on the mud flats. A large American Crocodile was also at its usual basking site across the canal from the marina.
At Royal Hammock, many dozens of Black Vultures were congregated in the parking lot and along the Anhinga Trail. The trouble in the parking lot was that the vultures were jumping up onto the hoods and roofs of the vehicles there, were they would relieve themselves as well as trying to pull apart any trim they could pull on. My own car was victimized as well.
The birding was not all that good so I left a bit earlier than usual to drive over Florida City to check on the reported Western Kingbirds and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. Did locate one of each at the SW 312th Street which was also a reliable location last year.
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher - December 2008

Then to Cutler Wetlands were avocets and ruddy ducks are reported. Found it rather birdy, but the light and distance made identifying most of the ducks difficult to manage. So I moved on to Kendell.

The traffic was heavy in Kendell as I was arriving in mid-afternoon to look for exotics. At Kendell Baptist Hospital campus was lucky to find a flock of about 30 Mitred Parakeets wheeling about the campus. They would all land in the canopy of a large tree were they virtually disappeared. They blended right into the foliage, but there vocalizations gave them away. After there brief visit they took off away from the hospital. So it was time to head for home. Had considered checking the neighborhood across the street from the hospital for red-whiskered Bulbuls, but fatigue and the heavy traffic dissuaded me from further ventures. Yet I was rewarded in my way out of town with several sightings of Monk Parakeets along Kendell Drive. Was able to get a few pictures of a flock of Monks competing with grackles and mourning doves feeding below a palm tree in a Home Depot parking lot.

Monk Parakeets in Kendell parking lot

Soft Shell Turtle found along the road in The Everglades Park

Florida Gar found along the Anhinga Trail

Young Pied-Billed Grebes

A scene from Mohogany Hammock

American Alligator

Female Anhinga on her nest along the Anhinga Trail

Black Vultures trying to make a meal out of a car

Double-Crested Cormorants

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