Sunday, January 24, 2010

Owl to Owl - Birding in Dade County

Owl to Owl
Birding in Dade County
Monday January 18th - Day #1 of my birding vacation

Along Tamiami Trail
This is to be day #1 on my birding vacation week. Starting out with a very long day trip to Dade County to seek out seasonal South Florida specialties, plus any exotics I can locate. Left home about 5:30am and traveled the Tamiami Trail heading first to the campus of Florida International University. As dawn brightened the new day hundreds of wading birds could be seen lining the parallel canal, but my first bird sighting of the day was a Barred Owl who’s silhouette was easily seen in a bare tree along side the highway. Did stop to confirm the sighting and knew it would be a good day.

Florida International University
FIU is located along the Tamiami Trail outside of Miami and is were the Florida Rare Bird Alert had noting the unusual sighting of a male Western Tanager. One reason I chose Monday for this trip is that it was a holiday and the school would be closed for the day allowing easier access to parking, which is a big deal here. Ran into Trey Mitchell here, who along with a couple of other local birders, put me onto the tanager.
 The Western Tanager was a life count for me. This is link to Trey Mitchell's tanager photos.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Also observed a pair of White-Crowned Pigeons leaving the campus preserve as I arrived. The noisy monk parakeets were easily notice and did find a couple of Blue-Headed Vireos. The other birders were mostly heading up to the Miami Beach area to looking for the red-footed booby and common eider reported there. Another choice was Bill Baggs to look for the La Sagra Flycatcher . But my plans were to head over to Lucky Hammock for hawks.

 My FIU list - Cooper's Hawk, Rock Pigeon, White-crowned Pigeon, Monk Parakeet, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Western Tanager, Boat-tailed Grackle.

Florida City
Checked out the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher site on 314th SW in Florida City and was able to get a single flycatcher and no western kingbirds on this stop.
Lucky Hammock
 Contractors were busy at the Lucky Hammock location as they were prepping the area for the C-111 canal Everglades Restoration project, to divert the canal drainage effect by spreading the water flow across more land. This project should not effect the birding at this location. This morning not much was happening at the hammock, but a couple of Swainson’s Hawks and a couple of Short Tailed Hawks were easily located. A Northern Harrier was very active in the fields as well. Moved on to the Cutler Wetlands from here, but I plan to return at dusk to look for Lesser Nighthawks and Short-eared Owls.

In as stop in Homestead for gas had a pair of Common Mynas foraging about the gas station. I have found this location to be pretty reliable for mynas. The corner of West palm Drive and Krome Ave.
Cutler Wetlands and Cutler Marsh
The lighting was awful at Cutler Wetlands and it was difficult to id a lot of the ducks and the water was high so there were almost no shorebirds or waders. About a dozen American White Pelicans were present.

American White Pelicans at Cutler Marsh
 Thought that I would give the nearby Cutler Marsh area a try. Found more than a hundred white pelicans and a few ducks like Blue-winged Teal, Green-Winged Teal and Mottled ducks, plus a few Glossy Ibis. Hundreds of vultures can be seen soaring over the near ‘Mt Trashmore’ garbage dump.

My list for Cutler Wetlands - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, American White Pelican, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Eurasian Collared-Dove

My list for Cutler Marsh- Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, American White Pelican, Great Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe

Headed from here to Kendall Baptist Hospital campus. This is a good area to look for exotics like red-Whiskered Bulbuls, Spotted Orioles and various parrots. Walked the ponds and had hits on Red-Masked and Mitred Parrots. The ponds are also home the a great many White Ibis, Muscovy Ducks and a couple of domesticated geese. Also drove around the neighborhood across Kendall Avenue from the hospital for the Bulbuls, but got a dip on them. I understand that it is best to patrol that area in the early morning, like about 8:30am.

My list - Muscovy Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, White Ibis, Monk Parakeet, Red-Masked Parrot, Mitred Parrot, Fish Crow, European Starling, House Sparrow.
Back to Lucky Hammock

Got back to Lucky Hammock about 5:00 and met a veteran birder named Dave who was in from Naples. He had pretty much followed the same itinerary as I had. He put me onto the pair of White-tailed Kites commonly seen here as they came in to hunt the fields. These birds would soar over the area and then hover in place as they scoped out any likely meal options. They hunted just up till dusk. I was able to sight a Western Kingbird inside the hammock. Usually we’d see them wire sitting, but I guess it had gone to roost. One interesting sighting was for Dave, when he walked across the field to the tree-line, as we waited for the short-eared owls, he nearly stepped on a Whip-poor-will which flushed at his feet. Lots of raptures were still about including a Broad-winged hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, a Merlin, several Kestrels, the Northern Harrier and a Swainson’s Hawk. Finally at dusk a pair of Lesser Nighthawks rose above the trees to the west. They were a life count for me. As the mosquitoes came out and it was getting a bit dark we chose to leave, I thought that I had heard the short-ear’s call but nothing was seen. But finally an owl made its appearance. Its silhouette could be seen landing atop a power pole and a second owl flew up to it and then flew down low and out of sight. So we had an owl, but it was not the sought after short-eared, but a Great Horned Owl.

So at the conclusion of this long day my last bird was also an owl. Started with an owl and ended the same.

My list for Lucky Hammock - Cattle Egret, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Merlin, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Great Horned Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Eastern Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark.

A total of 69 species were counted for the day
Muscovy Duck, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Common Mynah, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Egret, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sandhill crane, Killdeer,  Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, White-crowned Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Monk Parakeet, Mitred Parakeet, Red-Masked Parakeet, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Western Tanager, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow.



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