Monday, February 22, 2010

Purple Gallinule

Dade County Birding - The Search for a Smooth-Billed Ani
February 22, 2010

Elected to twitch after lifers today.  My options were to head north to Sebastian Inlet for the harlequin duck or south after the reported smooth-billed ani at the Anhinga Trail at Royal Hammock in Everglades National Park and then a jump over to Key Biscayne to the LaSagre Flycatcher at Bill Baggs State Park. Even with rain, I chose to go south.  The distance was shorter and a two-for-one was a possibility.
Checked out the scissor-tailed flycatcher roost on Florida City on Sw314th were we found four camera shy birds. Then  a quick stop at Lucky Hammock hoping for a few raptors and maybe warblers and such. Found several kestrels and northern harrier. The best bird here was a Brown-crested Flycatcher. It is a very rare wintering bird to south Florida.
A smooth-billed ani had recently been located along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades and appeared to be very dependable. Well, this species is one of my nemeses birds. It is a bird found in the West Indes and had become a common south Florida bird after its arrival here, on its own.  But now it has become quite rare. A small population has been identified along Old Griffen Highway in Ft Lauderdale, near the airport. I have been there at least eight times to search out the anis, always without success. It seems to be a matter of luck. So an opportunity of a dependable bird was enticing. reports seemed to indicate it was easily found along the trail in the morning and was not very shy.  See the link below for a photo of it.
Well we looked for about four hours in a morning and afternoon session. A volunteer at the park commented that it seemed the bird came out late and she had a photo of the bird she had taken yesturday. She also commented on when the bird arrived it was the greeted by a great many of birders and cameras.
Did get some good looks at several Purple Gallenules, and a great many wading birds.  There were a few tree swallows, but did notice a single Purple Martin. Had a fly over of a White-Tailed Kite, and had to be a hundred Black Vutures hanging around and unafraid of all the people.  Fact is most of the animal life here were people friendly.
The Gumbo Limbo Trail was a bit birdy.  Had the usual Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Cardinals, a couple of Black & White Wablers, a Black-Throated Green Warbler and a Louisania Waterthrush.
Drove all the way down to Flamingo to look for the American Crocodiles, but it being a wet cloudy day, they were not sun bathing along the canal by the marina. Not much else was around either. A couple of Osprey and a few laughing Gulls.  An American White Pelican could be seen out in the bay and several Brown Pelicans were resting in the mangroves.
Because of the time wasted looking for the ani and the inclement weather, we blew off the trip over to Key Biscayne and headed for home. Did find a flock of about 40 Common Mynas in Homestead as we were gassing up the car.
My total day count was 60
My list - Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, Laughing Gull, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, American Crow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Common Myna, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, White-winged Dove, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Purple Gallinule 
Eastern Phoebe
Northern Cardinal

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Wood Stork

Juvenile Wood Stork

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron

Black Vultures

Lots of Gators

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