Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vermilion Flycatcher in South Florida.

Wednesday, December 14th

A male Vermilion Flycatcher
Elected to run solo on a visit to Dade County, particularly to locate the Vermilion Flycatchers at the C-111 canal near the Everglades National Park. I had a number of target species in mind as well, including white-tailed kite, swainson's hawk, red-whiskered bulbul, bronzed cowbirds, purple gallinule and any ducks, sparrows or exotic species.

Left home about 5am for the long drive across the Tamiami Trail (US41) for my first of several spots I had planned on. By 8am I was in the parking lot of LaCarret's Restaurant on SW 40th Ave. It was very busy there with the expected urban birds, Grackles, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Starlings, Ring-billed Gulls, Eurasian Collared Doves, but the bronzed cowbirds were a no-show while I was there.
Egyptian Geese at Kendell Baptist Hospital campus

Mitred Parakeet

Next was the Neighborhood north of Kendell Baptist Hospital. Patrolled the area in search of red-whiskered bulbuls.  Did not find them but did get Loggerhead Shrikes Northern Mockingbirds, Blue jays, Monk Parakeets and Mitred Parakeets.  At the hospital campus it was very quite until the Mitred Parakeets showed up, briefly, till a flock of Fish Crows disturbed them. A pair of Egyptian Geese and Muscovy Ducks were by the ponds and a Red-tailed Hawk flew over head.

Was interested in locating any addition parrot species. So next moved onto Matheson Park in Coral Gables, were it was very quite too. Looked for any birds, besides the parrots and hill mynas I was interested in. Best I found was a herd of cats. At this point it was starting to get very windy which is not good on a birding trip.

Next traveled south down Old Cutler Road toward Black Point Park. Kept an eye out along Old Cutler Road for any interesting sightings like peafowl or other exotics. At Black Point I was interested in any sea birds. Found the usual gulls, pelicans and cormorants. Best bird was a Spotted Sandpiper.  Next stopped at the nearby Dump Marsh and Cutler Wetlands.  The dump marsh had several Mottled Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, a few American Wigeons and a lone Gadwall and Red-breasted Merganser. Lots of Coots and several Common Gallinules. Heard later that lesser nighthawks and barn owls have been seen here recently.
Spotted Sandpiper at Black Point Park

At Cutler Wetlands the lighting was very bad. Missed out on identifying a few species because of the lighting, but did get a Herring Gull, American White Pelicans, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled ducks, more Coots and Common Gallinules. Had three Greater Yellowlegs and a single Lesser Yellowlegs too.

Gassed-up and had lunch in Homestead were I searched for any white-winged doves or common mynas.  But the winds were very gusty and no doubt the birds were sheltered somewhere out of sight.

Now it was time to locate the Vermilion Flycatcathers at C-111 Canal. Easily located one of them. These birds are not seen very often in south Florida. A few can be found wintering in the pan handle, but it was very conveint for a pair to show up here. It was a a LIFER.

Purple Gallinule
Just down the road is The Annex and Lucky Hammock. Again the winds really hampered birding. Did find the reported Western Kingbird and three Scissor-tailed Flycatchers on the fence bordering the main road. But seems that the small birds were hunkered down in the shrubs and grasses.  Did not even see or hear any catbirds or cardinals. Normally this is a good location for wintering raptors and was still so today. Had a couple of Northern Harriers, three American Kestrels, a Swainson's Hawk, a Red-tailed Hawk, a pair of Red-shouldered hawks, another pair of Short-tailed Hawks and a lot of Turkey Vultures with a few Black Vultures mixed in. Did dip on the white-tailed kite.

Purple Gallinule

Highlights in Everglades National Park, included a Purple Gallinule and several Anhingas on the Anhinga Trail, Green-winged Teal at Mrezek Pond, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers at Eco Pond and at Flamingo had hundreds of Laughing Gulls, several Osprey including one being harassed by a Bald Eagle and a Red-brested Merganser. Out in the bay could be seen several American White Pelican and Black Skimmers. An American Crocodile was seen at the marina.

From here headed for home with brief rechecks at Lucky hammock and C-111 for white-tailed kite.  Still dipped, so headed for home.

Loggerhead Shrike at C-111

Pied-billed Grebe at Mrezak Pond

Black Vulture at Nine-mile Pond.

Day's List (68)
Egyptian Goose, Muscovy Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican,
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures,
Osprey, Bald eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Killdeer, Spotted sandpiper, Great Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Mitred Parakeet, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, VERMILION FLYCATCHER, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, palm Warbler, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed cowbird and House sparrow.
Reptiles (2) American Alligator, American Crocodile


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry about the deleted comment, I made a mistake...very nice post Tom, I hope to see the gallinule soon, it's one of many on my wish list. You've got many nice shots, looks like a very eventful day for you. I'm making note of the places you visited. Congrats on the vermillion flycatcher, awesome!