Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Cormorant at Bill Baggs State Park in Miami

Wednesday, January 11th

Lighthouse at Bill Baggs State Park
Headed out to Miami and other sites in Dade County to seek out some rarities to Florida.  An immature Great Cormorant has made a home for itself near the lighthouse at Bill Baggs State Park at Key Biscayne. This guy is way south of its winter range and a rarity here. A LaSagra Flycatcher, a bird from the Bahamas, has also made a home in the park.
Great Cormorant

Almost changed my plans when I checked the weather for the day before leaving home. Afternoon showers were a possibility.  I hit the road anyway. This included attempting to travel through Miami during the morning rush hour. Arrived at Bill Baggs later than I had planned and found it was very windy.  A condition that lasted about all day. A search for the lasagra's flycatcher was unfulfilled and there was almost no bird activity at all, save the beach. Here the Great Cormorant was easily located at its favorite spot on the rock jetty next to the lighthouse.  A LIFER!! Was able to lots of laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, a couple of Semipalmated Plovers, a Piping Plover and a couple of Magnificent Frigatebirds.
Swan Geese

Next checked out Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables. It too had virtually no birding activity while I was there. At Kendell Baptist Hospital a flock of about forty or more Mitred Parakeets noisily moved about the campus. The ponds had many Muscovy Ducks and some strange looking duck hybrids, plus many American Coots, White Ibis, Ring-billed Gulls and four Swan Geese. Also observed a Coopers Hawk dive at some prey.

From Kendell headed toward Everglades National Park. There are several interesting birds wintering in the area there. At a pit stop in Florida City , I was able to add a couple of Common Mynas. The windy conditions continues into the afternoon and rain appeared to be more imminent. These conditions spoiled the locating of birds like vermilion flycatchers at C-111 canal and the scissor-tailed and ash-throated flycatchers at Lucky Hammock, just outside of the park entrance. Was able to add American Kestrels, a Northern Harrier and countless , mostly, Black Vultures.

Purple Gallinule at Royal Hammock

Great Blue Heron at Royal Hammock

Entered Everglades National Park and first checked out Research Road for any white-tailed kites.  However only found some American Crows and more Kestrels. Then went to the Anhinga Trail at Royal Hammock and found the expected waders, Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants. Plus a Purple Gallinule.  Also heard a Barred Owl calling at the Gunbo Limbo Trail.
    Started heading back home, but had to recheck Lucky Hammock and C-111.  As the winds have calmed down, birding did improve. At C-111 I was able to locate one of the male Vermilion Flycatchers and the immature Swainson's Hawk that has been hanging in the area. My attempts to photograph these birds did not come too well, but birder and photographer Trey Mitchell posted beautiful pics on the TAS web site, taken the same day I was there.
The recheck at Lucky hammock still missed the ash-throated and scissor-tailed flycatchers, but did add a Broad-winged Hawk.  From here I could have waited the hour or two for sunset to try for lesser nighthawks, whip-poor-wills and owls, however there was still had a three hour drive home. Got some good ticks today, but missed on more, so I will have to return soon.

Day's Count (60)
Muscovy Duck, Swan Goose, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Magnificent Frigatebird, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Anhinga, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, Killdeer, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Royal Tern, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Monk Parakeet, Mitred Parakeet, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe,  Vermilion Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, American Crow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Common Myna, European Starling, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow

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