Sunday, June 15, 2014

Birding the Florida Keys and Miami

June 9th
Day One - The Keys
Bob Pelkey picked me up at Three AM for our annual birding trip to the Florida Keys.  This year we added a day to visit Dry Tortugas National Park. Our goals for this trip were for birds primarily found in the Keys including White-crown Pigeon, Rosette Tern, Antillean Nighthawk, Black-whiskered Vireo, Brown Noddy, Masked Booby and Shiny Cowbird.

Card Sound Road
White-crowned Pigeon
Our early start was timed for an arrival at sunrise at the Card Sound Road toll booth. This location can be an excellent location for finding Black-whiskered Vireo and Cuban Golden Warblers.  This warbler is a Caribbean subspecies of the Yellow Warbler and its only U.S. range is in the mangroves of the Florida Keys. So we expected to find and photograph these birds, but upon arrival found that the location had been taken over by KZK Productions for filming a new series forNetflix. We did manage to hear Prairie Warbler and a Black-whiskered Vireo as we moved on.
The next stop was three down the road just before Sound Card Road meets 905. Here we were looking for a neotropic cormorant that had been reported at this location for the past three days. We didn't see any cormorants at all, but had good showings of White-crowned Pigeon, Green
Common Nighthawk
Herons, Gray Kingbird
and a very cooperative Common Nighthawk.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park 
Next stop was on Key Largo near were 905 intersects with Highway 1. Dangy Johnson can be a good location for Mangrove Cuckoo and Black-whiskered Vireo.  I've seen both here in the past, but not today. Did sight White-crowned Pigeon,
A young White-eyed Vire
White-eyed Vireo
and heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Bob also located an interesting lizard called a Bark Anole.                                                                                                                                  
Bark Anole

Marathon Government Buildings
Nesting Rosette Terns along with nesting Least Terns can be found this time of year around the Marathon Government Complex. We were succesfull, finally, in locating a targeted species with seeing the Rosette Terns. Magnificent Frigetbirds, Least Terns and Laughing Gulls were also seen here.
Rosette Terns in Marathon
Curry Hammock State Park
Curry Hammock is a small park with access on Little Crawl Key and is know for the annual Fall Hawk Watch located here. We did not see much on our stop. A Gray Kingbird posed for us and a couple of Ground Doves were active, but mostly the activity we saw were the basking Green Iguanas.
Gray Kingbird

Adult Green Iguana

Juvinile Green Iguana

Large Green Iguana
Key West and Ft Taylor State Park
Arriving in Key West around noon we scouted out the island and stopped at Ft Zackary Taylor State Park.  Found the park fairly quiet. A few White-crowned Pigeons, Least Terns and Common Grackles. Would have been nice to find some Caribbean vagrants but mostly found more Green Iguana. On the island we saw lots of the Key West chickens, Gray Kingbirds, White-crowned Pigeons and White-winged Doves.
A scene from Ft Taylor

White-crowned Pigeon

Green Iguana
Middle Torch Key
Made a stop on Middle Torch Key Road, after leaving Key West as we were returning to Marathon, to look for Black-whiskered Vireos, which we did find along with more Gray Kingbirds and a Key Deer.
Key Deer in velvet

Black-whiskered Vireo
Marathon Airport
Bob Pelkey waiting for the nighthawks to arrive
After checking into the motel in Marathon and getting some rest, we headed over to the nearby airport to await the arrival of any Antillean Nighthawks at sun down. As we waited several Laughing Gulls passed by, plus more White-crowned Pigeons, Kingbirds, Least Tern and even an unidentified parrot. Finally at seven forty-five we first heard then spotted a lone Antillean Nighthawk soaring above the airport runway. But it quickly left the area toward the northeast. By eight o'clock a pair of Antillean Nighthawks appeared, again, briefly, which ended the day's birding.

1 comment:

  1. Well Tom, the Neotropic Cormorant may have been present after all. During your walk from the parked car at Card Sound Road and 905, you flushed what I thought was a double-crested which flew from the west to east. The bird remained very low over the water. A photograph was impossible.