Monday, April 24, 2017

The Keys

Monday April 24th

Today's weather is warmer and dryer and the traffic on U.S. 1, heading toward Key West was very light. Started on Key Largo with stops at Crayfords Circle and Key Largo Hammock State Park. were very light on birds.  Mostly White-eyed Vireos, Palm Warblers and Cardinals. But did get ticks on two target birds - Black-whiskered Vireo and White-crowned Pigeon.

Gray Kingbirds were everywhere

Green Iguana

Next target were the sightings of a Bahama Mockingbird and a Western Spindalis feeding in a particular ficus tree in the parking lot of Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park. Arriving at about 9:30 am, noticed that a crowd of birders were stacking out the site. Seems they were a no show today.
So its time to move on.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo

 Next stop was Long Key State Park, were a recent sighting of a LaSarga Flycatcher, a vagrant from the Caribbean, was reported.  Not much was on hand here though, but had an interesting sighting of a lizard called a Six lined Racerunner.

Finally arrived at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West about 2 pm where a nice variety of migrants were on hand including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Dickcissel, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Cape May Warblers, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Cape May Warbler, American Redstart, Blackpoll Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Least Terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Indigo Bunting and Gray Kingbird. Green Iguanas were also common.

Indigo Bunting
From Key West I headed back toward Marathon, in the Middle Keys, because Roseate Terns are just now arriving here for nesting.  This is a pelagic species that basically are arriving from the Caribbean and few pairs will be nesting on the roof of the Marathon Government Buildings.  This afternoon, none were seen. Maybe too early.

The other reason to visit Marathon is to locate another off-shore species, the Antillean Nighthawk which can be seen at the Marathon Airport in the spring and early summer. Stacked out a spot near the northern end of the airport to wait on sundown for the nighthawk to become active. Around 8 pm its distinctive call could be heard, but this bird did not take flight over this end of the airport property.

This young bird maybe a Black-whiskered Vireo

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