Sunday, July 23, 2023

Fall Migration Starts

 Sunday July 23rd

Wilson's Phalarope
Its time again to head to the Everglades Ag Area south of Lake Okeechobee to explore the flooded sugar cane fields and the sod farm for migrating grass peeps, swallows, shorebirds, terns, gulls and more. 
It was nice to find Wilson's Phalarope, Stilt Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, American Avocets, Cave Swallows, Least Sandpipers, 

eBird Checklist - 23 Jul 2023 - Gladeview Rd. - 26 species

American Avocet

Stilt Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper 

Least Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitchers

Friday, July 14, 2023

Swallow-tailed Kites

 Friday July 14th

One of our most favorite birds are the Swallow-tailed Kites. Often seen soaring tree top high as they search for their next meal. A beautiful delicate looking white and black raptor that arrives in Florida around the end of February. 

That is when small numbers emigrate from Central and South American population to nest in the American Southeast. By July, after nesting, we see these birds gathering in roosts and in impressive kettles, before their return to the wintering grounds in Brazil. Most will be gone by the end of July.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Some Yard Birds

 Sunday, June 11th

Some recent yard bird photos

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Muscovy Duck

European Starling

Fledgling Starling

Blue Jay

Blue Jay



Common Grackle

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove

The Muscovy getting too comfortable.

Somebody Lost Thier Pet Budgie

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Florida Keys

 May 12th

On a recent trip down to The Keys. I had gone to the Dry Tortugas but did some birding around the Keys a bit in the Miami area.  Target birds that lures birders to the Keys included Roseate Terns, Antillian Nighthawks, White-crowned Pigeons, Gray Kingbirds and Black-whiskered Vireos.

Marathon can be a good location for the terns and nighthawks. Historically Roseate Terns nest on the roof of the Marathon Government Center. I dipped on the terns as had some of my friends. Not sure why we couldn't find them then, but they have been reported. Plenty of Least Terns nesting on the roof of the building. There are a number of locations around the Keys to find them. At Marathon, be at the Marathon Airport at sundown. This year we had a pair of Antillean Nighthawks flying over the airport with Common Nighthawks to give contrast to the sights and sounds of the two species.

Key Deer
a diminutive subspecies of white-tailed deer found mostly on Big Pine Key

At Fort Zachiary Taylor State Park on Key West is a place to look for migrating birds and Carribean vagrants. I lucked out with spotting a rare Fork-tailed Flycatcher. As I was walking the path along the moat, a black & white bird trailing a very long tail fly overhead. I immediately considered it to be a fork-tailed flycatcher and dismissed it because of its rarity and lack of any prior reporting from here. But other birders in the park were seeing and photographing the bird. Seems only a handful of folks who were already on site spotted the bird which quickly disappeared.
Other species seen here included several Black-throated Blue Warblers, American Redstarts, Bay breasted Warbler, Dickcissels, White-crowned Pigeons, Gray Kingbirds, Ovenbirds, Black-whiskered Vireo.

Egyptian Goose at Kendall Baptist Hospital

Egyptian Goose goslings at Kendall Baptist

On my final day on this trip I checked out what's happening at Pine Woods Park and Mathesson Hammock Park in Miami-Dade. At Pine Woods Park the Scaly-breasted Munies were easy to find and a Red-whiskered Bulbul was seen along with a pair of nesting Monk Parakeets. Mathesson was a bit quiet. Spotted a red-masked Parakeet pocking its head out of a nest hole and an Orange-winged Parrot doing the same. Its also a place to look for reptiles. Today we had lots of Green Iguanas, African Agamis and Curly tailed Lizards.

Common Yellowthroat up in an
Australian Pine at Ft Zachiary Taylor State Park in Key West

Fork-tailed Flycatcher
made a surprising and very brief visit to Fort Zachiary Talyor

White-crowned Pigeon
Fort Zachiary Taylor, Key West

Red-masked Parakeet at Matthesen Hammock Park in Coral Gables

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Harns Marsh

Thursday, June 1st

Made my monthly
visit to Harns Marsh as a part of my Lee County Bird Patrol assignment. Even with some recent heavy rain, the water levels were still very low. The canals were almost dry. Won't be long till the rains of summer fill them up.

It was fun getting watch a trio of river otters as they were fishing for their breakfast.  

Had several Florida Sandhill Cranes including an adolescent colt. A female Snail Kite was hanging out near the start of the trail. As I was leaving researchers from the University of Florida were on hand to do a survey on the kites.

Other sightings included Little Blue Herons, Mottled Ducks, Black-crowned Night-heron, Gray-headed Swamphens, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Common Gallinules, Limpkins and Anhingas 

Little Blue Heron

Gray-headed Swamphen

Black-crowned Night-heron

Common Gallinule



Snail Kite

Snail Kite

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park

 Thursday May 18th

Great White Egret

The fully booked Yankee Freedom
left its mooring in Key West around 8am for the 70-mile sail to Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas. Today was Monday May 8th and like me there were several birders aboard heading to Fort Jefferson on Garden Key to enjoy some special birding opportunities.

eBird Checklist - 8 May 2023 - Dry Tortugas NP--Garden Key - 36 species

In April and May, the Tortugas can be a magnet for migrating birds seeking respite from the long flight across the Gulf of Mexico and nearby Keys are also hosting breeding colonies for Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Masked Boobies. 

Brown Noddy

Sooty Tern

Other passengers are also finding the birdlife interesting, but we can add the fascinating history of the Civil War Era Fort Jefferson.  Then add the opportunities to do some snorkeling the waters around Garden Key. 

As the Yankee Freedom sailed west, we left Key West behind and would pass the Marquesa Islands and the waters were treasure hunter Mel Fisher had located the some of the wreak of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and her riches.

On the sail to the Tortugas, I and several birds scanned the waters for any pelagic species. Dipped on spotted any of the expected Shearwaters. Mostly seen were frigatebirds and an unidentified jaeger. By 10:30 we had entered the boundary waters of the Dry Tortugas National Park and the boat's captain made a slow pass near to Hospital Key for the birders to get a look at and try to get photographs of the Masked Boobies nesting colony on the small sandy key. This small bit of sand is the only nesting site within the United States for the Masked Boobies. There were a few dozen present as well as around a dozen Brown Boobies. From here the air was filled with birds. Hundreds of Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Magnificent Frigatebirds have arrived here to nest on Bush Key.

We docked and exited the Yankee freedom to start our search for interesting birds. Had made acquaintance with some birders from Colorado, who were led by Nick Komar. Nick, I learned later was working on a Big Year and seemed to be having a great start. An interesting coincidence was that on my last visit here, I had made the acquaintance for with another pair of master birders from Colorado - John Vanderpoel and William Kaempfer, who had helped me with getting on my lifer view of a Black Noddy. 

Black Noddy

First headed toward the north coaling pilings looking for good shots of the Brown Noddies and sooty terns, plus the rare Black Noddies that rest on those pilings.  Got my tern and noddy pics but would have to go up to the top of fort to get the view needed to spot the Black Noddies. Which I was later able to do.

Bridle Tern

A trio of Bridle Terns were found near a closed off area at the concrete pad by the south pilings.  
Other sea birds seen included Rosette terns, Royal terns, Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls.

Inside the fort we found some of those interesting migrant birds. Common Nighthawk, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Wood Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Great White Egret, Belted Kingfisher, Ovenbird, cattle Egrets, a Green Egret, Bay-breasted Warbler, Indigo Buntings, Palm Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, American redstarts, Scarlet Tanager, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and Gray Catbirds. Had a few swallows too - Barn, Cliff and Bank were present.

We wrapped up our stay when the Yankee Freedom headed back to Key West around 3pm. Lots of tired folks after a day in the sun.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Indigo Bunting

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Common Nighthawk

Scarlet Tanager

American Redstart