Thursday, January 7, 2010
End of 1st week
It is day 7 in the evening. I am back from the whirlwind tour thru south Tx. and south Fl. Catching my breath, having a home cooked meal made by me with my wife before packing up my Tacoma pick-up to head north tomorrow.
My 36 hours in south Florida was quite chilly because of the deep freeze the eastern half of the US is experiencing this week. I tried for the La Sagra's flycatcher in the Everglades early on Wednesday morning. I arrived just after sunrise and fairly quickly thought I had lucked out only to find instead a great crested flycatcher. About 30 minutes later I thought I heard the call of the La Sagra's but never could find the bird in the trees. 90 minutes later I decided that I was not going to succeed. While waiting I had the good fortune to see 1st a dark morph short tailed hawk kettling with the vultures, and then a light morph showed up as well.
So it was about 10 am and I needed to decide what to do next--the "triage" process of how to best use your time during a big year. The La Sagra's would have been a good big year find, but it would also have been a life bird for me. I decided to drive up to the Melbourne area of Florida--about a 225 mile drive from where I was in the Everglades to see a male masked duck that had been in that area for a couple of weeks. This is another quite rare bird that shows up occasionally in both Tx and Fl. I also wanted to see my wife's brother and his family. En route I made a quick swing into a possible site for smooth billed anis but struck out on that bird also.
I arrived at the Viera Wetlands about 3 pm (a really great little area for birding--second photo), and found the masked duck in 10 minutes of searching. I watched it for at least 10 minutes feeding. This is one of those birds that is so much more dramatic in the wild than the picture in the field guides--rusty feathers, black mask and a bright blue bill (check it out in Wikipedia).
After dinner with my relatives I drove back to Miami to be able to fly out this am. I did get up early to try for the red-footed booby in Miami that was recently rehabilitated by the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station (first photo), and was still hanging out in the area after being released. My plane left to come back to NC at 10:40 am, so I did not have much time to look for the bird and ended up booby-less. Nevertheless, the 1st week went extremely well. I finished the week with 153 species seen. New England is up next for winter birds. Stay tuned!