Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 50--A Good Birding Day in South Florida

As seems to be pretty much the norm now, I was up at 5:30 AM and heading to my first stop by 6:15. I went to a nursing home located near the Miami airport to look for monk parakeets that roost there. As I pulled in I heard them flying around, but did not get a good enough look in low light to confirm that the birds were in fact monk parakeets. So I will need to try again maybe on Sunday.

From there I headed down to the Kendall area of Miami to look again for the red whiskered bulbul. I wandered around an elementary school for a couple of hours because it is the current best place to locate this rarity. The 1st half hour or so the kids were filtering into school. In this day and age I was a little bit worried that someone might wonder about a guy hanging around an elementary school, but fortunately no one questioned me about it. I saw some yellow chevroned parakeets, plus a few other birds, but no bulbuls.

From there I drove out the Tamiami Trail (Hwy 41) in search of snail kites that have been scarce so far this winter. No luck on that one either, but I did spend a very enjoyable hour at Shark Valley which is part of Everglades NP. This is a photographer's paradise as the birds are quite used to humans, so they don't spook. In 10 minutes I saw every kind of heron there is to see in the US. I also saw 2 purple gallinules (see top picture above) which are always fun because they are so colorful.

From there I drove on up to Corkscrew Swamp--a National Audubon Society preserve. This place is one of the nicer places to bird. You roam thru a swamp on a good boardwalk checking out all the flora and fauna. There was a feeder station by the entrance building where I was able to get pictures of painted buntings and a shiny cowbird (see the 2nd and 3rd photos above). The latter is another Florida specialty that is not easy to track down, particularly this early in the year. The painted buntings were also a surprise. I actually saw 2 other buntings down near Shark Valley earlier in the day. As you can see from the picture, the painted bunting is aptly named since the male has so many different colors.

I finished the day with 51 birds for the new week, of which 5 were new birds for the year bringing that total to 309. Tomorrow I am going to spend the morning at Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island which is one of the very 1st places I birded back in the early 70's. There should be some good birds there tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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