Sunday, February 21, 2010
No Longer Snail Kiteless
Well, I would have to say that today was another red letter day. Not only did I finally pick up a snail kite, but I also found a pair of white-tailed kites. I had a chance at a trifecta if a swallow-tailed kite had shown up, but then that might have been just a bit greedy. Instead, I saw another smooth-billed ani which arrived at Anhinga Trail 2 days ago, and at dusk I saw a beautiful, oddly colored (mottled) barn owl.
But to back up, I began the day at dawn in Everglades NP at Anhinga Trail. I had checked the Tropical Audubon Society web site last night and found that snail kites were roosting there. So at dawn I was there to see if I might see them leave the roost. That did not happen, but I did meet a very nice young guy who was taking pictures, and who knew the woman who had put the roosting info on the website. He told me about another possible place to find them--Hidden Lake which is close to Anhinga Trail.
He also told me why there are signs warning that the vultures might damage your car while it is parked. It turns out that the black vultures above sometimes are attracted to some smell that is emitted from the rubber in windshield wipers and the rubber around car windows. So they will tear into the wiper blades, etc. How weird is that? Fortunately I did not have any trouble with the vultures today.
I spent an hour at Hidden Lake this morning, thoroughly loving the beauty and quiet of the place. I did not see a snail kite this AM, but when I returned this afternoon my luck changed. A male flew in, swooped down to pick up a snail, and then flew on. As I was walking back to my truck, I also heard 2 great horned owls "talking" to each other. Since I had seen the snail kite, I did not stay for the dusk roosting at Anhinga Trail, and instead went to a close by location to check for short-eared and barn owls. While waiting for the owls I saw an osprey, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, a kestrel and several northern harriers. A couple of birders from the Miami area came by and confirmed that 5 snail kites had come in to roost at Anhinga Trail.
I drove back into Miami in the dark feeling great about the day. 4 YTD birds were added, and 11 birds were new for the week. Tomorrow I get on a plane to go to Oklahoma to do some winter birding. Could a smith's longspur be in my future? Stay tuned!