Friday, April 30, 2010
Our day began in Key West where we went to Fort Zachary Taylor again to see if anything might be coming in there. We checked the docks just outside the park first and found 4 roseate terns preening themselves. They looked very sharp with a faint pink hue on their breasts. Inside the fort area we mostly saw several warbler species. We also ran into the VENT tour group, and the Kansas tour group again.
We then began the drive up the keys towards Florida City. We kept looking out for the Wurdemann's form of the great blue heron, but only found the white form plus a couple of regular great blues. We did find a very nice reddish egret. Also some shorebirds including semipalmated, black-bellied and american golden plovers, ruddy turnstones, killdeer and willets.
As we were driving down a side road looking for the Wurdemann's we kept hearing a noise that sounded like a rock stuck in one of the tire's treads. Stopping to check it out, we found instead a screw that somehow had penetrated the tread. We went straight to a place nearby that was able to pull the screw and plug the hole. On a toasty, humid day in the keys, having a flat tire to deal with would have been no fun, so we felt fortunate to have discovered the potential problem before it ruined our day.
We stopped at a very small place to try some Cuban food. We had a shrimp, peppers and rice dish, a shredded chicken dish, cuban tamales and water. Simple and satisfying. It was so much better than the barbeque from the nite before that professed to know how to make North Carolina BBQ, and failed miserably.
Because the past 2 nites we had only heard the antillean nighthawk at the airport in Key West, we decided to try one more time, but at the Marathon airport. We sat and chatted in the airport parking lot waiting for dusk. At 7:45 we started looking and listening closely for the bird. The first nighthawk to show up was a common that we heard calling and saw fly off. A few minutes later we heard the different call of the antillean, and then found the bird flying over the runway. We watched it for about 10 minutes and then jumped into the Tacoma for the 75 mile ride back up to Florida City.
I did not get any new bird shots today so instead there is a photo of a very large turtle we saw in the Everglades. I am sorry but I do not know what kind of turtle it is.
Today is April 30th, and the end of month four of this big year. I ran into Bob Ake, another person doing a big year, yesterday at the Key West airport. I had first met him at Bentsen SP in Texas in March. He is doing a full ABA area (all of North America above Mexico) big year. We chatted about how we thought the year was going for each of us. He seemed fairly pleased with his effort so far. Like me he has passed the 500 birds seen mark. This weekend he is out at the Dry Tortugas and will find more new year birds.
I told him I was pleased with my results so far. As I told my friend from NC who is birding with me this week, I had a good sense of how I thought the overall year would go, and in turn the number of different bird species that I could reasonably see (600). But I had not really expected to break 500 birds in only 4 months of birding.
The 1st day of week 18 ended with 56 bird species seen, and the antillean nighthawk is also a new year bird bringing the YTD total to 520. Tomorrow we are going to drive up to Merritt Island NWR to look for shorebirds, particularly white-rumped sandpiper. Stay tuned!