Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thick-billed Vireo

We were up early on Wednesday morning to make the drive from Coral Gables to Key Biscayne.  Even though we started on Old Cutler Rd. to try to avoid the rush hour traffic on Route #1, we still found the going very slow because of all the schools along the road.  Once we were back on Route #1 it was even worse.  We had left our motel at 7:15 thinking we could make it to Bill Baggs by 8 AM.  We finally arrived there about 8:30.  We went straight to where a thick-billed vireo has been seen regularly for over a month. 

There were very few birds about except for the occasional cardinal or catbird.  We kept listening for its call, and then Doreene thought she picked it up.  We kept listening and soon the vireo appeared about 40 feet away from us in a bushy plant.  We watched it for about 5 minutes before it moved out of sight.  We continued to hear it calling off and on for the next 15-20 minutes, but it never came out in the open again.  I could not get any photos, but I have added the photo above taken by Todd McGrath, a birder I know (click on any photo to enlarge).  I will explain in a following post how I knew that Todd had a photo of this bird.  We also enjoyed finding one of the many types of iguanas found in Florida.

About 10 AM we decided to leave Bill Baggs and made our way down to Florida City which is near Everglades NP.  We stopped enroute to try out the Pollo Tropical chicken which proved to be very tasty.  This is one of the chains you can find now in southern California, southern Texas and southern Florida that specializes in marinating chicken with a fruit juice based marinade, and then grilling it.  I am assuming that this concept comes out of Mexico and has taken hold in these areas.

We checked into our motel and took a short break before driving to Everglades NP.  We visited the Anhinga Trail first and were surprised at how few birds we found.  Those that were still in the area were very cooperative.

There was no shortage of alligators.

We next stopped at Mahogany Hammock to stroll the boardwalk.  It also was mostly birdless other than 3 migrant warblers (black-throated green, black and white, and parula), 2 great-crested flycatchers, and a lovely breeding plumage red-bellied woodpecker.

We headed on down to Flamingo to see what might be around.  At Eco Pond we found several painted buntings, 2 orchard orioles and lots of catbirds.  The tide was high, so no chance for shorebirds.  We drove back to Florida City to eat dinner and get to bed early to be ready to start out the next morning at 5:30 to make the drive to Key West to look for a western spindalis.  Stay tuned!

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