Monday, March 17, 2014

Suburban Miami for ABA Birds and Exotics (Part 2)

More suburban Miami birding.

SATURDAY (continued)

From the Strip Malls in the morning to 'Disney Birding' in the afternoon ... at least that's what Carlos said.

Having hit our targets in the morning in suburban Miami we headed North into Palm Beach County in the afternoon.  There was actually an ABA bird for me to chase there, the recently accepted Nanday Parakeet, but we also planned to do some shameless year-listing at the 'Disney-like' birding spots in the county.

I don't love these places, the crowds of weekend birders on the boardwalks are a little ... hmmm ... awkward, and I've never loved places where crowd gather to wander and chat in a birding spot.  Still,  we had time to kill and we hoped to see some year birds while waiting for the parakeets.  First stop was the Green Cay Wetlands & Nature Center where the predictable crowds of birders over the age of 70 were strolling around the boardwalks causing traffic jams near every basking alligator or close great egret.  We did get good birds, adding Mottled Ducks, Wood Storks, Anhingas, Least Bittern, Purple Gallinule, and lots of Soras.  Best nature sighting at this spot was a very confiding River Otter which posed for photographs close to the boardwalk.  There were crowds, lots of chatter, and the whole place did feel like a theme park, but the wildlife was tame .... and close.  I won't post any point-blank photos of herons or egrets (OK, just a few) ...

Wood Stork (I feel bad for posting this, but it's Florida) ...
American Bittern (they look colder in New York) ...
River Otter (two shots)

Then on to Wakodahatchee Wetlands where we added some Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, more close herons and a surprise (for me) Neotropic Cormorant.  Apparently this bird has been around for a while and was overlooked for quite a while before being identified from photos taken by a New York birder.  Nice to see one in full breeding plumage, close to the ... cough ... boardwalk.

Neotropic Cormorant in full-on breeding plumage, close to the board walk.
Ignored by almost all the birders present that day .....
This spot also gave me an ABA bird.  We were supposedly killing time before going to see some Nanday Parakeets at a known roost site nearby, but while we were there we had some fly-over Nandays.  Just as well as it turns out as the roost site turned out to be a dud later in the evening.  Great add to the ABA list.

Nanday Parakeets, recently added to the ABA list.


So back to the Bulbuls at dawn and back to walking the suburban street of Kendall.  I always feel awkward walking suburan streets and using bins to stare into people's gardens.  I'm always expecting to hear sirens but perhaps the folks in this neighborhood are used to strange people with bins wandering their streets.  Even so I'm almost manically friendly to anyone we encounter - cheerful 'good mornings' at uncomfortably loud volumes.  Amazed that I haven't been jailed.

Bulbuls however were not cooperating so we gave up after an hour and tried another area a little to the North.  We did add a few more warbler species in a truly tiny patch of native vegetation, and added another introduced parrot (by now you know I love them) when some Monk Parakeets flew over.  Still, after another hour of searching we were still drawing a blank, and then 'as if by magic' two Red-Whiskered Bulbuls flew silently over us (a few feet over our head) and flew on, vanishing into tall trees behind houses.  Crappy, but diagnostic, views (red vents), and even though we could have kept searching for better views I'd frankly had enough of the suburbs and it was time to move on.

Not a Short-tailed Hawk even though it showed a classic Short-tailed Hawk field mark - soaring
with Turkey and Black Vultures.   Turns out at Broad-winged Hawks winter in South Florida too.
So onwards and back to Matheson hoping for Short-tailed Hawk.  Perhaps they'd moved on already and, despite a couple of Broad-winged Hawks joining the vulture kettles, we skunked on that local goodie.  We did hear some Orange-winged Parrots but couldn't get a view as they passed over, and got another look at the La Sagra's Flycatcher, but we were running out of options and I pushed Carlos to bug a friend of his who was rumored to have Shiny Cowbirds at his feeder.  So Carlos made the call and, after a stop for excellent Peruvian Seafood (hey I was on vacation) we headed off to Homestead on a cowbird hunt.

Shiny Cowbird (hiding behind Red-winged Blackbird) in Homestead.
The cowbird hunt is detailed in a  previous post so I won't repeat but Shiny Cowbird was a good bird to add for the state and the ABA.  After that, I was starting to get fatigued (we aren't used to sun in New York) so after a quick stop for shorebirds (and a shocking number, 40+, of Lesser Black-backed Gulls ... who knew ... ) I called the trip and headed back to the hotel.  Great trip, good birds, great guiding from Carlos.  A very nice way to spend a weekend away from New York.

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