Sunday, November 27, 2016

Western Birds in South Florida

A Quick Trip to Miami-Dade County Florida

Just back from a lightening, two-day, trip to South Florida where I met Madeira bird guides and old friends Hugo Romano and Catarina Fagundes, and local birding expert Carlos Sanchez for a brief, but very birdy weekend.

I had no real targets for this trip, and with no Caribbean rarities around I was just looking for a good few days of birding and a change of scenery.  As it turns out, the highlights were mostly Western vagrants and scarce Western wintering birds.  Added six new birds to my Florida State List and had a great time.  A few photos below ....

Best bird of the trip by far was a BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD, a species I'd seen only once before in Texas.  This bird, a great bird for Florida, was unfortunately not very photogenic, staying largely inside a dense tangle of flowering shrubs, but we did get good views and enjoyed a nice hour with three species of hummingbirds (the Buff-bellied, a couple of RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS, and a lot of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds) at a small park South of Miami.

Rufous Hummingbird, immature male.
While we were at the hummingbird site we got word of a WESTERN SPINDALIS (which would have been an ABA bird for me) just re-found by Rangel Diaz, but unfortunately had to wait for Saturday morning for access to the site.  There bright an early, we joined a gaggle of locals hoping to see the bird but after three hours we had to admit defeat, drawing a consolation prize with a local WESTERN TANAGER, not a bad bird for Florida even if it wasn't the hoped for super-rarity.

Western Tanager
Another treat, which took several attempts to see but ended up surrendering, were a group of Burrowing Owls at a local airport.  We also managed to get a few other 'goodies" with two SHORT-TAILED HAWKS and a couple of BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS.

Burrowing Owls
In addition to the rarities, Florida always provides a great opportunity to see local specialties up close ...

Tri-colored Heron (above) / White Ibis (below)

Bronzed Cowbird (above) / White-crowned Pigeon (below) 

And also a rare chance to go to the beach in shorts ....

Royal Tern (above) / Lesser Black-Backed Gulls (below)