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FLORIDABIRDS-L  October 2000

FLORIDABIRDS-L October 2000

Subject:

Florida Middle Keys (Oct 13-15)

From:

Ron Smith <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ron Smith <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 15 Oct 2000 17:30:22 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (15 lines)

            Drove down to Key Largo on Friday morning with Lori and the kids (Austin & Andrea).  We stayed at Pennekamp SP (tight quarters & terrible neighbors).  My primary goal was to visit Curry Hammock State Park and to see what all that "hawk & falcon" commotion was about that Derek Lovitch had posted about a week or so ago.  I was not disappointed.
            First off, the hawkwatch at Curry is manned by three capable and enthusiastic hawkwatchers; Derek, Jeff Mauer, and Casey Lott, who is the Project Director.  Though there weren't any record amounts of hawks, there were plenty to be seen and plenty to learn.  More on that later.
            After arriving at Pennekamp early Friday afternoon, I stood guard along one of the inlets, counting a few migrant hawks (Peregrines, Merlins, kestrels, and sharp-shinneds) while Austin (my 12-yr old son) caught mangrove and yellow-tail snapper hand over fist.  A few migrant passerines were around. but I didn't look too hard.  A pair of Painted Buntings, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a couple of American Redstarts, and a Northern Waterthrush made the list.  Behind our campsite - and don't EVER get #33, was a family of true, drunk country-music lovers.  They loved their Hank Williams, Jr. music loud, very LOUD.  It took two phone calls to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office to finally get the place under control - at 11:30 PM.  For those of you who have ever heard comedian Jeff Foxworthy's account of "Welcome back, Officer Mitchell!!!  Don't shoot!!!  If I layed down here on the sidewalk would you draw my picture with that little chalk ya'll have?  Hey Officer Mitchell, I thought you said you didn't want to come back out here again tonight."  The scenerio was almost to the word.  This family lives in the house directly behind this site.  Saturday night, however, we never heard a word from 'em.  Screech-owls purred us to sleep.
            On Saturday we spent approx. three and a half hours at Curry Hammock.  What we didn't know was that this weekend was the Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival.  We showed up, got to watch hawks grabbing "bait" from the banding blinds, Andrea released a female Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Austin, a male sharpie and a female Cooper's.   In the 3 1/2 hours I saw approx. 40 or so Sharp-shinneds, 15+ Coopers. ten or so Merlins, 20 kestrels, four Pergrine's, a half dozen Broad-winged Hawks, a light-morph Short-tailed Hawk, Northern Harriers, many Turkey Vultures, and two adult Bald Eagles.  Because of the wind direction, many birds were actually in reverse migration and traveling north back up the keys.  The offical counters make note of ALL birds, and direction of travel.
            ** special note - I almost had to call the sheriff's department again when we stopped at the Festival headquarters and saw whom I was sure was a trespasser.  He was later identified to be Wes Biggs, and he had the proper papers...
            Late Saturday afternoon found us on Boot Key where, due to the poor wind direction, the birds were few.  The fishing was good, though.  A late evening dinner at the Islamorada World Wide Sportman facility (recommended) and then we were back at the campsite.  No country music, but a great, Roger Clemens 1-hitter was worth listening to.
            On Sunday we stopped at the intersection of Redlands and Avocado in north Homestead and easily located two SMOOTH-BILLED ANI'S.  The first I've seen in many years; thanks Dave Goodwin and Sonny Bass.   We also saw a half dozen Snail Kites just east of the Miccosukee Indian Restaurant on US 41.  Our birds of prey count, including Black and Turkey Vulture and Crested Caracara was 16.

have a good one,

Ron Smith
St. Pete, FL
[log in to unmask]

            

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