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Birders,
  We just returned from 2 days of birding the middle and upper keys and
must report disappointing results.  We first went to the Hawk Watch
counting station at Curry Hammocks (MM 56) arriving about 11:30 AM.  They
were counting up a storm - sharp shins & broad wings mostly, but we too
busy to explain to us how to identify souring raptors (I couldn't even
see the specks in the sky they were identifying!).  Next year I will have
to skip a weekend of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and attend the
Raptor ID Seminar during the FL Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival when
they have planned time to explain the nuances of identification.  They
did release 2 "canned" (banded) raptors so we got a close up view of a
Coopers and immature red shouldered hawk. After 1.5 hours of getting in
the way we set off on our own following Bill Pranty's ABA Birding Guide
to FL . Unfortunately the drawbridge to Boot Key, another prime raptor
viewing spot, was stuck in the up position (I wonder how the residents
cope with that!). We stopped at various spots up to Big Pine Key and the
Key Deer NWR where we saw 3 deer (yeh!!) and some well behaved local
birds - 5 Osprey and 3 immature red shouldered hawks.
  We decided to give up on hawks and head back to Key Largo to check out
the State Botanical Site from US 1 to Card Sound Bridge.  You need to get
a permit to walk the old  county road 905. To obtain a permit  stop at
Pennekamp during business hours Monday through Friday.  Call 305-451-1202
and ask for Jim Duquesnel or Yolanda Stites. Eileen Davis can also help
you. These people are extremely friendly and helpful. Please let friends
know that permit applications are only processed on weekdays. Weekend
requests are not handled until Monday, except for exceptions when one of
them just happens to be in on the weekend. (Dotty, if this sounds
familiar I copied most of it from your April posting)
  Well from 8:30 to 5:50 we only identified 24 species and nearly no
migrating warblers. We did log one lifer - the white crowned pigeon!  Jim
Duquesnel, the Pennecamp ranger, said our other target birds (mangrove
cuckoo and whisker vireo) were there only April - Aug, so we need to come
back in the spring.  We'll try to do that if we can fit it in between an
Elderhostel trip to Mexico and a spring trip to SE Arizona.

John & Chadda Shelly,  Boca Raton (S. Palm Beach Co.)