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Hi all,

This weekend found me in southeast Florida.  I started out Saturday morning
at Key Largo Botanical site to look for the long gone pewee.  I didn't think
the pewee would be there, but I was hoping to ferret out a LaSagra's or at
least something.  The woods were dead, a few gnatcatchers, cardinals, and a
White-eyed vireo or two.  Dead woods would prove to be the norm for the
weekend.  It was an interesting site and I will probably be back.  I spent
the rest of the day bouncing like a pinball around the area making my way
back toward Palm Beach County.  I went over to the C111 canal outside the
Everglades National Park to try some woods birding.  This seems like a good
spot to hit in the morning.  By the time I got there, things were fairly
quiet.  I wandered around the agricultural fields of Florida City /
Homestead looking for hawks and whatever.  I checked the Chekika area of the
park.  More people than birds at this time.  Very little water as in most of
the park.  I did find a few birds at Matheson Hammock.  I went across the
road to the nature trail area for the first time ever.  Wow, there is a lot
more to the park than I ever knew about!  I went down a few trails, some of
which I don't think are official trails anymore.  I ran across a flock of
songbirds including a very noisy Worm-eating warbler, a Black-and-white, a
Black-throated blue (year bird), a parula and an Ovenbird.  We crossed paths
a few times after that as I tried to find my way back out of the hammock.
South of the park there were two pairs of Indian hill mynahs hooting and
hollering in the trees.  I heard and then saw five Yellow-chevroned
parakeets at the entrance to Fairchild Tropical Gardens (south of the park.)
Both of these are not "countable" but they are neat to see anyway.  I
decided to hit Greynold's Park in north Miami next to see what it was all
about.  I checked around the woods looking for Spot-breasted orioles, and
songbirds.  There was a redstart and a few Yellow-throated warblers as well
as the ubiquitous blue gray gnatcatchers.  I saw a Ruby-throated hummingbird
in the flowering trees around the golf course.  The last place I
successfully hit (traffic prevented me from getting to Ft. Lauderdale) was
Oleta River State Recreation Area (FL Gazetteer p.119 A2.)  I wanted to
evaluate this coastal site as a migrant hotspot.  Conclusion:  maybe.  It
does have some Australian pines and other trees that could provide some
habitat.  They have great bike trails if you're into that.  The best animal
that I saw there was a Gray fox that came out to pick up some small road
kill off the road.

Sunday AM I hooked up with Brian Hope and birded private property area near
Loxahatchee NWR.  The woods were relatively inactive as would be the theme
for the weekend.  We spent a good deal of time poring through the Red-winged
blackbirds for the Yellow-headed blackbird that Brian saw earlier in the
winter.  No yellow-headed, but we did get to enjoy the aroma of the
50,000,000 tomatoes that were dumped to rot in the field.  I did manage to
pick up a female Nashville warbler.  By pick up, I mean add it to my list, I
am not in the habit of picking up strange birds.  After lunch, I headed over
to the coast to check Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Spanish River Park.  The
nature center was loaded with people.  I located a few songbirds, in the
corners of the park where they were hiding, but no Ash-throated flycatcher.
Spanish River was also packed, but the nature trail area was relatively
devoid of people.  In the NW corner of the park I spied a Gray fox on a
trail leading to the water.  The field behind the shop area produced two
Indigo buntings and a Northern parula (migrants?)  Another Gray fox was at
the edge of the field.  I don't know who was more interested.  It kept
hiding in the bushes nearby and peering out at me.

Monday I headed out to the Holey Land WMA (FL Gazetteer P.113 A3) to see if
it would be any better in the morning than the evening.  As I said before,
the theme for the day was dead woods.  I did get several Grasshopper sparrow
s and two each of Clay-colored and Lincoln's sparrows.  North of the
management area about a mile or two, there were some cane fields being
burned and harvested.  The birds were coming in for a harvest of their own.
Among the vultures circling in the distance I found a Swainson's hawk.
There were a few harriers and some Red-tailed hawks, but not much hawks in
general.  I followed the Miami Canal north to Lake Harbor on the south shore
of the lake.  There were about 120 N. rough-winged swallows on the wires
near a bridge over the canal.  They appeared to be checking out the bridge
for a potential nest site.  I headed around the lake to the Belle Glade
Marina.  There were some white pelicans out on the lake, but things were
generally too far to see in the heat of the day.  I checked a few spots on
the east side of the lake.  One place of interest was Paul Rardin Park on
SR715 south of Pahokee (FL Gazetteer p.108 B1.)  This park looks like it may
be interesting in the fall.  It has lots of ficus trees full of berries.  It
seems like a good spot for Tanagers and Thrushes.  There was a male redstart
and a few other warblers present as well as flocks of robins and waxwings
feeding on the berries.  I hit a few other places on the way to the Blue
Cypress Marsh Conservation Area  in Indian River County (FL Gazetteer P.96
C1.)  Here I saw a few Purple gallinules and a bunch of Snail kites.  I saw
a total of 36 kites flying north apparently to a communal roost.  I'm sure
there were more, but I had to keep looking over my shoulder to see them.  I
did hear a Least bittern calling for my last year bird of the weekend.  I
finished the weekend and month with 262.

Wow, this E-mail is almost as long as my weekend!  I hope I didn't bore
anyone to death.  It was a pretty interesting weekend, but I am looking
forward to the excitement of spring migration.


David Simpson
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Sebastian, FL