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Sorry about the lateness of this report but I've been busy getting
settled in my new place in Davie.  Part of this project was bringing
a small cruising sailboat from Flamingo to it's new berth on south
Biscayne bay by sailing around the west part of Florida Bay down
to the Intercoastal Waterway north of Marathon.  From my first
anchorage at Bamboo Key my route roughly followed the ICW
anchoring for the night at Shell Key, Blackwater Sound, and finally
Elliott Key.  There wasn't much to see on the early part of the trip
besides the expected Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants,
Laughing Gulls, and Royal Terns.  The only exceptions to this mix
were about six Sandwich Terns on marker number two south of
East Cape Sable, about a dozen immature Northern Gannets flying
east, and a few dozen Barn Swallows flying north.  During the night
there were the occasional chips and chinks of nocturnal migrants.

I docked at the marina at the Elliott Key Visitors Center on the
Wednesday morning (5/8) where the only other person around was
the leader of of an exotic plant removal crew, when he learned that
my main interest was birds he mentioned an unusual pigeon-like
bird that he had been seeing along the road south down the center
of the Key.  His description convinced me that he was seeing a
Quail-Dove but whether it was a Key West or Ruddy was still
uncertain.  After spending a few minutes checking out a Strangler
Fig between the visitors center and the residence area which was
full of fruit and warblers; Cape Mays, Black-throated-blues,
Blackpolls, American Redstarts, and Common Yellowthroats in
that order of abundance, I set off in search of the Quail-Dove.  It
had been years since my last visit to this key and the southern
part was unfamiliar to me so this was mostly an orientation hike, or
at least that is what it turned out to be.  The Quail-Dove wasn't to
be found and the only new birds were singing Prairie Warblers, and
Black-whiskered and White-eyed Vireos.  My path covered over 11
miles, much of it on rough and rocky road and trails in shoes
poorly chosen for the job.  Another goal on this trip was to see the
Schaus's Swallowtail butterfly, there were a good many around that
probably were that species but their flight was to fast and erratic to
allow positive identification.  That afternoon back at the visitors
center the man who had told me about the Quail-Dove stopped tell
me about some Buccaneer Palms he had discovered on the south
end of the key and gave me instructions on how to find them, this
is Florida's rarest palm and it's only found in the wild on Elliott Key.
 He also informed me that they weren't working the next day so I'd
have the road to myself the next morning, while they are working
they use atv's to get to and from the work area.  The rest of the
afternoon was spent birding around the visitors center where Palm
Warbler was added to my list along with an Eastern Kingbird and
several Gray Kingbirds.

On thursday morning (8/9) after a quick check of the fig tree I set
off down the southern road again in sturdier shoes at about 7:30
and after going about 300 yards saw a Key West Quail-Dove
walking towards me in the road about 150 feet away.  Over about
the next ten minutes it approached to within 75 feet then flew off
the trail to the left.  Continuing down the trail towards the
Buccaneer Palm site I finally got a good look at a couple of
Schaus's Swallowtails as they paused to sun themselves in the
morning sunlight.  The search for the palms was successful and a
few more birds were added to my list; Ovenbird, Northern Parula,
and a couple of Mangrove Cuckoos (the cuckoos were heard only).
The Quail-Dove wasn't around when I came back through at about
noon and most of the rest of the day was spent birding around the
visitors center with a short walk up the north road.  The migrant
warblers weren't quite as abundant as the day before and there was
a higher proportion of American Redstarts.  Late that afternoon I left
the marina and anchored off the north end of the key where Least
Terns were plunging into the water from almost a hundred feet up to
catch small fish.  Friday morning my journey ended with a fast run
across Biscayne Bay to the boats new home at Convoy Point.

Bryant Roberts
Davie Fl

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