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Hi Folks,

Did we or did we not make the record?  Let's find out.

We hit our flooded fields on US 27 with the sun at our backs and the
temperature dampened by the near passing of some of Florida's famous
afternoon thundershowers.   The first field immediately yielded the large
white blobs advertising the continued presence of American white pelicans.
There were dozens of shorebirds including the ever present and ever noisy
Marsh poodles (Black-necked stilts.)   Bands of Mottled ducks were
throughout, but no extremely early (or summering) Blue-winged teal.  Both
yellowlegs were soon added to the list.  After a good deal of searching I
was able to detect two Stilt sandpipers in the far reaches of the field.  We
were not able to recover Western sandpiper or Semipalmated plover.  A quick
check of the next pond to the south revealed more ducks and a few
shorebirds.  There was a pair of Fulvous whistling ducks hiding in the pond,
the same that I saw a few weeks ago for my year birds.  These were Andy's
FOY.  Not a bad stop.  We were now at 128 species, just two away from the
record and a slough of Miami countables ahead of us.  We hoped to get a few
more before leaving the cane fields, but it looked as if the record would
fall in the exotic environs of Kendall.  We checked the White-tailed kite
spot on the road to Holey Land, breaking a streak of four in a row on this
species.  I emptied the contents of the first five gallon gas can while The
Punk scanned the marshes.  No bonus anis or Snail kites or even a stray
swallow in this area.  If it weren't for the shorebirds doing the Hurricane
Shuffle, we would be over the record by now.  I guess we will have to wait
until Miami.  We abandoned the mucky environs of Palm Beach County at 1812.
Seven minutes behind schedule with 128 species and 650.5 miles.

We made it all the way to Kendall without seeing any Monk parakeets.
Arriving at 1900, now 10 minutes behind schedule, at 702 miles, we quickly
began to tick off exotic necessaries.  We picked up Monk parakeet by call on
87th street.  A stop at the corner to investigate "Canary-winged" parakeets
calling nearby rewarded us with a tree full of White-winged parakeets in a
tree by the hospital.  Spot-breasted orioles were next at the east end of
86th street.  Later we would see another Spot-breasted oriole.
White-crowned pigeon interrupted the exotic influx before we added
Red-whiskered bulbul and Muscovy duck.  We left the neighborhood with 134
species and 703.2 miles.  It was now 1912; only two minutes behind schedule.

We got to the Card Sound Road toll gate at 1940, just five minutes behind
schedule.  It was too late for all of the keys specialties.  I have yet to
figure out the best timing for this end of the route.  We bombed on Prairie
warbler, Yellow warbler, Black-whiskered vireo, and Mangrove cuckoo.  Andy
had picked up a few Cave swallows at Cutler Ridge on the way down and we
finally got Gray Kingbird.  That would be the last species of the day.  We
slowly trudged our way to Marathon behind a couple of slow pokes for the
entire two lane section from MM 90 to MM 55.  By the time we got there, the
nighthawks had either gone to rest or stopped calling.  We tried for
Burrowing owls at nearby Sombrero Key but were without success.  We had
entertained thoughts of trying for shorebirds at Ohio Key, since we still
could get Semipalmated and Wilson's plover as well as Western sandpiper, and
trying a few more nighthawk spots.  Around midnight we would finish off the
day throwing out bread in the Publix parking lot for Slaty-backed and
Ring-billed gulls.  815 miles of driving on three hours of sleep coupled
with the miss of our two "guaranteed" species led to the decision to abort
at 2145.  I had to work the next day.  Andy's year Antillean nighthawk would
have to wait.

So there it is.  815 miles, 19 hours, and 136 species (133 shared.)  Not
quite a record on miles, but at least another monthly record.  Not a very
solid record I may say.  We may try to beat it this month.  I have already
identified several flaws in the strategy and have ideas on what to do in
August.  I may try the August route in July just to see if we can improve
things.  Somebody stop me, please!

David Simpson
[log in to unmask]
Fellsmere, FL

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