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The Tropical Audubon Society field trip on Saturday, August 30, 2005, to the sod farms in Palm Beach County, offered twenty-three birders a mixture of lifebirds, yearbirds and beerbirds. The weather was rather comfortable with balmy breezes provided by Hurricane Gustav, a hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, keeping us cool and keeping the mosquitoes down. Pray that those folks, still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, stay out of harms way.
 
Our first stop, the Holeyland/Rotenberger W.M.A., produced some excellent birds. We ran into our good friend, Kevin Sarsfield, on the drive west and he had two scopes set up on a pair of White-tailed Kites seen at close range. Further up the road a Limpkin was seen feeding alongside the road. We stopped at the water control structure west of the Chinese Fan Palm nursery and found a nice mixed flock of warblers, including American Redstart, Black and White, Prothonotary, Prairie, Yellow and Common Yellowthroat, along with White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers. We made a brief stop at the nearby new Stormwater Retention Area (STA) for scouting purposes. It includes a pedestrian bridge and bathroom and holds great promise for a future field trip. Bicycling would be recommended as vehicular traffic is prohibited. I did not jot down the name of the new area, so if you know it feel free to post it. Unfortunately, I could not find it on the South Florida Water Management District website. Black-crowned Night Herons, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawks, Barn Swallows and Eastern Towhee were also seen in the W.M.A. 
 
We headed north to the radio tower which had Kildeer and Eastern Meadowlarks, but little else.
The King Ranch Sod Farms across US 27 had an Upland Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilt, Pectoral Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers and Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, along with Cliff Swallow. We turned east off of US 27 onto SR 827 and stopped at a flooded field which added Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers to our shorebird count. Mottled Ducks, Wood Storks, Gull-billed Tern and scads of egrets and herons were also seen. Black Terns were in abundance anywhere there was a flooded field. 
 
After a hardy lunch in Belle Glade, we hit SR 880 and headed to Brown’s Farm Road, where we met up with the Fearsome Foursome - Roberto “Toe” Torres, Raul “Rock Jetty” Urguelles, Trey “Shoot” Mitchell and Bill “The Barrister” Boeringer. They were scoping a flooded field that had very few birds at first glance. At second glance, the bird of the day, a mottley, alternate plumaged Golden Plover was spotted by Rock Jetty.   The mottled underparts of the Golden Plover had the group going for a while, inviting confusion with Pacific and European, but the long primary extensions and the bird’s response to a tape of its call - by circling over our head, repeating its flight call, a squeaky  “sweet” -  iced the call; American Golden Plover.  A Fulvous Whistling Duck was also in the flooded field and we had two adult Bald Eagles fly over. 
 
We crossed the canal to another flooded field and picked up two Wilson’s Phalaropes and Semipalmated Sandpiper along with Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Rough-winged Swallow and Eastern Kingbird.
 
We began the return drive home and stopped by the flooded field on SR 827 that we had visited earlier and added a Caspian Tern  and Ruddy Turnstone to our daylist. We crossed US 27 and continued west on SR 827 to the cypress dome on the Miami Canal and picked up four Barn Owls and several Bank Swallows.
 
We called it a day, and returned to Miami picking up Belted Kingfisher, White-winged Dove and Monk Parakeet along the way. A total of 81 species, including 17 shorebird species, were seen on the fieldtrip. Life is good………………….as I hoisted a Full Sail Amber, 12 fluid ounces of ridiculously tasty original amber ale, concocted by a  massive brew force of 47 by specialists in the liquid refreshment arts since 1987 and brewed in Hood River, Oregon, as my celebratory libation. 
 
Paul Bithorn
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Virginia Gardens, Florida
Miami-Dade County
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