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Hello Fellow Birders,

 

This past Saturday through Tuesday, Tom and Connie Plaskett and I went to
the Miami area, hoping to see some of the exotic species which reside there.
We located most of the birds which we had hoped to see, and got a few bonus
birds besides. We started out Saturday from Englewood, on the SW coast, and
arrived at A.D. Barnes Park around 11:00. We were very fortunate to run into
Carlos Sanchez, who steered us right to a feeding flock in the main hammock,
just north of the entrance. Included in that group of warblers were
Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Prairie, Palm, Black-and-White, and a
Blue-headed Vireo. A little later on, across the park at the "Homeless"
Hammock, we ran into the same flock again, which had grown to include No.
Parula and Yellow-throated Warblers. Also seen in the park that day, along
with the expected regulars were Am. Kestrel, Red-shouldered, and Cooper's
Hawks. Carlos suggested the University of Miami as a good mid-day stop, and
we were very happy that we took him up on that tip. We walked around Lake
Osceola, finding two Green Herons and a Spotted Sandpiper, and followed the
lake, where it narrows, around to Stanford Drive. Connie spied an oriole
flying by, so hustled across the road and located the bird in front of the
Jenkins Building. Bingo! Our first target bird - a lovely adult
Spot-breasted Oriole. After we drank him in thoroughly, we heard the
squawking of parakeets, and walked back toward the lake, finding a pair of
White-winged Parakeets in a bare tree near the bridge. To further enhance
the moment, the S.B. Oriole flew back across the road, into the same tree
with the parakeets! We were off to a great start. Walking back around the
lake, we also discovered a Gray Kingbird on top of a palm spike near the
Music Complex. Next we headed over to the neighborhood across the street
from Baptist Hospital, and discovered another target bird - the
Red-whiskered Bulbul - sitting on a wire near the Monk Parakeets' nest by
the transformer. He flew off after a minute, so we drove over to the
hospital, and found another small group of White-winged Parakeets, along
with several flying flocks of either Red-masked or Mitred Parakeets. Just on
the off-chance that the Bulbul might return and we could get longer looks,
we went back to the neighborhood across Kendall, and relocated him in the
same area by the Monks' nest again. We ended the day feeling very contented
with the discovery of some of the exotics we were hoping for.

 

On Sunday morning, we joined the Tropical Audubon Society for a walk at
Fairchild Tropical Gardens and Matheson Hammock, led by Joe Barros, and ably
assisted by John Boyd and Brian Rapoza. The entrance fee into Fairchild was
waived that day for TAS, and we felt so fortunate and appreciative to be
able to walk those lovely grounds in search of more of our target birds. The
Hill Mynas were calling almost as soon as we turned off the car in the
parking lot, and we got many looks at them throughout the walk. Also seen at
Fairchild were Yellow-chevroned and Red-masked Parakeets, a flyover
White-crowned Pigeon (which Tom and Connie missed unfortunately), Cedar
Waxwings, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a female Painted Bunting, a
Black-and-White Warbler, Palm, and Prairie Warblers. The walk across the
street into the hammocks west of Matheson were full of streaming raptors -
four Broad-winged Hawks at once, harassed by a Sharpie, with the Broad-wings
in turn harassing both species of vultures, 4-5 Swallow-tailed Kites, a
Cooper's Hawk,  Am. Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon. A
Chestnut-fronted Macaw was seen with his head out through a hole in a tall
palm, and an Eastern Screech Owl popped out of another dead palm. We also
had a Chimney Swift, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Blue-headed Vireo. Our
guides suggested an area in South Miami to search for more White-crowned
Pigeons, which we combed thoroughly, but never found. However, we did see a
male and female House Finch, not often seen in our area of the west coast,
across the street from the tennis courts in the little historic district.
Off we went for a midday pick-me-up of Cafe Cubano, and then back to Baptist
Hospital, to look for more parakeets. We had a little flock of White-winged
Parakeets fly into the trees on Kendall, which are east of the main
entrance, and then a healthy-sized flock of Mitred Parakeets in the trees
across the road from the helipad, and also in the royal palms on the south
side of the hospital. One was hanging upside down from the ledge and a few
were even on the window screens. The last stop for the day was to a spot in
Rockland, previously mentioned on the TAS board, for the Yellow-headed
Blackbird, and we picked up another bonus bird infrequently seen in our home
area, - a White-winged Dove.

 

Monday's trip was to Everglades National Park. Here we got a totally
unexpected surprise. At a stop at C-111E Canal, hoping to come across
previously-reported White-crowned Pigeons, we heard an unusual call, and
turned around to see a small flock flying into the wires on S.R. 9336. A
white bird was in with Boat-tailed Grackles, and, for the life of me, I
could not even begin to imagine what it could be. What the..! A wild
Cockatiel, out in the agricultural fields of Homestead, of all places! We
continued on, thoroughly exploring the Park, all the way down to Flamingo,
coming across the following goodies from a total list of 65 species: 

Visitor Center: Prairie Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, Carolina Wren, Eastern
Bluebird

Gumbo Limbo Trail: male Indigo Bunting, White-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating
Warbler, No. Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, Great-crested Flycatcher. Also
seen in the parking lot was a Black Vulture on the hood of a Cadillac,
picking the rubber lining from the windshield! Numerous attempts by
passers-by to shoo him away for good were unsuccessful.

Campground at Long Pine Key: No. Bobwhite, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Towhee,
Pileated Woodpecker, Pine Warblers

Mahogany Hammock: a pair of Bald Eagles overhead, to make up for having just
missed the Barred Owl owlets

Paurotis Pond: more Wood Storks than I have ever seen roosting, two Roseate
Spoonbills, and a Black-necked Stilt

Nine-Mile Pond: Royal Tern, and an American Crow who brazenly hopped up on
the car window and snatched a granola bar from inside the door pocket

West Lake Trail: walked the boardwalk without coming across a single
species, save for two Little Blue Herons and a Great Egret at the lake.
Dreams of a Mangrove Cuckoo were unfortunately dashed.

Mrazek Pond: one Am. Avocet, a female No. Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal,
Yellow-crowned Night-heron

Coot Bay Pond: Brown Thrasher

Flamingo: Great Crested Flycatchers, Red-shouldered Hawks and Ospreys on
nearly every tree, Willet

C-111E Canal on the return trip: a Peregrine Falcon and Killdeer vainly
trying to fly in the 40 mph wind gusts

The really great plus that day was that despite the very warm temperatures
(93 for a high), we only had a very few mosquitoes on the Gumbo Limbo Trail
and nowhere else. Whew!

 

Our last day, we had arranged in advance of our trip to watch wild
Blue-and-Gold Macaws,  who regularly feed at a private residence. Sorry, but
the location cannot be disclosed, as the owner wants to be sure the birds
stay protected. A flock of seven gorgeous birds stayed for about 15 minutes,
and we marveled at their beauty. We next moved on to Matheson Hammock again,
walking both sides of the park, finding many of the same species as Sunday's
walk, with a No. Harrier being an extra bird for the day. We made one last
stab at the White-crowned Pigeon in So. Miami, coming up empty-handed, but
finding an unexpected showing of three Peacocks, displaying their fans of
eye and "T" feathers,  and shimmying  for two peahens, who seemed to be
totally unimpressed. All we could scare up warbler-wise A.D. Barnes Park
were a male and female Pine, but we located 4 Hill Mynas between Homeless
Hammock and the lake. We ended the trip with a nigh-note last round of
Bustelos, and a low-note of a wrong turn on I-75, taking us all the way back
to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and the Port before I realized I had "oops"-ed
us out of a western return home.

 

I predict a trip back for a search for more parakeets in Miami Springs, and
that elusive White-crowned Pigeon for the Plasketts.

 

 

 


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