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Hi y'all!
 
I rarely post, because I rarely see anything that I think is worthy of  
notice.   I content myself to birding the St 27 corridor from 75 to  Belle 
Glade, and occasionally 98 from Belle Glade to Southern Blvd.  It is  an 
excellent route, and I am fascinated by the transient nature of the bird  
populations in this part of the Everglades and the agricultural land it has been  
turned into. I have seen ONE (!) birder on this route in the last 5 years,  
since I moved my greenhouse to Belle Glade and make the weekly trip.  Which  is 
a shame, because this place is very birdy.  Especially right now.
 
Rt. 827 is familiar to most of you, because it is the road that one takes  
west from 27 to a stand of trees, which has been reliable for Barn Owls.   
Most Florida birders have made that trip at least once.  But on the other  
side of 27, if one takes 827 EAST, there is another jewel - at least it is a  
jewel this year.  At the corner of 827, where it jogs immediately north  
from its easterly path, there is a flooded field just to the east, beyond the  
canal.  It is easily visible from the road. This is the first year  that the 
field has been allowed to lay fallow and flood (something that is done  to 
control nematodes, I am told.).  The population of waders, shorebirds,  and 
waterfowl in this place is enormous, and reminds me a little of Bombay Hook  
at perpetual low tide in August.  Of course, all of these birds are the  
usual suspects, including huge flocks of Blue-Winged Teal and peeps.
 
Today, while glassing the area from the roof of my truck, I spotted the  
tell-tale signs of a predator - large flocks of shorebirds and waterfowl 
rapidly  flying in coordinated waves.  The bird responsible confused me briefly, 
as  it was so large that I immediately thought "Buteo."   But it was not a  
RTHa, as I was expecting.  Instead it was a tremendously large and very  
dark falcon.  My first thought then was, Peregrine.  But I have seen  many 
Peregrines, including one actually carrying a teal after capturing  it.  This 
bird was bigger.  My intial impressions was that there was  less contrast 
between the facial markings, and less contrast between dorsal and  ventral 
plumage, than the typical PeFa juveniles I have seen at this time in  Florida.  
The bird did appear to behave as though it were immature, as its  hunting 
strategy seemed to include a great deal of missing and perching on  the ground. 
 Unfortunately, the bird was a very long way away, and I only  had my bins 
- no scope or photos.  In short, while I wouldn't bet my life  on it, I did 
consider the idea that this might be an immature Gyrfalcon.  I  can see no 
reason to immediately cull this identification, at least without  further 
examination.  While I think that immature Gyr is unlikely, it  certainly fit 
into the size, time of year, and behavior of this bird.  I  would strongly 
recommend that someone go to this place and look for this bird; I  will not be 
able to.
 
Brian Monk,  DVM


954-802-6710

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