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Hi All,

This is a long trip report but some may enjoy a bit of a comprehensive and 
lengthy report.

I would like to say a Big Thanks to all of the many of you who responded to 
my 5/21 request for information post concerning the May 25th-30th Florida 
trip that Max Medley and I made down from Georgia.

We ended up driving 2550 miles and also made the boat day trip to the Dry 
Tortugas (a first for both of us to be there, what a place!)! I didn't realize 
that we were going to be traveling more than the distance from Jacksonville 
to San Diego but we did!

Thanks in large part to your help we were pretty successful in getting to see 
almost all of the regular countable (and maybe just countable in Florida) 
Florida specialties which are available to be seen on land or from shore in the 
spring!

Possible Regular Spring Florida Specialties (just my list):

Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Muscovy Duck
American Flamingo
Magnificent Frigatebird
Masked Booby
Brown Booby
Great White Heron
Reddish Egret (white morph)
White-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Short-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
Limpkin
Whooping Crane (nonmigratory)
Brown Noddy
Roseate Tern
White-crowned Pigeon
Budgerigar
Monk Parakeet
Nanday (Black-hooded) Parakeet
White-winged Parakeet
Mangrove Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Burrowing Owl
Antillean Nighthawk
Black-whiskered Vireo
Florida Scrub-Jay
Cave Swallow
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Common Myna
Yellow (Cuban Golden) Warbler
Shiny Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird
Spot-breasted Oriole

We only missed:

American Flamingo (didn't try as they were reported seen fairly recently but 
now as probably gone from Florida Bay for the season)
Reddish Egret white-morph (saw the dark-morph)
Whooping Crane (nonmigratory, didn't try for any)
Mangrove Cuckoo (one distant heard only bird on Key Largo on the Dynamite 
Trail)
Smooth-billed Ani (foiled for the 2nd time)
Spot-breasted Oriole (I saw a parent with young last trip down, but that was 
no consolation for Max this time)

We didn't see or chase any West Indian Vagrants (none had been reported on 
the Florida RBA since May 15th).

-----

We attribute our pretty good results certainly not to the fact that we are 
incredible Florida birders but more to the following:

1. In preparation consulting two excellent books: A Birder's Guide to Florida 
(ABA Lane Birdfinding Guide,Bill Pranty), and Birding Florida (Falcon Guide, Brian 
Rapoza).

2. Availing ourselves of the latest information made public on the Florida public 
forum birding sites, primarily FLORIDABIRDS-L, BIRDBRAINS, and the TAS Miami 
Bird Board.

3. Putting out Requests For Information just before the trip concerning target 
birds on some of the Florida public forum birding sites, and reaping the benefits 
of your many responses!

4. Research, Research, and, well, more Research.

5. Trip Planning, Trip Planning, and, well, more Trip Planning.

6. Birding and traveling every available minute as much as possible during the 
trip and trying to take advantage of any good opportunities which arise.

I put up about 50 handheld phonescoped video clips from the trip including 
some pretty good highlights of some great birds, please see the VIDEO section 
at the end of the post.

If you plug GPS coordinates into Google Maps it is usually the green arrow 
which displays the exact location and not the red lettered marker.

-----

Our itinerary with highlights:

*****
5/24 Thursday - TRAVEL
*****

We departed the Atlanta area in the evening and headed for Hernando Beach, 
Hernando County, slated to try to find the fabled Hernando County 
BUDGERIGARS the first thing in the morning.

*****
5/25 Friday - HERNANDO BEACH, HERNANDO AND PASCO COUNTIES, ST. 
PETERSBURG AREA, KISSIMMEE/LAKE TOHOPEKALIGA
*****

We arrived in Hernando Beach early for hopefully (LIFE) BUDGERIGARS and 
were successful in finding a flock of 10+ all green birds on Gulf Winds Circle.

--- See BUDG VIDEOS

We then tried different Hernando County and Pasco County sites for SHORT-
TAILED HAWK to no avail.

MONK PARAKEETS and a single NANDAY (Black-hooded) PARAKEET were seen 
at the power sub station at Walsingham Park in Pinellas County at GPS: N 27 
52.785 W 82 48.707. We didn't see any parakeets further down the road by 
the baseball fields where I had seen a NANDAY (Black-hooded) PARAKEET 3 
years ago.

--- See MOPA and NAPA VIDEOS

A pair of exotic MUSCOVY DUCKS were seen in the canal east of the Ulmerton 
Road and 10th Sreet intersection. A local person said that there used to be a 
lot more of them there in previous years.

We then made a good try at Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg for SHORT-
TAILED HAWK, again to no avail.

It was getting on towards late afternoon and evening and so we made haste 
to Kissimmee for a try at previously reported FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCKS and 
SNAIL KITES there.

Our first stop was the canal at Oak Street (Osceola County Oak Street 
Extension Preserve?) at GPS: N 28 18.022 W 81 23.725. John Thomton had 
posted a SNAIL KITE from this location the previous day and we were able to 
see probably the same (LIFE) bird which was sitting on a wall very close to 
the road when we arrived! Thanks John!

--- See SNKI VIDEO

Having birded in central and south Florida only once before I was fairly 
shocked to see not 1, but 26 LIMPKIN along the canal, I didn't know that they 
congregated in these and larger numbers as well.

We then headed the short distance to Brinson Park, at the north north end of 
Lake Tohopekaliga, hoping for a (LIFE) FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK. We found 
6 about a quarter of a mile to the north of Neptune Road there, and I was 
able to get some phonescoped video of what looked like a big male calling with 
neck fully extended and bill lifted and lowered with each call! GPS: N 28 
17.601 W 81 23.737, and as John posted what an incredibly birdy place that 
was! We saw even more LIMPKINS from Brinson Park than we had at the canal 
we had just left! We stayed in Orlando that night.

--- See FUWD VIDEO

*****
5/26 Saturday - MERRITT ISLAND NWR, VIERA WETLANDS, JOE OVERSTREET 
ROAD LAKE KISSIMMEE, THREE LAKES WMA
*****

On Saturday we traveled to Merritt Island NWR in Brevard County early for 
FLORIDA SCRUB-JAY and found a very cooperative bird just past the ranger 
station gate on the approach to Playalinda Beach at the Canaveral National 
Seashore. GPS: N 28 38.680 W 80 40.971.

--- See FLSJ VIDEOS

The May 27th pelagic trip out of New Smyrna Beach sponsored by the Friends 
of the Marine Science Center, Ponce Inlet, and organized by Michael Brothers, 
was officially canceled Saturday due to the crazy activities of Tropical Storm 
Beryl. So we stopped and rearranged our trip plans and hotel reservations. It 
turned out that with a bit more time to spend in South Florida we were able to 
squeeze in a pelagic day trip to the Dry Tortugas (our first) to replace the 
pelagic trip lost out of New Smyrna Beach! Thank you Michael Brothers, er uh, 
we somehow soldiered on... lamenting any missed possible future Sunday 
Florida east coast tropicbirds as we went... in spite of the new plans.

We headed to the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera to be sure of 
getting CRESTED CARACARA for the trip and were able to observe a pair of the 
birds in beautiful but windy conditions there at GPS: N 28 13.715 W 80 45.627.

--- See CRCA VIDEOS

From Viera it was on to Lake Kissimmee at the end of Joe Overstreet Road in 
Osceola County hoping for more SNAIL KITES. It seems that there was kind of 
a Memorial Day weekend airboat super party going on at the landing there, 
airboats were running everywhere, and no kites were to be seen anywhere no 
far how far or how many times out you scanned.

However, We did observe some BALD EAGLES and a little family of PURPLE 
GALLINULES seemingly fussing with some COMMON GALLINULES there at GPS: 
N 27 56.235 W 81 13.559.

--- See PUGA VIDEOS

After Joe Overstreet Road during the evening we were going to traverse part 
of Three Lakes WMA to the east of Hwy 523 but couldn't gain eastward entry 
at the Williams Road crossing. We noticed from the highway there what looked 
like RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER clusters with trees with the requisite rings 
painted around them so we spent the last light of the evening scoping the 
trees around for the woodpeckers but did not see any.

We watched a male COMMON NIGHTHAWK performing probable courting flight 
and dives but didn't hear any booming or see the bird pause to come to the 
ground. We stopped for the night in Fort Pierce.

*****
5/27 Sunday - KISSIMMEE PRAIRIE PRESERVE STATE PARK, FORT 
LAUDERDALE, MIAMI, KENDELL
*****

Due to the cancellation of the pelagic trip and the changes in plans we were 
able to take advantage of the sudden opportunity which the great staff at the 
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park made available, on Sunday the 27th, to 
go out and see the WHITE-TAILED KITE nest recently found out on the prairie! 
We arrived very early, but on the approach roads to KPPSP we counted no 
less than 9 CRESTED CARACARAS (but again no SHORT-TAILED HAWKS). I 
guess it is true that caracaras like to check things earlier in the day than most 
other raptors.

Arriving on the park proper, GPS: N 27 32.331 W 81 01.371, prior to prairie 
buggy departure we had excruciatingly good looks at a couple of NORTHERN 
BOBWHITES at the roadside.

--- See NOBW VIDEO

Once out on the prairie in the buggy, and warming up for the WHITE-TAILED 
KITES, Jen Benson pulled us up to a roadside stop for great views of a 
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE nest with young on the nest and very close to the 
road.

--- See STKI VIDEO

Finally we arrived at the WHITE-TAILED KITE nest spot and observed two 
(LIFE) adults with nest and young. One of the kites made a closer approach 
hunting right in front of us, while still out a ways, and I was able to handheld 
phonescope video the bird kiting. We were sad to read of the recent nest 
failure on Birdbrains reported by Biologist Paul Miller.

--- See WTKI VIDEOS of the nesting, preening, and hunting WHITE-TAILED 
KITES.

Thanks So Much to Paul Miller and staff for putting on the WTKI buggy rides 
and to Ranger Jen Benson for taking us out, a really great time was had by all.

Upon departing we found BURROWING OWLS to the west of the road before 
the park entrance, and we had a CRESTED CARACARA in at roadside which 
was eventually attacked by a mockingbird!

--- see CRCA Kissimmee Prairie PSP VIDEOS

Then it was on to Fort Lauderdale where we tried for SMOOTH-BILLED ANI in 
the afternoon to no avail, but we did see (LIFE) WHITE-WINGED PARAKEETS 
at Ocean Bank in Miami afterwards at GPS: N 25 46.755 W 80 15.851.

--- See WWPA VIDEO

The Kendell area was next where we saw our first WHITE-CROWNED PIGEONS 
and only CAVE SWALLOWS for the trip, but missed RED-WHISKERED BULBUL 
and SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE.

--- See WCPI VIDEOS

We stayed in Homestead that night.

*****
5/28 Monday - KEY WEST, DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK, FLORIDA KEYS, 
MARATHON
*****

We departed Homestead Extremely Early for Key West to make sure we would 
get there in plenty of time for the morning departure of the ferry boat for the 
day trip to the Dry Tortugas.

On the way out and back on the pelagic portion of the trip we saw large 
numbers of (200-300+) AUDUBON'S SHEARWATERS. Also seen at sea were 
SOOTY and BRIDLED TERNS, and a few pelagic MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS 
(but alas, no tropicbirds).

Once at Fort Jefferson, GPS: N 24 37.644 W 82 52.326, we were properly 
astounded, as first time visitors, at the scene taking place there, thousands 
and thousands and thousands of terns and noddies roosting and in flight. 
Many, many frigatebirds roosting and in flight. MASKED and BROWN BOOBIES 
on nearby Hospital Key. As we only had about 4 hours onsite we immediately 
set to work scouring and pouring over all of the noddies which were close 
enough to not be totally distorted by the heat haze and heat waves in the 
scope. We could not detect any BLACK NODDIES, RED-FOOTED BOOBIES, or 
any other West Indian vagrants during our stay at the site.

We left a bit sad that we hadn't seen the BLACK NODDIES somewhat recently 
reported but we had tried as hard as we could have. We were stunned by 
stark beauty and grandeur of the setting there, and by the sheer huge 
numbers of seabirds present. I can't imagine what it must have been like for 
those poor souls who had to build Fort Jefferson brick by brick.

--- See the DRY TORTUGAS BUSH and LONG KEY VIDEOS for close-up video of 
these two islets (If you see any BLACK NODDIES in the videos, ah, it might be 
best not to let me know).

Arriving back in Key West we noted several RED JUNGLEFOWL on our way out 
of town and to Marathon. Once in Marathon we found the nesting ROSEATE 
and LEAST TERNS on the Government Center buildings at GPS: N 24 42.700 W 
81 05.859, as well as the BURROWING OWLS at a couple of spots at the 
Sombrero Golf Course, GPS: N 24 42.440 W 81 05.147. At the end of the day 
we were at the Florida Keys Marathon Airport terminal building north parking 
lot listening and watching for ANTILLEAN NIGHTHAWKS at GPS: N 24 43.577 W 
81 02.904.

One Antillean was hawking and calling pretty close in and well before dark, and 
we had good looks at the bird just north of the parking lot.

We headed back to Homestead for the night very contented and happy birders 
(missing BLACK NODDIES notwithstanding).

*****
5/29 Tuesday - HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA CITY, CARD SOUND ROAD, KEY LARGO, 
HOMESTEAD, EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
*****

Very early we left Homestead to try to first see "CUBAN GOLDEN" YELLOW 
WARBLERS near the north end of the Card Sound Bridge, on Card Sound Road 
on the approach to Key Largo, but not before first finding several COMMON 
MYNAS by the time we had made it to the first McDonald's for breakfast south 
of our hotel in Homestead. We first saw a couple of the mynas on wires on the 
side of the road and then again a pair in the McDonald's sign while in the drive-
thru! Cool!

We stopped at Alabama Jack's just before the toll booth on Card Sound Road 
to look and listen for the warblers, we heard and found only PRAIRIE 
WARBLERS there. Finding no Yellow Warblers we eventually worked our way 
past the toll booth and on out towards the bridge and the water and the end 
of the roadside mangroves where we finally found a (LIFE) singing Cuban 
Golden (Yellow) Warbler or maybe two at GPS: N 25 17.364 W 80 22.415!

The morning was burning away so it was on to John Pennekamp Coral Reef 
State Park to obtain our backcountry permit to hike the Dynamite Trail at 
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park to look for 
MANGROVE CUCKOO and BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO.

From the roadside parking for the Dynamite we had a BLACK-WHISKERED 
VIREO even before entering the backcountry, but it was the first and last one 
we would see. We heard another on the trail, and also heard a MANGROVE 
CUCKOO in the distance but never did see the cuckoo. There were plenty of 
WHITE-EYED VIREOS though on the Dynamite that morning.

When we came back to the car we were fairly famished, and a good bit 
mosquito bitten, and we immediately headed for the Garden Cove Marina and 
the Buzzard's Roost Restaurant to rest, refuel, and recuperate.

Once very well fed and watered we headed to a private residence in 
Homestead where we saw plenty of WHITE-WINGED DOVES and (LIFE) 
BRONZED COWBIRDS (including a male doing a portion of the courtship 
display)... but no SHINY COWBIRDS. So it was fairly immediately off to 
Flamingo in Everglades National Park for the last attempt of the trip for the 
Shiny Ones. We arrived at Flamingo after a beautiful trip through the park, 
seeing both SWALLOW-TAILED KITE and BALD EAGLE on the way. Immediately 
we located a couple of small cowbird flocks around the Visitor Center building 
just to the southwest of the marina. In with the flocks of BROWN-HEADED 
COWBIRDS were at least 2 male SHINY COWBIRDS, GPS: N 25 08.439 W 80 
55.472. I was trying to sort out the female cowbirds, get a good count, and 
to shoot more video of the cowbirds, but somehow didn't get too much, 
something to do with the amount of mosquito activty transpiring around and 
mostly on me, I ended up with mosquito bites on my mosquito bites, the 
record being, I think, a 5-story mosquito bite.

--- See BRCO VIDEOS
--- See SHCO VIDEO
--- See WWDO VIDEOS

Well, what to please do for an encore?

There was just enough daylight left to make it back to the Kendell area and 
try again for RED-WHISKERED BULBUL and SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE before 
heading north for Ormond Beach after dark. So off we went.

We made it to Kendell and searched and searched the neighborhoods north of 
the Baptist Hospital of Miami to no avail. Then I decided to again try the 
Shibui restaraunt location recently posted by Carlos Sanchez on the TAS 
Miami Bird Board as a last try for the bulbul. We arrived and just before dark 
found a (LIFE) RED-WHISKERED BULBUL in the northeast corner of the 
property at SW 102nd Ave and SW 72nd St.! GPS: N 25 42.129 W 80 21.437.

We seemingly now perpetually happy birders took off for Ormond Beach 
planning to arrive at Central Park in the morning for a last, but hopefully not 
grim, try for SHORT-TAILED HAWK.

*****
5/30 Wednesday - ORMOND BEACH, ANASTASIA ISLAND, ST. AUGUSTINE 
BEACH, ST. AUGUSTINE
*****

Early Wednesday morning we were on station at Central Park in Ormond Beach 
scanning the skies for the elusive SHORT-TAILED HAWK. We started on the 
north shore of a lake on Hammock Lane, GPS: N 29 16.350 W 81 04.276, 
mostly watching the treelines to the south where we right away picked up 3 
SWALLOW-TAILED KITES feeding and working.

We then drove around the park making stops in our search, and finally set up 
at the benches just north of Hand Avenue at GPS: N 29 16.008 W 81 04.119. 
It was almost 10:45 and we were wanting to hit the road for home at about 
11 when suddenly and almost overhead we picked up a juvenile dark-morph 
(LIFE) SHORT-TAILED HAWK! The hawk afforded us very good close looks for 
a couple of minutes but was almost directly overhead and I could not bring 
the handheld phonescope to bear on the bird while it was reasonably close in. 
The Short-tailed then drifted maybe a quarter mile to the southeast over the 
lake area north of Fleming Avenue at about GPS: N 29 15.903 W 81 03.937. 
We were pretty delighted as the hawk was soaring and gliding into the wind 
and then performed a couple of stunning vertical plummeting like a stone dives 
for us. On one of the dives the bird stopped at mid-dive and soared pretty 
motionless, trying I am sure to reacquire prey, and I was able to get some 
distant phonescoped video of the hawk.

--- See STHA VIDEOS (I also extracted a distant still frame of the hawk from 
one of the videos and put it up as well)

Once we made it back to the car and consulted our Wheeler Guide, Raptors of 
Eastern North America, we felt that the bird looked to be of the streaked type 
of dark-morph juvenile.

Now we were pretty ecstatic birders, and we headed for home, stopping to 
take a quick tour of the St. Augustine area where I used to live as a boy.

-----

What a great trip and thanks so very much again to all of you who helped us 
with great information regarding finding our target birds!

Good Birding All!

Mark

Mark McShane
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia
www.neargareport.com

***** VIDEO INFORMATION SECTION *****

The current state of my handheld phonescoped video being what it is, 
handheld phonescoped video clips of some of the birds seen on the trip can be 
downloaded from the 052512-053012 Florida folder on my Box site at:

http://www.box.com/shared/2yxtdkm3ta

Of particular interest to some may be:

BRCO - Bronzed Cowbird (male warming up for helicoptering)
CRCA - Crested Caracara (Kissimmee Prairie PSP mockingbird attack)
DRY TORTUGAS (Bush and Long Key Spectacle)
FUWD - Fulvous Whistling-Duck (male calling)
MOPA - Monk Parakeet (nest building)
STHA - Short-tailed Hawk
STKI - Swallow-tailed Kite (young on nest)
WTKI - White-tailed Kite (at nest, preening, and hunting)

-----

If you need or want the free QuickTime Player from Apple for the MOVie files, 
it's available at:

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download

The phone only shoots video at 1080p and produces a native video resolution 
on the computer screen of 1920x1080, which also may be way too big for a 
lot of folks' screen settings or monitors, but it can't be changed.

The videos should be set up to fit your computer screen, but if not then once 
you get into QuickTime you can click on the View menu up at the top left and 
then select Half Size, or Fit to Screen, and the video should better fit your 
screen. You can play around and change some of the other settings from the 
menus up there as well.

You can also pause the videos, and then click-on (hold your click down), and 
then drag the little upside-down black triangle progress indicator (at the 
bottom of the screen) through the video very slowly, a frame at a time, for 
maybe more revealing frame-by-frame detail shots!

The videos are a little jumpy being handheld, but selecting Play All Frames 
under the View Menu in QuickTime may help.

-----

Video Reference (probably 2 pages of the video list in the folder, some stuff 
may be on Page 2):

BRCO - Bronzed Cowbird (male warming up for helicoptering)
BUDG - Budgerigar
CRCA - Crested Caracara (Kissimmee Prairie PSP mockingbird attack)
DRY TORTUGAS (Bush and Long Key Spectacle)
FLSJ - Florida Scurb-Jay
FUWD - Fulvous Whistling-Duck (male calling)
MOPA - Monk Parakeet (nest building)
NAPA - Nanday Parakeet
NOBW - Northern Bobwhite (very close)
PUGA - Purple Gallinule (with young)
SHCO - Shiny Cowbird
SNKI - Snail Kite
STHA - Short-tailed Hawk
STKI - Swallow-tailed Kite (young on nest)
WCPI - White-crowned Pigeon
WTKI - White-tailed Kite (at nest, preening, and hunting)
WWDO - White-winged Dove
WWPA - White-winged Parakeet

-----

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