My good birding friend Cheryl and I spent the day down in Miami/Dade County. There have been some recent reports of Willow and Alder Flycatchers, Lark Sparrows and Yellow-headed Blackbirds from the areas just outside of Everglades National Park so we thought it worth the drive down to see what was around.
When we first arrived at around 7:30 it was raining and thundering so we stopped at the Coe Visitor center and wandered around finding a nice little feeding flock of Warblers. We then went into Everglades N.P. and proceeded to Research Road where we scoped the newly scraped areas for Shorebirds coming up with more than a half-dozen shorebirds but nothing rare. As the rains finally subsided about 9:00 we headed out of the park and over to the area called the Annex where we began our search for Flycatchers. Within 20 minutes of parking the car we had our first small Empidonax Flycatcher but unfortunately it did not call so its identification would have to remain a mystery.
This group of Flycatchers are so similar in appearance that the only way to identify them is by their vocalizations. We wandered down the road occasionally hearing calling Flycatchers but never getting a look at any of them. We were fortunate and bumped into Larry Manfredi … South Florida’s premier birding guide and he pointed us down the road a little further where he and a client had just seen a calling Alder Flycatcher. We quickly located our target and while quite backlit I managed to get a couple of OK Identification shots. This was a lifer for both Cheryl and I and made waiting out the rain well worth it!!
We then proceeded back into Everglades N.P. and made the 40 minute drive down to the Flamingo Campground area. The park as a whole was pretty quiet bird wise other than Crows and Mockingbirds but we did have a nice assortment of shorebirds near the tent camping area. We had Spotted, Solitary, Least, Western and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. Willets, Ruddy Turnstones, Short-billed Dowitchers and Black-bellied Plovers wrapped up the shorebird list. We spent 15-20 minutes near the marina scoping the flats area and came up with a couple or Redish Egrets and Marbled Godwits amongst the more common birds to add to our growing list. There was also a Great White Heron, the white morph of the Great Blue and always a nice bird to see.
We stopped at a number of spots on our way out of the park and were quite amazed at the lack of birds at places we always see them. Paurotis Pond where 100’s of Woodstorks and Spoonbills nest had no birds, zero, nada, none! The Royal Palm visitor center had so much water that where there is normally dozens of Alligators we only saw one while walking the entire loop. On our way out we did run into almost a dozen White-crowned Pigeons but they are one of the least camera friendly birds and I only managed a few shots including this one of a rapidly fleeing bird.
I see Lingus Snails occasionally while birding but this was the first one I’ve ever seen out of the shell moving. I guess all of the moisture allowed him to get on gettin on!
Earlier in the week I was watching this Tricolor Heron feeding. They are not quite as animated as a Reddish Egret but they can put on a pretty good show if you have patients. This adult was determined to get his fish and then he was kind enough to show me his catch!!!
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