Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DAY 1!

  After being rudely awakened by my horrible alarm at 4:00 am it was go time. I jumped out of bed and started getting ready while my mind was going a million miles a minute. What if I miss every target bird today... What if my car breaks down mid trip again... What if it pours and I'm stuck inside... The what ifs were starting to get to me but I just thought of Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys and started chanting "WOOSAH"... Once I gathered everyone in the group (my lovely girlfriend Ashley Nicely, my brother Michael Diaz and my cousin Jared Guerra) we went deep into south Miami-Dade County. At 6 am we arrived at our first stop - Lucky Hammock. This spot gets its name from the rarities that seem to love this otherwise not so bird friendly agricultural area. Oddly enough my first bird of the year was not an owl but a Killdeer calling as it flew over in the dark. Now that #1 had been chosen we started listening for owls. Oddly enough we struck out on the nocturnal hunters but as the sun came up I found my lifer Sedge Wren in the tall grasses!

Lifer Sedge Wren

  There were several target birds I wanted to get while at Lucky Hammock. They were either big rarities or birds that are typically harder to find and it would have been convenient to get them on the 1st. Right off the bat we dipped on Yellow-breasted Chat and Brown-crested Flycatcher so we decided to go east on CR 9336 (Main Park Rd once inside Everglades National Park) towards C-111. Here we got killer views of a very impressive and cooperative Vermilion Flycatcher. This was one of the target birds of the day so it was a good morality boost.

Lovely male Vermilion Flycatcher

  From here we bumped into Trey Mitchell who recommended I try Research Road in the national park for the Brown-crested Flycatcher. Within 20 minutes we heard the bird calling! It was distant and in the hammock but it was there. Unfortunately it never came out. Now that we were two for two after missing our first birds we shot back to Lucky Hammock to get the Tropical Kingbird. The bird was on a power line when we first got back but flushed to chase a Red-shouldered Hawk away. It eventually came back to the barbwire fence and put on a show catching insects and eating them in front of us. While here we had some fly over American Goldfinches and Northern Harriers hunting over the grasses.

Tropical Kingbird after hawking insects

  Once the Kingbird was found we went north to Tropical Park. Here a MacGillivray's Warbler was originally found by Larry Manfredi and had been hanging out. I originally saw it in 2012 and was hoping it would winter in the same area. My first encounter with this bird was a rough one only getting very bad views as it was skulking around in the thickets. I had chased this species twice before in the last couple years and missed it every time. This time would be a completely different story. We worked the area for about 45 minutes when finally it started vocalizing and I got a great look at the bird! Considering the species the 2 seconds it gave me to appreciate its glory was more than enough. Unfortunately I was not able to get a photograph. Once it realized four people were staring it flushed down into the Burma Reeds never to be seen again. 

Even though I could not get a picture of the MacGillivray's I managed to get one of this Prairie Warbler

  Unfortunately from here the rest of the day went down hill. We shot over to A.D. "Doug" Barnes park hoping to get the reported Bell's Vireo in "Homeless Hammock". The bird was no where to be found but we did get a couple consolation birds. Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Parula and Yellow-throated Vireo were all seen before we left. Our next stop would be the Virginia Key mountain bike trails. Here a Western Spindalis has been seen on and off for several weeks. After about an hour of almost being runned over by cyclists we decided we would leave and try for Western Tanager at Enchanted Forest in North Miami before it got dark or we got sent to Mercy Hospital due to a biker-on-birder collision. We worked the park until dusk but we had no luck with the Tanager either. We did have a Broad-winged Hawk flying back and forth from different perches to finish the 1st. At the end of the day we had a total of 46 native species and 3 American Birding Association (ABA) countable exotics for a total of 49. Just 251 to go!

Consolation Yellow-throated Vireo


  1. We'll be back soon for the tough ones!

  2. Nothing stands a chance against us!