Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Past the Century Mark!

  Two days at 99 birds...TWO! How does that happen? All I needed to do was find one new bird for the year. Just a single species and I'm a third of the way there. Well the 7th was that day! Every Monday I survey the shorebirds of Crandon Park and I saved these ticks. My last survey was last Monday (December 31st) so I knew what to expect and what to hope for. I hit the beach at dawn during an incoming tide. Birds were feeding on the flats and that's when it happened. Bird number 100 was seen. As I scanned I hoped a rarity would pop up. Something just totally out of it's range... too bad that didn't happen. Bird 100 was a Black-bellied Plover. To think it could have been the Bananaquit from yesterday! This doesn't mean I am being ungrateful. I definitely need that bird to reach my goal of 300, but why not bird 103 ya know? Anyway! I continued my survey and talllied 14 new species for the list! I went over to Bill Baggs at 8 am to try for the Bananaquit but once again came up short. At 11 am I went over to Virginia Key to try and find the Western Spindalis seen throughout December. I had a feeling it was still in the area but had not been able to track it down. This day would be no different. I skipped out on the spindalis and a Bell's Vireo that was found a little earlier. I did manage to find some nice birds like Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler.

This Yellow-throated Warbler flew right in after a little pishing

  The rest of the day was no different. I went over to Greynolds Park looking for Ruby-crowned Kinglet and dipped again. I figured I should quit while I was ahead and went home. At the end of the day I was at 113 birds for the year. I had finally broken 100 but I was no where near done. Tuesday would be a new day. It would be a day of GREAT EPICNESS. I didn't realize it when I woke up but I was about to have a big day full of rare vagrants... The day started at 6:45 am on Virginia Key. I was determined to find the Western Spindalis. This bird had to be there! I began randomly walking down the mountain bike paths searching old spots where it was known to frequent. I aimlessly wandered around until I heard it. The high pitched ZEET call. I ran over to where it was coming from and sure enough the bird was there. A little pishing was all it took and the bird came out and posed! It gave great looks and allowed for great photos. If only all birds were this easy!

Loving the lime-light!

  I ran to my car and headed over to Bill Bagg's. I was not going to miss the Bananaquit again. Third time is a charm and I was not going to leave that trail until I saw the bird or was kicked out. I made sure to pack tons of peanut butter crackers, goldfish and water. Many birders came and staked out the spot with me - even a couple I had seen the day before! We stood around for a couple hours before it was seen. The Bananaquit flew across the trail! From the west side right to the spot it was originally seen on Sunday, January 6th. What  a sight! It fed on the Wild Sage before coming into the open and flying back across the trail. Thats when I realized it... I might be onto a BIG CARIBBEAN VAGRANT DAY!

Giving great views!

  The next bird on the list would be the La Sagra's Flycatcher. A bird I had already seen for the year but not on the same day as another vagrant... let alone two! I went back to Virginia Key hoping to see the bird and make up for the awful photo I had taken of it a couple days ago. As I was driving up I saw a bird fly off the guard rail. Could that have been the flycatcher? I thought it was probably an Eastern Phoebe but felt like I should check anyway. I walked over and immediately was bombarded by birds. Downy Woodpecker, Northern Waterthrush, Magnolia, Palm, Prairie, Orange-crowned and Black-and-White Warbler all feeding together. This flock looked like it might actually have the flycatcher. I began pishing and whistling trying to get the birds riled up and maybe attracting the La Sagra's when there it was. It perked up and flew in close to me. It hawked an insect and perched directly infront of me. It was real active calling and feeding allowing for great photos. This was the third vagrant on the day. I had seen them all and snapped photos before noon... what a great day! 

The short period when this bird was actually still and not trying to eat every bug in the area

  As of day 8 I had officially broken 100 birds and was creeping closer to 150... Can I get halfway there before the end of January? What does that mean for the rest of the year? There are definitely lots of birds left to be found and even more that I have to photograph! At least at this point and time I have found some of the harder birds and can focus on getting the odds and ends before migration kicks up and I am focusing on getting those birds that are just passing through on their way to their breeding grounds. At the end of Tuesday January 8th, my total is 117 native birds and 4 ABA countable exotics.

Always nice to finish the day with a new bird for the year


  1. You ticked three of the toughest birds to see in a Big Year, all in one day! You are well on your way to your 300 species goal. Keep up the great work :)

    Nature is Awesome
    Angel & Mariel

  2. Thanks you for your continued posts on these birds. I will be traveling out to FL in FEbruary and hope to relocate them. Best of luck on your big year!

    Noah Gaines
    Santa Barbara, CA

  3. Thanks everyone! I am working hard trying to get everything I can while it's still around.


  4. Sounds like a truly great day...